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Spending too much to gas up? Build your own electric car

For some electric car enthusiasts in South Florida, it’s better to build your own.

Architect and computer specialist Andrew McClary bought a rusty 1968 Ford GT40 sports car for $500 on eBay and spent about two years stripping it, restoring it and installing a battery pack and other features to produce the red electric beauty that now wows people at auto shows.

“For me, oil is just wrong. We don’t need to be using it on our cars,” the 44-year-old family man said from his home west of Boca Raton. “And the price of gas is more than what we pay at the pump. Our country is going bankrupt and getting into war, defending oil.”

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Boynton Beach McClary figures he spent about $30,000 to build his electric car, starting in 2008. The price may be just $20,000 today, since the cost of batteries — the biggest expense — has been dropping fast, he said.

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Pictures: See what cars are new and exciting this year at the New York auto show.
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That investment is easily recouped. Battery charging costs about $10 to $15 per month — instead of the hundreds of dollars he’d spend monthly on gas for a conventional car, mainly for his 35-mile commute each way to work, McClary said.

In 2008, McClary joined the South Florida chapter of the national Electric Auto Association, which meets the second Saturday of each month to exchange tips, books, websites and just plain camaraderie with dozens of members and other attendees.

Club member Charlie Malone said he apprenticed in Fort Pierce at Greenshed Conversions, a shop that converts gas vehicles to electric ones, before attempting to convert his burned-out 1993 Nissan 240SX.

He took about six months to remove the car’s gas-related components, install batteries and get it on the road. Three years and more than $15,000 later, he’s still tinkering with upgrades, including plans to install air-conditioning by summer.

Malone figures he spends 3 cents per mile to drive his Nissan, vs. 16 cents a mile he’d spend on a conventional car that gets 25 miles on a $4 gallon of gas.

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