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Mike’s Electric 1953 M-38A1

• CATEGORIES: Features, M-38A1, Unusual • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

Robin discovered this cool jeep: an electric 1953 M-38A1.

Robin writes, “The owner, Mike Sudik, is an electrician and president of Big Sky Solar Wind out of Missoula, MT. Mike removed the engine several years ago (now owned by Robin) and replaced it with a DC electric motor. The top speed has been 45 mph and goes about 60-90 miles on a charge.  The “top” is actually a solar panel used to charge the 12V system for his PA and stereo.

He has detailed his adventure at: On his website are pictures showing how he accomplished the task. He had the Jeep listed as a CJ-3A but he now knows that it is an M-38A1. In fact, he probably got way more info (from me) than he ever expected. 🙂 He is a really great guy and I thought your readers might like to see what he has done. I have some pictures here:

1952-electric-vehicle-ev-m38a1-mike1 1952-electric-vehicle-ev-m38a1-mike2 1952-electric-vehicle-ev-m38a1-mike3 1952-electric-vehicle-ev-m38a1-mike4 1952-electric-vehicle-ev-m38a1-mike5


13 Comments on “Mike’s Electric 1953 M-38A1

  1. Alaska Paul

    A very interesting and unusual modification of an old Willys. It’s not something I would do to my Jeep but the engineering and work involved in converting this vehicle is impressive.

  2. Robert Anderson

    Certainly different, and I find it interesting that the top speed of 45mph is about the same as a stock M38A1.

  3. Wayne sheeley

    That’s PRITTY cool, I knew it’s the future. But I’m going to miss the sound of a gas engine ,specialy one with a cam & hedders.

  4. frankthecrank58

    to label someone’s project a ” waste of time and money” is not only rude, but uncalled for. many might think the same of whatever project you are working on. just because you have freedom of speech doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to exercise that freedom. just exercising mine. I think this jeep shows a lot of ingenuity and engineering. must save a ton on gas!

  5. Dave

    I think that it’s an interesting project. Would seem wierd to have silent power and when would you know to shift? The cost of those batteries is a whole new jeep project to me.

  6. JW

    Not exactly a one of a kind. Another, more refined project goes back a few years. Only this one is based on a M38, not an a1. Check out M38mike’s electro-willys project here: Electro-Willys!

  7. Blaine

    It still has a bell housing and shift levers. Waste of time project? I had a customer once that needed major service on her 5 year old Acura and wasn’t sure if she should have it done because they had never had anything like that done before as they always traded the car in for a new one before anything needed done. She thought it wasn’t worth the major service. Waste of time is an personal opinion. Most of us know that.

  8. Steve E.

    I’ve always told my non-Jeep loving friends that I will always have my Willys. When we quit burning gasoline, we will have the technology to put an electric motor in it. I like this experimental Jeep. But, it’s still not practical. The batteries are where you store your gear on the trail, and that poor rear axle. If the springs can’t handle the load, what about the axle bearings?

    Notice this man is a true electrical expert. He correctly called his original power plant an engine and replaced it with an electric motor, where those like me, loosely call an F4-134 an engine or a motor.

    I’m waiting for someone to prove to me that it’s more economical to operate electric motors. I rode in a Tesla a few months ago, and I was impressed with it’s performance. But you can only get so much energy out of a drop of fuel. First we have to burn coal or other fuel to turn a turbine and generate electricity. Then we plug in our electric car and wait. I’m waiting for someone to show me that the inefficiencies of converting energy sources, and the loss of energy in a power line would be better than just simply burning the fuel in the car. I read years ago that one of the first 4WD experimental car had four electric motors, one chain drive motor for each wheel.

    Tesla’s are the only pure electric car I’ve heard of. It has a one speed transmission. I wonder what this M38A-1 has for a tranny? It a bone stock T-90? Maybe he just leaves it in high gear (1:1). I don’t know why they only say it could go 45 mph because one advantage of an electric motor is that the rpm range can be much greater, which was an advantage of a Wankle Rotary Engine in an RX-7.

    RE: “Waste of time.” I personally like to hear all he opinions. I just hope no one lets themselves get insulted over a few “first impressions” on the internet.

    **Steve E.**

  9. John Hartman

    I don’t have much confidence in electric powered cars going anywhere in the near future. If you consider the horsepower used to go down the road for a time, I don’t think you have enough electricity delivered to your house to charge even capacitors in the time it takes to fill your gas tank.

    But these are very interesting projects. They both seem to use the gear train as is, seeing the sticks in the interior. And the one guy seems to be using the clutch, which I don’t understand.

    If you really enjoy machine noise (engines) you would be rewarded by the now dominating noise of gear whine. About ten years ago I saw an electric car from University of Ohio??? set a record at Bonneville. The only noise was going through the air and the tires on the salt. Very cool in it’s own way.
    Interesting that these guys picked jeeps as their platform, rather than something with more flash.

    Remember the Wright brothers were bicycle mechanics before we discovered how to fly.

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