EV conversions: BMW Z3 1999, Tom Cheesewright

EV conversions: BMW Z3 1999, Tom Cheesewright

In 2021 Tom Cheesewright converted his 1999 BMW Z3 into an electric car.


Tom has owned the Z3 for 2 years, his annual mileage is approx. 3,000 miles and the Z3 has done a total of approx. 174,000 miles.


Why did you convert your car to electric?

A combination of geeky curiosity and a desire to drive something cool; not just mine but the kids also who had a hankering for a retro roadster.


How long has it taken you to complete the conversion?

Including the restoration of the donor car, about 15 months all in. The base car was knackered though. Just doing a swap would be a lot quicker, especially if it is with a kit. This was all a bit…experimental!


Where did you source the required parts from?

Primarily eBay! That’s where I found most of the OEM parts: motor, inverter, charger, batteries and all the ancillaries (vacuum pump, power steering pump etc.). Some bits from AliExpress (e.g. connectors). Also, some specialist parts, like the control board were from EVBMW and things like the high voltage shroud. Some parts were made from scratch out of plastic (3D printed) or steel.


EV conversions: BMW Z3 1999, Tom Cheesewright


Did you require assistance from any specialist company? If so, what for?

Soldering! I suck at the fine stuff so had to outsource some of that.


What was the hardest part of the conversion?

Working on a driveway, in winter! Thankfully I now have a garage to work in. CAN bus is also a fickle sod.


What was your favourite part of the conversion?

Undoubtedly driving it for the first time. But it was also a great chance to do something with my eldest daughter, who though only 10 when we started, got stuck into the welding.


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Positives – list 3 or more reasons why you love this car?

  • I know it inside and out
  • It’s unique
  • It’s recycled!


Negatives – list 3 or more things that you don’t really like about this car?

  • It’s too slow! But that can be fixed
  • The range is too small (which can also be fixed)
  • The body is a mess (but not for long).


What else would you like to do to the car?

This project is only half way through (not that it will ever end). A bigger motor is going in at the moment, along with a variety of upgrades to the wiring and engine bay layout. A second pack is going in to double the range and it’s getting a complete body transformation, with a Z300S kit from Tribute Automotive. This time next year it will be a completely different car.


EV conversions: BMW Z3 1999, Tom Cheesewright


Now your car is electric, will it change how you use it?

I bought it to convert but I definitely use it differently to my old ICE cars. Driving is never my first choice. I’ll usually walk, cycle or take public transport if it’s practical. But with this one I don’t feel so bad if I do decide to jump in it instead. Obviously the range is limited (about 20-25 miles at the moment), so it’s not doing long journeys.


What is the average mileage range you achieve from your electric car when fully charged?

I’ve only tested it to the absolute limit (requiring a roadside battery swap) once. But I think the limit is around 20-25 miles.


How do you charge the car?

Type 1 Pod Point installed at home. I have plans to add CHAdeMO and Type 2 down the line.


What conversion are you interested in next and why?

Already started! It’s another Z3 that will be getting a bigger motor, longer range and a hardtop body conversion with a retro GT look. Then maybe something a bit more practical. Maybe a little pickup or an estate that can fit the family in. Maybe even an MPV…!




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