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The Thing gets an electric makeover (4 photos)

Tom Lammer loves Volkswagens. Always has. Always will. So when the opportunity to tinker with a classic Volkswagen Thing and combine it with the future of the automobile, electric power, he couldn't resist.
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Tom Lammer loves Volkswagens. Always has. Always will.

So when the opportunity to tinker with a classic Volkswagen Thing and combine it with the future of the automobile, electric power, he couldn't resist.

Lammer, and his mechanic, spent the past year converting his 1974 Thing into an electic vehicle, removing the 36 horsepower gas engine it came with and replacing it with a 400 horsepower electric motor that used to belong to a Tesla.

The car will be on display this weekend at the eMERGE Electric Vehicle show happening in and outside Old Quebec Street Shoppes, Friday starting at 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's quick, let's just say that," laughs Lammer when asked how fast his newest toy can go.

"I'm a 40 year VW enthusiast, so I've always got some project on the go," Lammer said. "A year or so ago I just had this ambition to reignite some interest in the hobby, understanding that electric is the new and interesting way on doing something different and custom.

"It's an interesting marriage of old and new," Lammer said.

His love of VWs started when he and his brother, both too young to drive on the road, would use an old VW Beetle to chase groundhogs around his family's eight-acre property.

"Then when I was of-age the first car I bought was a real Beetle."

The Volkswagen Thing was the company's attempt to diversify models once the Beetle started waining in popularity.

While popular overseas and produced there for a number of years, it wasn't so popular in North America and was only produced from 1972 to 1974.

The Tesla motor was found in a salvage yard. The battery is from a Chevy Bolt.

Lammer and his "mechanic, friend and co-conspirator" Dan Roelofsen of 519Kustomz, had to do plenty of problem solving along the way.

"It needed some skill, obviously, with some custom fabrication and some machining," he said, "hop-scotching the challenges along the way."

Evan Ferrari, director eMERGE, said it's a great piece to have at this weekend's electric vehicle show.

"When Tom said he would bring it I got excited. It's got this nutty, cool side to it," Ferrari said.

Ferrari said those that promote electric vehicles are always trying to "normalize the whole EV thing" and something like this will bring people out.

There will also be an electric replica of a 1919 Indian motorcycle on display.

Lammer said the project was very satisfying.

"I'm inspired now. I wasn't going to to too many more projects, but I'm keen to carry on and do some other ones," he said.

"It is the next smart way of introducing the electric drive system into the vintage world. I think many other people will quickly follow in on that evolving part of the car hobby."



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