Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen Editor
1/10/18 11:14 a.m.


Photos by Bryce Nash unless otherwise credited.

It may seem pretty improbable that a hardcore backyard car enthusiast would have anything to do with a hybrid powertrain. After all, who has enough patience to unravel the science of marrying two different propulsion types?

Well, Bryce Nash not only embraced the idea of adding electric power to an already gasoline-propelled car, but he figured out a way to complete the entire project for about $1800. The plan? He installed an electric motor in the nose of his Pontiac Fiero.

Yep, he did the ultimate new-age motor swap, though it’s not technically a swap—he just added the electric motor and its attendant control systems to the existing Fiero chassis. The original cast-iron V6 can still be found between the rear wheels.

Bryce is a self-admitted car nut with a household fleet of eight cars. A career in engineering gave him the problem-solving skills needed to build his own hybrid as well as compete in such respected and influential racing series as the 24 Hours of LeMons and ChumpCar.

Years before his Fiero was unleashed at the Grassroots Motorsports $2009 Challenge, it started as many crazy projects do: with the happy convergence of a smokin’ eBay deal and an encouraging buddy. The big score was a powertrain from the short-lived Chevrolet S-10 Electric, an electric version of GM’s small pickup truck sold to fleets in 1997 and 1998. It basically used the same motor and controller system found in the EV1, star of “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

Turns out these cars weren’t dead after all, just hiding in a junkyard outside Detroit. Bryce’s S-10 donor was a GM plant security vehicle that was scrapped a few years back. The enterprising salvage yard that retired the S-10 listed the complete powertrain on eBay.

Enter the instigator.

Read the rest of the story

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
1/10/18 12:46 p.m.

That’s pretty rad. As a fellow Oregonian, I agree with his words 100%. If an event was near us, I would be there every year. (An Oregon location would be best since it halves the drive for Washington, Idaho, and California.)

what screen name does Bryce go by?

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
1/10/18 1:15 p.m.

His screen name is Nashco, haven't seen him in a long time. I wonder what happened to this car. It's one of the all-time great mechanical marvels to enter the Challenge.

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
1/10/18 2:04 p.m.

I'm one of the West-coasters who flaked. Tried to make up for it by sending a few dollars for th trip East. I sincerely hope that the build doesn't fade away. Way too cool for school.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
1/10/18 2:24 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

His screen name is Nashco, haven't seen him in a long time. I wonder what happened to this car. It's one of the all-time great mechanical marvels to enter the Challenge.

He sold it and it was still running around with the new owner.

He was campaigning a street prepared Chevy Spark (yep the electric version of the tiny Chevy) in some of the local autocrosses.  Other than struggling with the stability and traction control, he was doing pretty well.  That was a few years ago when I was running my 951S.  I'm not sure what he's doing now, I haven't been around the local racing scene much since our first child was born in 2016 and I was waiting for my Focus RS to arrive which cost me an entire season of racing, thanks Ford.

I was also one of the West Coasters that flaked on the West Coast Challenge, the loss of my job months before the event didn't help since driving a beater 2000 miles round trip from Portland to San Diego would require more funds than were sensible at the time.  This is one of the problems with a West Coast event, the distances between major cities are quite a bit larger than it is on the East Coast.  The fact that the staff are all in Florida doesn't help, since running an event away from home is exponentially more difficult.

Burrito
Burrito Dork
1/10/18 2:45 p.m.

Last I heard Bryce was climbing the corporate ladder at Daimler HQ in Stuttgart.

 

One of my wife's friend's fiance was on the same team as Bryce before he left town.  I have met this guy, Jason or J-man as everyone else calls him, like five times and I'm pretty sure that Bryce is the only common denominator between us (besides of course our choice in spouses).

Nashco
Nashco UberDork
1/10/18 6:27 p.m.

Woah, blast from the past!  I'm still alive and mostly well.  The Fiero lives on with a friend in Detroit area (my buddy who saved the day in the story above).  He's (very) slowly, but surely, making improvements and it sees light outside the garage some years for car shows. 

Here's the ol' build thread in case anybody wants to relive the past!

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/west-coast-2009-challenger-awd-fiero-hybrid/10519/page1/

The AWD hybrid Fiero build was definitely a steep learning curve for me built with a CRUSHING timeline, but it was super fun to drive and I thrive on aggressive timelines!  Funny that a few years after the Fiero build we started to see super hybrids, like the Porsche 918, hit the market and totally change the concept and appeal of electrified powertrains.  I guess we were ahead of the curve!

I've gone on to have all sorts of personal and professional xEV projects after the Fiero build.  The most recent racer project I had was the Spark EV:

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/2014-chevrolet-spark-ev-an-affordable-electric-rac/80158/page1/

More recently, I worked on the hybrid system in the Freightliner SuperTruck for my job:

http://freightlinersupertruck.com/

And now I'm working on the thing that comes out after this:

https://www.daimler.com/products/trucks/mercedes-benz/world-premiere-mercedes-benz-electric-truck.html

Oh, and of course, I also had this build I did with some friends with the goal of building another $20xx car that was HALF the weight of the Fiero.  That was another fun learning project where we did a bunch of stuff we had never tried before.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/2011-n600-west-coast-challenger/33452/page1/

The rumors above are true, work has brought me (and my family) to Germany...where custom cars like the Fiero would absolutely NEVER, EVER be legally allowed on public roads.  Ha!  I do miss hot rodding for the time being, but I scratch the itch with some occassional tinkering/hacking on my Renault Twizy or my electric assisted bicycle.  I'll have another crazy personal EV project in the future...when and what is a mystery, but it will happen.  I love EV powertrains! smiley

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
1/10/18 8:02 p.m.

Welcome back for the update. This build will go down as one of the all-time greats. 

te72
te72 New Reader
1/10/18 9:40 p.m.

Very cool build. I contemplated adding some electric motors to the front wheels of the Supra, for the same effect, but after talking with a friend, he suggested that I just buy a 90's GT-R instead. Sound logic, and much, MUCH easier way of getting the desired result.

blizazer
blizazer Reader
1/11/18 10:06 a.m.

Cool to see this story pop up on my newsfeed!

 

The Fiero is still alive, its safely tucked away for the winter in the workshop. I have to say that I dont know anyone who could have built something like this in the time Bryce had, he's a machine. With that said, there were a number of things I wanted to tweak on the car, so its been together and apart a few times since I've taken ownership of it. The switchgear that gave Bryce fits have been replaced with some more rugged pieces, and I've been programming an Arduino UNO to speak the ancient language from this oddball 1998 non OBD2  electric motor and translate to something that the Torque app on my cell phone can understand (please ignore the wiring mess). 

https://flic.kr/p/DJo3vM

https://flic.kr/p/FfttAj

https://flic.kr/p/2223j3g

I just scored a battery from a 2015 Volt at a local salvage yard for $1200 and have been imagining how it would look in place of the gas tank up the middle of the fiero.  The tape measure says I'm not crazy, so does the kinect 3d scan of the underside of a parts car.

https://flic.kr/p/DJnFRF

https://flic.kr/p/FfsVAs

https://flic.kr/p/YUM2UT

Maybe I'll pick Bryce's build thread back up here to cover the changes. Or make a new one.

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