An all-electric Holden Torana hatchback is knocking on the door of the 11-second zone


TEAM Electric Taupo is at it again! Last seen taking out a 2014 NZDRA’s street car championship in an electric Datsun 1200 coupe, Kiwi racer Tom Short has ramped things up with this latest project.

The Datsun ran a best of 12.2 at 103mph, but has been replaced by no less a muscle car icon as an LX Torana hatchback! The Torana runs a tweaked version of the Datsun driveline and despite a significant weight penalty, the LX has already run a 12.0 at 104mph at the Amisfeild Dragstrip at Tokoroa.

“I ended up damaging the controller in the Datsun, so I went to a more powerful one and then decided I wanted something with a bit more muscle, so we transferred everything into this Torana,” said Tom. The electric motors are the same dual Warp 9 units from the Datto, but the new controller can hit them with up to 2000 amps, whereas the old one was maxed out at 1000 amps. And that adds up to more power.

 Each motor can produce up to 300kW, although Tom has it detuned to around 400kW in total on 1200 amps to increase the overall driving range – plus it’s already overpowering the tyres through to around half track so it really doesn’t need more grunt. The batteries are also new and significantly superior to what was in the Datsun. “I traded my Harley in for a Nissan Leaf,” laughed Tom. “During the racing season I’m using the batteries out of it to power the Torana!”

Tom has gone from a total of 90 batteries with the old setup, to just 22 with the newer Leaf items. “The old batteries would start running on lower voltage after a few runs which robs some of the power, but with these it stays at 350v the entire time,” said Tom. The other benefit is they are able to be charged up quicker and from a standard socket – Tom actually brings a generator to the track which he uses to charge the car up between runs. Out of a single charge he gets around four laps, but admits it could go a lot further if he detuned it.

 The final and most significant change from the Datsun is the addition of a Gear Vendors overdrive single-speed gearbox. In the Datto the motors used to run direct and it would top out by half track at around 85mph – now it keeps on pulling through to the finish line. The aim is to run elevens at around 110mph, which Tom is confident he can achieve with a set of taller slick tyres. It’s doing 1.7-second 60ft times on street rubber!

“The track commentators still think it has a V8,” laughed Tom. “The engine bay is completely empty, the electric motors are where the gearbox would normally be. We’re thinking about putting a BBQ under the bonnet!”

So you’re probably wondering what the cost of all of this is; if you already had a car Tom reckons it would probably cost you around $60,000 including the cost of buying a brand new Nissan Leaf electric car. Sounds expensive but Tom is having a whole lot of fun with it, freaking out the petrol head purists. Is this the future of drag racing? Let us know in the comments!