Is there any vehicle more iconic than the Willys Jeep? This automotive institution has seen countless unique transformations from passionate owners who love to customize the humble little Jeep. From the bus-like Jeepneys of the Philippines to this stainless steel EV conversion featured on Hagerty’s MODIFIED video series, there's simply nothing the Willys Jeep can’t do. So does a classic Willys Jeep make for a good EV conversion platform?
TheJeep Willys platform is a ridiculously simple body-on-frame setup with leaf springs and solid axles. It doesn’t get much simpler than a Willys Jeep which makes them the perfect candidate for extreme modifications like this EV conversion.
The team at AI Design, a New York-based custom automotive tuning and engineering organization went to work fulfilling the owner's dream of an EV-powered Willys Jeep. The owner inherited this stainless-steel bodied Jeep from his grandfather who stored it in a garage. After taking delivery of this unique Jeep it was sent to AI Design for a full restoration and EV conversion.
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The EV conversion is comprised of familiar components like Tesla Battery Cells coupled with a custom water-tight battery enclosure and unique packaging to fit under the hood of the Willys. Tesla battery cells are the best choice for custom builds as they are readily available on the salvage market and a known quantity thanks to years of widespread use.
The combination of one of the most basic vehicles ever built with a modern powertrain is a very interesting juxtaposition. Does modern tech take away from the character of the Willys Jeep? Based on the driving video absolutely not as you still get the same open-air high steering input driving experience with a better powertrain which in my book is a win-win.