ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Comfort and Control

Finally it’s time to gather all of the interior fixtures and instruments to begin reassembling the cockpit. I purchased this reproduction center console from Auto Atlanta a while back, and have been eager to install it ever since. I was told the console just sits loose on top of the tunnel, but that image didn’t produce the satisfying feeling. So I used the existing brackets on the console base to fasten it directly to the tunnel with long machine screws. It required drilling a couple small holes in the tunnel sheet metal. Now it stays put.

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Pictured here are all connections for the center console instruments. The grey wire carries data for the controller display, and the white/red wire with the tiny red button cycles it through display modes. These wires travel up the center tunnel from the motor controller in the rear of the car. The white Cat 5e cable is for the BMS display, and comes to the console through the heater cable grommet under the dash. The other end of that Cat 5e cable will be attached to a module on the battery pack in the front fuel bay. The red and green wires are power and speed control for the ceramic core heater, which snake through the main harness grommet to the control box in the front. Lastly, the two 2/0 gauge battery cable lugs will attach to the emergency disconnect switch, and provide a break in the power loop that travels up the center tunnel.

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Some 1/4 thick inch plywood was fashioned into new center console panels for the EV gauges and emergency cutoff switch. I used a 2 inch hole saw for the two displays and a 1 inch hole saw for the cutoff switch on the vertical panel. The stock heater lever slot didn’t line up properly, so the new horizontal panel moved it a half inch to port, while also making space for the heater fan switch. The overall fit seemed good, so the panels graduated to upholstery and installation.

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Here’s a look at the backside of the vertical console panel with upholstery vinyl wrapped and glued. For the record, all these holes needed to be filed a tad larger to accomodate the upholstery vinyl so the instruments would fit. The clips at the far left were recessed into half-deep holes created with a 1/2 inch paddle bit and then hot-glued into place.

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The Curtis 840 Serial Data Display that came with the controller is at the top of the shot, and the EV display that I purchased with the MiniBMS is just below it. Together, these instruments offer a variety of real-time data, including state-of-charge, battery temperature, instant current and voltage reading, etc. More time needs to be spent with my face in the manuals to get the most out of these devices. The clown nose at bottom is the Curtis/Albright ED250B emergency cutoff.  It’s designed to be highly visible in case a first responder or EMT needs to break power in difficult circumstances, like an accident. Some sort of clear label will be needed here that says: “PUSH TO DISABLE.” The switch is also centrally located so the driver or passenger can cut juice to the controller in the event of catastrophic failure, preventing further mayhem. Such circumstances give the switch its nickname: the OH SH*T button.

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Here is the generic 3-way rotary switch that came with the ceramic core heater kit. It was small, unassuming and black, so I went with it rather than trying to find something cooler. I would have used the original heater lever on the left, but it only has two positions: on and off. There was no room for the rotary switch on the dash, so I mounted it on the console shelf, just to keep it in the old neighborhood. It looks right at home.

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For safety reasons and sheer paranoia, I installed a third brake light. The original idea was to repurpose a third brake light fixture from a Corvette, and mount it on the 914 engine deck lid. But that would involve drilling holes through new paint and body panels, so I pursued a less destructive install inside the rear window. Above is the mounting plate I fashioned from a piece of aluminum sheet and a bench vise.

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The plate was designed to lay flat at the top of the rear firewall, where it was pop-riveted in place.  Mounted properly, the lens of the light sits perfectly flush against the rear window glass, eliminating distracting reflections. A right angle wire tap routes power up from the main brake wire in the tunnel, hidden underneath the firewall pad.

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Speaking of the firewall pad… Here it is fully mounted on the aft wall of the people compartment. All of the wires for the interior light and third brake light emerge from the tunnel immediately at the base of the pad, and then travel behind it to the fixtures. The installed seat brackets can be seen on the floor pan. The blue tape is there to protect the cleaned and lubricated rails from dirt, and to protect my pants from lithium grease.

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It’s hard to believe the seats are finally in the car. They have been refurbished, reupholstered and waiting in the garage for many months. They seemed a bit tight on the rails until I applied another coat of lithium grease, and then they slipped right in. The weight sensor ribbons were toast when I originally pulled them out of the seat cushions, so I opted to skip all of the complicated seat belt warning relay hookups. Who needs a silly light and buzzer. Isn’t it just an automatic urge to strap on a Porsche seat belt anyway?

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The final touch is the Luisi steering wheel with a Porsche crest center horn button. The wheel comes with a custom hub to fit onto the 914 steering column. When you press the Porsche crest, it makes a big noise. Not much else needs to be said. Just staring at the picture for a long time tells you everything you want to know.

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8 Responses to “Comfort and Control”

  1. can’t wait to see the finished car… and take a ride in it ! 🙂

  2. That looks great. Nice work. I like the seats and console.

  3. Wow, superb workmanship as always. I suspect the defrost lever wasn’t a good fit because you have a non-center console version. 914s with the center consoles had a slightly different lever with a bend in it to move the lever closer to center. Here’s a pic: http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/914_center_console/914_center_console_pic8_big.JPG

    On the third brake light – It looks like you’ve already completed the install, but I wanted to raise your awareness of the flashing-steady 3rd brake light solution sold here: http://www.brakeflasher.com/brake.htm

    914s sit so low that I think even the third brake light needs an extra “zing” to get noticed, and the brakeflasher does just that.

    I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the finished product!! Thanks again for the updates, pictures, and explanations / philosophy of doing the conversion!

    • Hey Rob – Thanks for the comments and links. The center console heat lever is a new one on me. I also think I would have chosen your third brake light, ditched the suction cups, and found a way to mount it permanently. Maybe the next conversion. I appreciate the info. – Mark

  4. I might have been tempted to remove the legacy heater switch, but things like that harkin back to the car’s origin. Instead, I would consider labeling it with wording to effect of, “Whatever you do, don’t touch this switch!” — Fit and finish coming together quite nicely; seats are particularly impressive.

  5. Beautiful….cannot wait to see the YouTube GoPro HD videos when she is on the road. Hint Hint!


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