Al Swackhammer has taken his A.U. 1000 and built a very unique conversion with a lithium pack and AC drive.
Al Swackhammer, 60, Edmonds, WA
What is your primary occupation ?
What got you interested in electric cars Al ?
I wanted to do more for Mother Earth. This cars orginial engine was a three cylinder, two stroke. What a contrast now.
Is this your first EV ?
Can you tell us a little about the Auto Union 1000s, it is a very unique car.
Auto Union AG was what is now known as Audi, back in the late fifties production of the Auto Union 1000 began. Auto Union first came together in 1932, composed of Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wander. Horch and Wander fell by the wayside after the war. DKW and Audi lasted. DKW made their last car in 1965 or so. Left Audi and NSU until 1977. Audi became sole owner of the Auto Union and in 1985 began to use the four rings logo for themselves.
I found this car on Craig’s List in Santa Barbara, CA
Was the car in good shape, did any restoration take place ?
The car came in pretty good shape. In the first three days it was completely taken apart. It has had a complete body off, nut and bolt restoration. This was my first and last paint and or restoration. Way too many hours.
Have you had trouble getting parts for it ?
I joined a DKW group. In the first months I got a Blue Cloud Magazine. In it was an article about Mr. Ferrall in Michigan. He had lots of parts for sale. He had to be out of his shop of many years in only a few weeks.
I could not afford or have need of all the parts. He wanted $20k for the lot. I asked him what would happen if no one bought them? He said “I don’t want to take them to the scale”. The metal recyclers. I offered to come to Michigan and retrieve the parts and sell them; Either on EBay or through the club. He would get 50% of what I got for them. He agreed and I flew to Michigan, rented a truck and brought the parts home. The sad thing for me, is that I have not needed many of the parts.
Have there been any unique challenges in converting a car of this age ?
The biggest challenge has been the folks I purchased the kit from. They were so much trouble I will not even mention their company name. One of the biggest challenges was voltage. I started out with 48 cells and it was just not enough power to take the hills here is the Seattle area. I have since added 12 more cells to make it a 200v system.
The transmission looks similar to a VW, are there parallels between the platforms ?
I don’t have much experience with even VW transmissions. So I am not sure. This car is a front wheel drive, four speed on the colum.
Who machined the adaptor plate ?
It was part of the kit and I never knew. I will say it is a pretty piece.
Where did you source your Li-Ion batteries ?
My first set came from China direct. What a story that is. My second set came from Lithium Storage. Very nice folks to deal with.
How heavy is the pack ?
The batteries weigh 6.84lbs each X 60 = 410+ lbs. Without battery box or BMS
What percentage of total GVW do you estimate that to be ?
I am over the orginial curb weight by just 250lbs Curb weight was 1995lbs
The screen is not being used at its full potential. It runs Windows CE 5. It also is running Electric Blue Motors computer.
Could you tell us a little bit about the Azure Dynamics AC motor and controller and their benefits ?
I chose Azure Dynamics’s for a few reasons. AC motors are usually lighter than DC motors. It is limited to 200 amps max. And it has regenerative braking. This car has drum brakes and now I rarely have to use my car brakes. And as an aside, Beth is one of the most helpful people you will want to meet. Kind and fast in response.
Which EV enthusiast sites do you visit ?
I am so new at this that I visit any and all I find. I have been a sponge for information. I am usually on overload.
Which are some of your favorite conversions or available new EVs ?
I lust after the Tesla. Until I win the lottery or someone offers me one for my car, it will only be lust. I look forward to the new vehicles coming to market. The new Leaf and the Aptera and of course the Tesla S are some of them.
What do your friends think of the car ?
Most of my friends are impressed that I was able to complete this project. But most of all impressed that it works and is driven daily.
What has your conversion experience taught you overall ?
Tenancy and perseverance. I had to paint the car twice. The first time I started to color sand I went through to the primer. I did not understand what a “WET COAT” was. I almost sold the project at that point. I took a break and painted it again. It has a lot of paint on it now. Parts are really hard to find. Even with my find with Mr. Ferrall, I have had to source parts from all over the World. And still I have not found all I need.
What was your conversion cost including donor ?
There is a running joke. I have one price when my wife is around and another one if she is not. But really, I have more in this than I had budgeted. Like maybe 4 times more. It is around $42k at this point. I don’t like to tell people that (or my wife) because I don’t want to scare them off from doing a conversion. I did a high end conversion for several reasons. One , is,” if it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing”.
Do you have a favorite story about building or driving your EV ?
I guess the paint story. Having never painted a car before I was somewhat intimated. This was a turning point for the completion of this project.
Are there a few people you’d like to thank ?
I have done this project mostly by myself. I wanted to say when it was done that I had done it myself. My wife is the most of all those that helped me to complete this project. She never ever complained about the time or money I have spent to do this. I have my friend Bob Porter that gave me suggestions on my paint work. My friends Sheryl and Gordy who purchased my first paint bill, for some help I did for them.
I hope that many more people will either do a project or purchase an Electric Vehicle. It is all about not using fossil fuels. It is easy to do and feels great.
Are there any EVs out there who you’d like to see on EV Gearbox ?
Yes, I have a friend, Dave, that has a really nice Honda that would be great for a article. He is in the process of doing the conversion to Lithium. Should be a fun drive.