This Tesla-Swapped Plymouth Satellite Gets Pushrod Suspension!

Not everyone’s fond of the idea of an electric motor in the back of a muscle car, but Kevin Erickson is a bit unconventional. Erickson’s steed of choice is a Plymouth Satellite; a car that hasn’t received much praise as a corner carver, but his choice of additions should make it a head-turner, a capable track toy, and an economical cruiser. To create such a versatile car, Erickson picked one of the best electric powerplants produced stateside, as well as some ultra-modern suspension components.

The Right Stuff

Nicknamed “Electrollite,” this ’72 Plymouth Satellite has been tweaked and trimmed over the last few months to carry a Tesla Model S’ rear engine setup—one which he picked up from Stealth EV. Along with the 588-horsepower motor, he intends to use a 100-kwh Tesla battery pack, Orion 2 BMS, and a 6.6kw charger/DC-DC converter. Though it’s unusual now, builds like this might prove the potential of the electric motor to the doubters. Will they be as ubiquitous as say, LS-swapped vehicles? Doubtful, but who knows how the game might change in the coming years.

A big nod to Tesla.

Despite the car being as big as it is, it wasn’t designed to have an engine around the rear axle. This means real estate is at a premium at the Satellite’s rear, and as there’s no space for coilovers to begin with, adding a pushrod suspension setup made plenty of sense. Additionally, Erickson will have to put 928 lb-ft of torque through the driven wheels, so he’s bound to go with something broad. Squeezing a 20×10-inch rim in the rear is his aim currently, so it’s fair to say things are a little cramped.

For more background on pushrod suspension setups, here’s some further reading.

First Steps

The first step Erickson took was modifying the frame rails to fit the sway bars. Other than that, nothing was needed to make the Tesla’s subframe fit neatly into the Satellite’s original chassis—a testament to Erickson’s power for understatement and mechanical expertise.

After identifying the points which the pushrods would punch through the floor, Erickson welded on a set of reinforced brackets to the floor and the frame, added a crossbar, and began measuring. With a bottle of San Pellegrino serving as his compass, he devised a makeshift bellcrank and pushrod with thin sheet-metal and tested their range and articulation.

With a sleeved tube acting as a coilover in this mockup, he could get a clear sense of the range of motion.

Though his casual narration makes the process sound simple, it’s clear there was a lot more to it than his tone suggests.

Next comes Gerst’s front suspension, Flaming River’s steering column, and their electric power steering—all of which will have to fit around the massive battery. This is another hassle associated with retrofitting this Plymouth, but it does have the benefit of equalizing the Satellite’s weight distribution. One has to wonder what else this unique creation will offer Erickson once it’s done.

There’s plenty in store for this in-depth build, so if you’d like to witness Erickson’s slow and meticulous process, you can visit his YouTube page here.

More Sources

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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