Car Show Classic: 1968 VW Transporter Electric – Solar Surfer


Really nice Microbus conversion, mild custom, big sunroof, a beautiful paint job and cool coastal artwork. I see a couple of surfboards on top, sweet. But hey, what’s going on down below? That doesn’t look like a VW crankshaft pulley, and where’d all the pipes go?


Every summer the OEVA holds an electric car show in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. I’ll share some of the AC-DC CCs in a future post, but this being Van Week, I had to show you this excellent electrified VW van, completely rebuilt, converted and customized by Leif’s, a local chain of body shops. Two big solar panels pop out the top, where they can be tilted to face the sunlight. About 1 kW total, enough to run the van’s electronic goodies on the beach without draining the battery pack, and to trickle charge it while parked.


That’s an AC induction motor bolted onto the transaxle, probably one of the new HPEV AC-5x or AC-7x drive systems. Full-power regenerative braking makes Nikola Tesla’s AC motor an increasingly common choice for EV conversions. Yes, those aft motor supports were custom-fabricated out of bamboo.


Lithium-ion batteries run the length of the cabin, enough for over 100 mile highway range, and making a handy console. There’s a big flip-down flat screen to entertain the passengers.


I love what they did up front, especially the steering wheel and horn button. Full instrumentation is displayed on the central tablet computer.


Beautiful montage of the Portland waterfront, snowboarding on Mt. Hood and a lighthouse, Cape Blanco I think.


The solar panels tuck neatly inside, one nested atop the other, ready to be protected by the aptly-named sunroof.

Leif’s spent about two years on this project, and they made this nice little video early in the project, when they completely stripped and dipped the body.


Surfboards on top, all charged up and buttoned down for a 100-mile cruise to the Oregon Coast. Maybe Lincoln City for the Big Wave Classic at Nelscott Reef. Clean and green.