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Old 02-13-2016, 07:22 AM   #12 (permalink)
Bill the Engineer
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Continuing with my story...

So, I had decided to investigate what it would take to convert my old rusty Firebird convertible into a hybrid. The initial research was very interesting to say the least.

At first, I thought it might be easy to just drop-in the GM Hybrid system out of the Hybrid Tahoe/Yukon SUV, since it was already a "GM" product with the same front engine / rear drive layout. Then I started looking at the specs and how poorly that system compared to my two Prii. It just seemed to be a lot of effort for not much gain. It's no wonder GM stopped making the hybrid drivetrain on that platform...

Then GM president Mary Barra made those "comments" about how GM was never going to bring back Pontiac and people should get over it. That soured me on anything GM from then forward, so the Volt drivetrain dropped off of my radar... forever.

I next took a tape measure out into my driveway and began to do some basic measurements of my Gen-III Prius to compare to my partially disassembled Firebird in the garage. Hmmm... nearly the same wheelbase (Prius a little shorter)... nearly the same tread width... exactly the same tire diameter...

OK, so if I used the drivetrain out of a Prius family vehicle, things might work out. Now to decide which Prius family vehicle to use.

My research at first took me into the direction of the hardest version to find, the Lexus HS250h. I discovered that the dash gauges were very similar in shape to the Firebird's. I even bough a salvage gauge off of E-pay to make a closer comparison.

The gauges would work, but there was the problem of the shorter wheelbase. I played around with ideas. Making the wheelbase longer by buying two HS250h was too expensive. The adjustment would need to be made by making the front fenders and hood shorter on the Firebird body. Awkward.

I also discovered that the price that a HS250h was bringing in the salvage auctions was way over my budget. The insurance companies have quite a racket going there totalling mildly damaged cars and selling the parts for a profit.

I turned to look at the Gen-III Prius which is the same platform in hatchback form. I would not have the nice instrument cluster that way, but I had hoped that the HS version would connect.

I put in a couple of unsuccessful bids at salvage auctions. No joy, but I did get to know Steve Woodruff, owner of He runs a Prius-only salvage repair business for mostly Gen-II Prii, although he dabbles in the Prius V wagon too. Steve happened to mention to me that maybe I should consider the Prius V since it has a slightly longer wheelbase. That turned out to be the turning point in the project. I recalculated things based on the Prius V and everything came into focus.

Next chapter soon...

Bill the Engineer

Last edited by Bill the Engineer; 04-07-2018 at 11:36 PM..
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