The Fast Lane Truck’s Tesla-Powered 1965 Ford ‘E100’
There’s much debate these days about converting old vehicles into something much newer in theory and practice. Sure, engine swaps are old hat in the custom automotive world, but what we’re talking about is ditching an internal combustion engine altogether and venturing out into realm of full electric power. The task itself doesn’t sound as socially polarizing as you might think, but the general consensus concerning this type of conversion in an old vehicle is surprisingly divisive.
With that very generalized explanation, let’s zoom in on one old vehicle in particular—a pretty cool 1965 Ford F-100 owned by TFLtruck (TFLtruck.com). Now, this truck itself came in as a sort of a rebel right from the start as the F-100 cab and bed sat directly on a 4×4 F-250 frame with a 300 cu in inline-six engine from a F-550 dump truck underneath the hood. The truck started, ran, and stopped, well, just. Also, it had serious driveability issues with a completely worn-out 4-speed manual transmission, a leaking engine, and very rough suspension.
Taking a Chance
So, with the engine as whipped as it was, a full rebuild was most likely in the cards—that is until the guys at TFLtruck reshuffled the entire deck. If any of you out there followed the series of video blogs the guys shared on their site and on YouTube, you’d know that the truck was well received in the comment section—at first. When videos were posted requesting viewer participation as to what should be the next steps taken with the truck, a good number of responses called for the guys to keep and rebuild the inline-six power plant, which must have been the forecasted popular vote.
The guys at TFLtruck heard the collective voice to keep the orange F-100 in original running condition, save for some necessary upgrades for maintenance’s sake but they decided to take the truck in an entirely different direction—but not out of spite. The uptick of classic electric conversions has gained lots of interest from EV fanatics, as well as those on the outside starting to feel boxed in and bored. An LS or crate engine swap are not the only viable options out there, and to explore those waters to help solidify that notion, TFLtruck along with Legacy EV and 101 Motors in Tempe, Arizona, collaborated on the conversion that would soon feature a whole lot of voltage-based power.
The whole premise of the project was to leave the F-100 rusty and orange, which was the easy part. The wheels were upgraded to American Racing units, and the old worn-out tires were tossed aside for a set of replacement 35-inch BF Goodrich KM3 mud-terrain rubber.
Next, the inline-six engine and all its components were plucked from the engine bay and inside of the cab, and dual Tesla battery packs were assembled—one under the hood, and another secured underneath the bed.
Two Hyper 9 electric motors now power the F-100. They have been stashed discretely away in the transmission tunnel and have been mated to a 2:1 gear-reduction box, which then connects to the truck’s original divorced transfer case. This pairing creates incredibly low-geared 4WD torque—over 657.4lb-ft/891Nm to be more precise—thanks in part to the centralized location of the original F-250 transfer case that results in equal-length drive shafts. The horsepower rating hovers right around the 261hp/195kW, which is decent enough, but the torque was the real reward at the end of the day.
When the original gas tank behind the seats inside the cab was removed (which is kind an odd spot to place a tank full of gasoline, don’t you think?) the truck’s new charging cable was routed in that same location so the original fuel filling point could still serve as the location to refill the truck’s resources on the exterior.
Currently, the F-100’s system is set up for Level I and Level II charging with the help of a 6kWh onboard charger. While the truck is still in the testing phase, the crew is doing their best to determine measureable range as well as overall performance output. Right out of the gate, the truck boasts much quicker acceleration and is generally faster than it was when it was powered by the inline-six, but that is no surprise.
With the power portion of the build well taken care of, the crews can now focus on upgrading some other items such as running a dual master cylinder to fresh drum brakes.
The exterior is likely to stay the same for the most part, but the interior is due for a much-needed refresh. Nothing over-the-top is in the plans, as the guys are still fine-tuning the system where needed and dialing in other mechanical components to ensure smooth sailing into the future. While the crew has been having a blast driving and learning the capabilities of the newly electrified classic F-100, the decision was made to auction it off to benefit a great charity.
Various fuel and diesel engines were definitely in the running as far as possible engine swaps were concerned, but in the end plug-in power proved to be the right direction. While it’s evident that there is still some resistance from a select number of folks out there, the decision to take the ’65 F-100 fully electric adds yet another prime example of a classic vehicle conversion to hit the streets.
We get it—an electric conversion like this isn’t exactly cheap, practical, or easy for those who aren’t well versed in voltage, but they are pretty damn cool to see done regardless of pushback. It’s still early in the game, and we’re betting that once familiarity with the electric process increase, so will those involved in following EV projects.
FOR A PURPOSE
This “E100” will be auctioned off with proceeds given as scholarships to help more technicians get EV-certified.
1965 Ford F-100
Motors: 2 x Hyper 9 motors
Motor swap performed by: Jake Bieling @ 101 Motors, Tempe, AZ
Control Software: Smart View and PuTTY
Batteries: Tesla modules prepackaged in a custom box from Legacy EV designed to fit early Broncos and similar F-series vehicles. Dilithium BMS and coolant run on a Bosch pump.
Factory F-250 chassis and ride height
Rear leaf springs and Fox factory 2.5 internal bypass shocks
17-inch American Racing rims
35/12.5R17 BF Goodrich KM3 Competition tires
Front and rear drum brakes
Legacy EV, 101 Motors and Fox decals by Anthony Saenz
Charge port in gas filler
Cut out for plexiglass in transmission
Factory gauges and Dilithium Design display
Pioneer head unit and 6×9 speakers