Jay Leno To Modernize 1914 Detroit Electric – Video

JAN 7 2016 BY MARK KANE 13

Jay Leno's Garage restoring 1914 Detroit Electric

Jay Leno’s Garage restoring 1914 Detroit Electric

Jay Leno presented a project for the 2016 season of Jay Leno’s Garage which centers around the restoration of a 1914 Detroit Electric.

The glider, in pretty poor shape, was bought for $1,000 – without motor or batteries.

The goal is to install a modern drivetrain – UQM electric motor and increase power output by 10 times the original amount.

On the battery side, a Nissan LEAF pack (24 kWh) will be installed partially in the front and back.

This 1914 Detroit Electric really could turn out to be an excellent project, and fun as well, as the new version will get air conditioning and bluetooth – things that were not even dreamed of one hundred years ago.

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13 Comments on "Jay Leno To Modernize 1914 Detroit Electric – Video"

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Cool! Nice opportunity to reflect on just how much has changed over the years.

Hey Inglasias’ 1966 VW Samba was pretty neat also. (vid came up after I watched this one).

Only thing I’d wonder about is the 102 year old differential gears handling 10 times the rated power. If I heard them correctly.

Nice that Nissan donated NEW (all the bars) batteries for the thing. 3.6 kw charger too?

Interesting. The original shape of the car was much like a carriage, thus horseless carriage, and now car.

Really cool Nissan gave him some re-purposed Leaf Batteries for the Brohamobile. 🙂

I know old cars were often overbuilt, but I kinda doubt the original gearing will hold up to the new motor they’re putting in there.

High speed turns and braking will be interesting issues to resolve…

Anon said:

“High speed turns and braking will be interesting issues to resolve…”

Yeah, I was thinking that ten times the original power sounds pretty dangerous. The car wasn’t designed to handle anything near that speed, and with the tall brougham body shape, it can tip over fairly easily when rounding corners.

But they can always electronically limit top speed.

Well roads are better these days. Unless you do something major to the suspension I would think 30-35 mph would be the top end. Originally designed to top out at 25 mph.

Ten times the power does not bring you from 20 mph top speed up to 35.

What’s your point?

Increasing speed from 20 to 35 isn’t even doubling the speed. With 10 times the power, in the theoretical case where the entire powertrain could handle it, top speed should increase to a lot more than twice the original speed.

Just as a very rough rule of thumb, I’d suggest the theoretical increase would be approximately the square root of 10, which would yield a new top speed of ~63 MPH. Practically, of course, that’s neither a realistic nor safe speed for this car.

Of course, as has been pointed out by more than one person, it’s likely there would be at weak points in the original drivetrain, such as the differential, which couldn’t handle that much torque.

Ludicrous Mode

Must be nice to have money.

Model J

I am pretty sure the motorcontroller can be programmed to limit torque of the motor to any amount at any speed you wish for. AFAIK the torque and power off current LEFAs is already reduced compared to the ones of the very first series in order to achieve better range (on paper)

A Leaf pack would give this EV a 300 mile range.
But one can’t use 10x’s the power. In fact the original motors at 2x’s the voltage would give it all the power it could use.