PAG logo


Electric Powered Pembleton


Chris King

I am not the only one who initially thought of making a car with big V8, fat tyres, loud exhaust and performance to match; only to be taken by the skinny 602cc, thin tyres and the unique look of a Pembleton! So several kit-car shows later and many questions I took the plunge.

Making the order for the frame was the spur to seek out a donor car. I settled for a green 2CV that had been rusting on a drive way for several years. It had been an MOT failure; but I was struck by the care that had once been bestowed by the previous owner and their sense of humour.

The donor was taken apart and the bits kept were cleaned and painted, whilst waiting for the Brooklands frame and its collection. I will not dwell on the 'challenges' one faces in doing this, which has been documented many times by others. But when the frame arrived it was a pleasure to attach the now painted suspension parts and gearbox to complete the rolling chassis.

I had initially planned to make this a diesel electric Pembleton, and went so far as to putting in a diesel generator in the rear compartment. But not being a mechanic, especially with diesel engines, I could foresee maintenance and running problems in the future. The answer was 'To Keep It Simple', so I took out the diesel and opted to go pure electric.

The next step was to therefore find a suitable electric motor, so I joined the Battery Vehicle Society Forum for advice. This trail eventually led me to a breakers yard dealing in dead Forklift Trucks; I came back with a big electric motor that needed some (lots of) TLC.

This motor bolted directly to the gearbox, flywheel and clutch assembly using an aluminium frame. I put in additional supports for the motor to be on the safe side, and was then able to move the car up and down the drive with a couple of car batteries. This gives the smile factor and even bigger grin!

It was then time to install the controller. This is necessary to delivery the right amount of power to the electric motor from the battery pack at the right time. Remember an electric motor has its maximum torque immediately it starts to rotate. Hence when you look at - You Tube Electric Car vs - you see electric cars out accelerate supercars! Now it is not my intention to have a FI sports car but a fun city car - soooooo I went for an Electrofit Zapi H2 601 controller. This can be seen in the forefront of the photo. Not wishing to get to complicated - this is programmable unit to suit your own needs. Bearing in mind these are primarily designed to run Forklift Trucks, you programme the power curve to suit your purpose. I chose gradual acceleration and better mileage range - not military power assisted by steam catapult and after burners! The choice is yours.

Needless to say the driver needs to operate this controller - and I have done so by using an electronic forklift truck pedal. As this would not fit into the slim-line Pembleton foot-well, I mounted it in the engine compartment and attached a straight line cable from the drivers pedal to a lever (thanks to an old central heating boiler handle) bolted to the electronic pedal. This mirrors the drivers pedal position.

Another strange box in the engine compartment is a DC to DC Converter. This allows me to tap into the main battery pack to draw off 13.8 Volts for the lighting and other normal car ancillaries. Remember - 12 volt car batteries are not 12 volt but at least 13.5 volts when fully charged. I have added a small motor cycle battery as an emergency for hazard lights etc (should it be needed). I used a Wiring Module for the normal vehicle 12 volt requirements, which can be seen in the photo; along with a Yellow socket for recharging - but that is a whole new story.

Next was the 'challenge' to decide how to best place the battery pack(s). Trial and error led me to the obvious answer. If you can't hide it - flaunt it! I built running boards on each side and added battery pods. These hold three batteries on each side with two in the rear compartment. I took the car to an MOT centre to make sure it was road worthy and now am in the process of getting ready for the SVA.


I e-mailed Chris for more stuff about the electrics which is included above. The folowing e-mails were exchanged.

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the extra material - just what I think people would like to know.
Are you going via IVA (four wheel car) or MSVA under quadracycle rule?

I got a phone call from Chris on the registration process which Chris admitted he should have thought through more carefully before the build. I got this e-mail as a addition to the phone call.

Dear David,
Having thought about this and contemplated the impossible task of losing weight from my Brooklands, I remembered my choice in the first place to go for a thicker aluminium sheet as my intention had been to go diesel electric and I needed the extra weight/strength in the body. In addition the battery pods on the sides take the Brooklands weight to over 400 kgs before the batteries are added. The deciding factor was the friendly advice from my local VOSA test station who looked into the different rules for electric vehicles with regard to quadracycles - But I have to apply for the four wheel car and will do so in the next couple of weeks!
With hindsight, had I been making an electric Pembleton from scratch, it would be possible to bring it into the quadracycle weight. This could be achieved by not including the flywheel and clutch; using a lighter pancake motor; thinner aluminium sheets; and pre welded brackets for the battery pods. Instead, I believe I have a stronger and more robust vehicle.
Best wishes - Chris

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!