Is that a V28 Engine under the hood? Milwaukee Li-Ion Chevy Bel-Air

Posted by on September 14, 2006

The “Red Line” tour came to our place today. This included the Monster Garage built V28 powered car. Not only is this thing cool to look at, it’s also pretty darn quick – getting up to almost 100 mph in the quarter mile. It runs from 384 of Milwaukee’s V28 Li-Ion batteries and drew quite a bit of attention (yes, that’s almost $50k and 900 lbs of “fuel” for those keeping score at home, not including the 210 V28 chargers). I’m sure that seems like a decent chunk of cash to most of us, but our rep stated that getting this car built cost them $275k, so it’s not all that much in comparison.

Now that you know what powers this beast, allow me show you some of the details of this interesting rechargeable automobile.

Stock looking interior

As you can see, the inside is fairly “standard”. Nothing overly impressive, other than it looks great for being a 1962 vehicle. Milwaukee had it done in their black and red color scheme with some white highlights, but it still looks pretty stock. It wasn’t perfect, but it was also done pretty quickly for the show and wasn’t what they were really concerned with. They did, after all, just want to make something that went fast down the 1/4 mile track, and 93 mph in 14.5 seconds isn’t too bad for a power tool battery powered car.

Interesting accellerator

If you look really close (clicking on the image to zoom in a bit helps), the gas pedal is actually like those used on boats for trolling motors. I found that a bit amusing that they ended up using one of those, but it is understandable since they’re running electric motors with it and not moving a lever to open up the carb letting more fuel and air in. I hadn’t ever really thought about what they would use for an accellerator, which is probably why it stood out as much as it did to me. Either way, the feel was a bit different and I thought it was worth noting. The wire coming off of it will be re-run at some point, but for now it’s functional.

Stock from the front

From the front, this car looks fairly stock as well. Nothing really screams “electric muscle car” from the outside. Come to think of it, electric muscle car is sort of an odd term. The other phrase I heard to describe this is “High-tech classic”. That didn’t really make much sense either. An electric car shouldn’t be considered a classic if you ask me, regardless how old the body style is. But I would have to agree that it’s sweet technology, as would most any classic car enthusiast. I’d still prefer a V8 over a V28, but that wouldn’t help with Milwaukee’s marketing like this does.

Sweet wheels

The wheels that they chose looked pretty nice as well. I like the Milwaukee logo sweeping across the fender, even if some of the paint had already decided to bubble and start peeling. But hey – it’s a classic car body that’s been on the road being shown at tool stores around the country, so you can’t expect it to be perfect. It’s still plenty shiny, and those low-profile tires look nice. I’m just glad I didn’t have to mount them on the rims. That would have been a real pain in the back-end. I guess that’s why I decided to be a geek and not a tire changer for a career.

Under the hood

Now that you’ve seen the outside, it’s time to take a peek under the hood. Being an electric, it looks quite different. No gas lines, just electrical wires. No oil dipsticks, no air filters, just solenoids and fuses. But since it’s a newer technology, it’s pretty neat to look at. I think it’s cool that a car can run that fast and be almost completely quiet, void of the typical rumble of exhaust pipes. Obviously, if it were a commercial vehicle it would have the wires hidden a bit more, but it’s not so it was just made to be functional and semi-pretty to look at. I’ll include a few more pictures below from under the hood, just because it’s neat.


In this last “motor” picture, notice how fire was hand drawn coming from one of the monsters. Sort of a neat touch.


The Fuel

As you can see from the underside, there is no gas tank. Why would anyone need a gas tank on an electric car? Some of the straps for transportation are still draped over the rear end and sway bar (was that supposed to go there – the bar now looks bent), and you can see that the power cables aren’t actually hooked up. At the top of the picture, you can see that the trunk was wood lined, which allowed for easy mounting of the battery receptacles. No, there weren’t 384 batteries installed, but looking up it was easy to see where they all went.

Battery mounting system

To the left is the view from under the trunk. For whatever reason, they couldn’t get the trunk to open, but from the underside all of the battery positions were visible. I was a little shocked to see rust on the underside of the trunk, but it is a ’62 Bel-Air body with 43 year newer battery technology – and it shows in areas. The car is still sweet, but it isn’t immaculate like I was expecting. In their defense, they did put it together in 4 days and have it scheduled to go in for a complete refinishing (body / interior) after this week. We’re one of the last stops to get to see the Monster Garage‘s original work.

It was an interesting distration from our usual power tool workplace. Given a few more of these events, my blog won’t even have to talk about power tools – just the publicity stunts that the manufacturers are trying. But until we get to that point, I’ll be going back to Power Tool blogging for a while… except for an upcoming Milwaukee Chopper post.

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