Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School (BAVTS) embarked on an innovative journey in January 2022 with the purchase of a 1970 Fiat 124 Spider, setting the stage for an extraordinary transformation into an electric vehicle (EV). Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, students from the Automotive Technology program poured their skills into preparing the vehicle for this groundbreaking conversion.
Over 30 students, under the guidance of Mr. Cantrel and Mr. Nonnemacher, meticulously overhauled the braking, steering, and suspension systems, breathing new life into the Fiat. In tandem, another group of students, led by instructors, removed the driveline, laying the groundwork for the impending electrical conversion.
As May 2023 arrived, the much-anticipated parts for the electric conversion reached BAVTS. Selected for their dedication, Braiden Binder and Spencer Parker, along with Mr. Cantrel, spent 24 intensive days over the summer converting the Fiat into an electric powerhouse.
The conversion process unfolded methodically. Wiring components were meticulously bench-tested for the EV system’s seamless operation. The engine compartment and trunk underwent a transformative makeover, from degreasing and sanding to a fresh coat of paint. The interior was stripped down to accommodate the intricate new wiring.
Fabrication became an art as brackets were skillfully crafted to support the high-voltage battery and electric motor. Every switch, from brake to throttle, was carefully installed, and a web of 150-volt cables was expertly routed. The students took the project a step further by converting all lighting to LED and rewiring accessory circuits using a Painless Wiring kit.
BAVTS celebrates the collaborative effort of all students involved in this ambitious project. From the comprehensive preparation phase led by 30+ students to the hands-on conversion executed by Braiden and Spencer, the Fiat’s evolution into an EV stands as a testament to the school’s commitment to innovation and hands-on learning.