Courtesy Noel Stark
Ashton Stark stands next to his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, which he converted into an electric car.
Ashton Stark stands next to his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, which he converted into an electric car. Courtesy Noel Stark
If the Chevy Volt's $40,000 price tag sounds a bit too steep, you could always go the do-it-yourself route of Oregon teenager Ashton Stark.
He just finished a yearlong conversion of his grandfather's 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle into an electric car.
"I was actually looking online with my dad at electric cars, because we heard a lot about them and thought they were kind of cool," Ashton says. "I decided I wanted to do one. And once I got the body from my grandpa, it all just kind of fell together."
With help from his father, Ashton installed nine golf cart batteries in the car and connected a single motorized shaft to the Beetle's transmission.
He estimates the car can travel about 45 miles on a full charge at about 45 mph. He says the electric conversion can be applied to other cars, too.
"You can convert almost any lightweight vehicle to electric," Ashton says. "VWs and Porsches work the best for electric, though."
His grandfather's old Beetle holds special significance. "My grandpa would be incredibly proud of something like this."
Ashton won't be able to drive his new electric Beetle for a few more days; he turns 15 today and will take the test for his learner's permit Monday.
His next project: outfitting a car for his sister.
"I'm working on finding a straight body for either a Bug or a Porsche to convert for my little sister for her first car."