Zombie History

------------------------------------2014 VERSION-----------------------------------

With fresh bodywork resprayed Toner White, the Zombie looks like a meek Datsun 1200 with cool wheels.

With 500+ electric horses under the hood though, it may be the ultimate street sleeper!

Photo by John Wayland

  • Motor:

    'Siamese 9' dual armature. Forced air-cooling.

    The Siamese 9 motor was rebuilt in 2013, runs perfectly and is in top condition.

  • Drive type:

    Direct drive into Ford nine inch differential - no flywheel, clutch or transmission. Electric reverse.

  • Driveshaft:

    Single piece all aluminum driveline from 'Inland Empire Drivelines'. NHRA required Driveline loop.

  • Rear axle:

    Dutchman heavy duty Street/Strip Ford nine inch rear axle setup with Strange aluminum differential housing, Detroit locker and 31 spline racing axles.

    Photo courtesy of Keith 'The Dutchman' Ebeling

    Tall 3:25 gears, CalTrac traction bars and sticky drag radials take advantage of the electric motor's max. torque at zero rpm (1250 ft. lbs.) for quick launches! (1.33 best 60 ft.):

  • Wheels & tires:

    Below left: The previous American Racing 'Torq Thrust D' 15 x 4 front wheels with 145/65/15 skinny tires had given the Zombie a very efficient LRR setup in front, but too much positive wheel offset combined with tires 2 inches larger in diameter than the factory 12 inchers created a clearance problem that plagued the car since they were put on. Below center & right: They were pulled and sold to a guy with an old school gasser style Ford Falcon who knew the value of running 'skinnies' up front and already had the same classic grey spoke American Racing Torq Thrust D wheels on his car.

    Following the bodywork that among other things, repaired the damaged fenders, new custom built 15 x 6 American Racing two piece alloys were fitted to the front. Though they are 2 inches wider, they have a special negative offset that pulls the outer rim lip inward about 1/2 inch. Wider but much lower profile 165/45/15 Federal radials (about the same diameter as the original 12 inch tires) are mounted and they easily clear the fender lips. In addition to solving the wrinkled fender issue, the car's handling is dramatically improved - it's a good tradeoff for being less efficient than the narrow wheels/skinny tires setup:

    Below: The American Racing 'Torq Thrust D' 15 x 8 two piece alloys with 5 bolt Nissan/Ford bolt pattern and 225/50/15 BF Goodrich 'G Force' Drag Radials' (23.9" dia.) are carried over, but past clearance problems in the back are now gone as well. While at Blood Shed Motors as part of the bodywork project, Allen Koester handled the raw metal stretching, then Mitch Medford put the finishing touches as we tastefully flared the factory steel fender lips.

    The adjusted stance after tweeking the coil-overs up front with the new wheel / tire setup. Finally, the Zombie can be driven out driveways or across a grassy area at a car show without worry of catching and folding the front fenders. The new flares in back eliminate tire scrape on unexpected pot holes, over speed bumps and during wheelstands at the dragstrip :-)

  • Batteries:

    192 Dow Kokam lithium manganese nickel cobalt polymer cells configured at 2P96S make up the Zombie's 355V, 21.3 kWh high current battery pack. With a manufacture date code of 2007 the cells are now 7 years old and have been in service since 2010. All cells are still performing 'as new' and are well balanced. They are 3.7V, 30 ah nominal with a continuous discharge rate of 20C, have a 40C 10 second rating for a maximum of 1200 amps from each cell, and are configured in paralleled pairs so the battery pack can safely output 2400 amps.

  • Controller:

    Zilla Z2k 2000 amp controller. Quick-pull emergency disconnect.

  • 12 volt system:

    A new Meanwell high voltage model DC-DC was added, and is the first DC-DC to stay live under the hood of the Zombie - credit its 430 Vdc input rating and great design! The smallish (19 amp) sized DC-DC weighs just 2 lbs.

    Below left: The 16 lb. under-hood 40 ahr 13.2V Thunder Sky battery and 4 ch BMS. Below right: The under-hood battery removed. The original trunk mounted 40 ahr Thunder Sky 13.2V battery with 4 ch BMS board remains... the DC-DC added 2 lbs. but minus the under-hood battery we dropped 14 lbs. off the car's curb weight, and can now hold 13.5V with the lights on.

  • Other Mods:

    In late May we loaded the Zombie on the trailer and in yet another epic Plasma Boy Racing road trip, hauled it all the way to Austin, Texas where it received a full makeover. This was the beginning of our relationship with Blood Shed Motors. The trip had a two-fold purpose - to do full restorartion on White Zombie, and to codesign and build the Black Zombie Mustang, aka 'Zombie 222'... OK, there was a third purpose - eat Texas BBQ!

    Below left: The stout blue Hemi Jeep tow rig found a new owner and an equally stout 'Inferno Red Pearl' Hemi Jeep took its place, ready to take on the open road! Below center: Having learned my lesson over failed low quality straps on the Tucson trip (see 2012 section) dual chains plus the winch cable as a backup made sure the Zombie wouldn't break loose from the trailer again. Below right: Much beefier thick nylon straps and strong chains cinch the Zombie down:

    It was fun to see ractions like this at the numerous Jeep refueling stops throughout the trip.

    Oregon to Texas in three days:

    Arriving at the Blood Shed:

    First things first!:

    Below: With the Zombie inside the Blood Shed, the tear-down began with removal of stickers that had been on the car for years. Then, everything from the bumpers, to the lights, to trim pieces, to all the glass was removed.

    Below: Even the sunroof was removed. The wrinkled fenders were pulled from the car and repaired. They were then modified by spot-welding hand made metal pieces to reinforce the wheel arch lip. The factory right angle wheel arch lip edges were cut-away in 2010 in an attempt to make clearance for the taller front tires, but it had weakened the fenders to where any type of pressure would 'oil can' and dent them inward. Marko's thick curved metal back piece reinforcement trick worked well and the wheel arch openings are much more robust.

    Lots of hard work - More BBQ!:

    Below: The front and rear glass were pulled. Even the funky old headliner was ripped out - when you've got the windshield, the rear window and their respective rubber gaskets removed, it's the perfect time to install a new headliner!

    Below: The Zombie's front valance has been a source of embarassment in up-close magazine shots that glaringly showed dents, scrapes and even drilled holes (it used to have a front chin spoiler). Using a stud welder dent pulling tool, Mitch was able to straighten things out

    Did I mention we were in Texas?

    Below: Mitch Medford, happy that the Zombie is finally ready for paint.

    Mitch sprayed the car 'Toner White', then it was rolled outside to cure in the Texas sun:

    Waiting for paint to dry is hard work that makes you hungry:

    Below: Before remounting the fenders, new body seals were installed. Mitch even painted the sunroof frame and small parts before we sealed and remounted it. It always feels great to put the shiny stuff back on the car after a total repaint.

    We worked up an appetite putting the car back together, so we headed southwest out of Austin to Driftwood and grabbed more killer BBQ at 'The Salt Lick':

    Way back in 1998, we had the famous 'Plasma Boy' incident when the back seat area lead acid battery pack was accidentally shorted out. The intense heat caused an interior fire that blackend and partially melted the vinyl headliner (see 'Carnage' section, Early 1998). Sixteen years later, it was time to replace it and dress up the interior of the Zombie a bit. Mitch told me about Blanchard's Upholstry that was just up the road from the Blood Shed in Lake Travis. I met with Lonnie the owner (left in photo), saw their great workmanship, and had them to make and install a new grey cloth headliner while the front and rear glass were still out of the car. Datsun 1200s were inexpensive econboxes that had minimal interior trim, and the factory headliner was cheap thin vinyl that did not cover the painted A and B pillars, so I had them extend the new headliner to cover the A and B pillars. I also had them make a grey vinyl rear package shelf cover, as the painted steel shelf was a bit too 'shop class':

    I had ordered and received a NOS (new old stock) genuine Datsun rear window rubber gasket, but it was the Japan market only solid black gasket, not the gasket that accepts the bright stainless window trim all USA 1200s came with. After searching the internet, nobody had the bright trim gasket anymore and it's listed as 'no longer available'. This was very disappointing, as these before and after photos show:

    The Zombie's windshield had never been replaced and was pitted and had a few good sized rock chips. Attempts to find a new 1972 era Datsun 1200 windshield failed while we were in Texas, so the plan was to have Blanchard's put the original glass back in following their headliner replacement work. They were successful with the install of the back glass, but the windshield shattered during the install! What to do? More BBQ!

    The windshield disaster aside, the rest of the car was assembled enough to load onto the trailer for the long return journey back to Portland. Missing its windshield, we stretched shrink wrap around the A pillars and loaded the Zombie backwards, then prayed for no rain. With the funky wrap and the ugly rear window gasket, the Zombie looked pretty sad after a few hundred miles of the wind tearing away at the wrap:

    Days later we arrived home to Portland. After an exhausting road trip, I then went on an exhausting search to find a Datsun 1200 windshield. After scouring the internet, it turned out that a local warehouse had two in stock! I had bought and stored-away a brand new genuine Datsun (Nissan) windshield gasket three decades ago that was still in its sealed plastic bag, and I now had a new windshield! I contacted the good guys at 'Auto Glass Company' who's motto is "A Company That Takes Pride In Their Work" and they lived up to that promise. They were both Datsun fans, knew about and had always wanted to see White Zombie. The glass guys arrived on time and did a fantastic job!

    Being Datsun aficionados, the Auto Glass boys noticed the funky black rear window gasket, and asked if I had lost the stainless bright trim pieces. I told them I had the pieces, but the gasket was not the type that could accept the trim - they corrected me and pointed to the trim insert groove of the gasket. The online Canadian NOS Datsun parts reseller had told me the bright trim type rear window gasket was no longer available and that they had sent me the plain black type, so this was an unexpected nice surprise! I did not hesitate to have them pull the rear window out (the only way to install the bright trim) and do the job for me. While we were working on the window, I decided it was time to peel off the 'Suck Amps!' taunt that had been there since 1998 and replaced it with the monster green 'Zombie' logo - same stylized font as used on the Black Zombie 222 Mustang - brand/blood recognition between these two hi pro EVs that are blood brothers! :

    With a brand new windshield & gasket up front and the brightwork trim restored around the back glass, White Zombie was looking fresh and clean - time to address the details!

    Using a spray can of close matching Krylon gloss white, the hood hinges were cleaned and given a nice coat of paint. Again, I dug out NOS parts hidden away in in my EV shop, and found brand new hood hinge rubber air seals to install:

    The same detail treatment was given to the trunk area. Both hinges were cleaned and painted, then a new trunk gasket was installed:

    The tail lights, bumpers and custom license plates were all cleaned, polished and detailed. Note that a new emergency shut-off decal was added as well:

    The interior received upgrades as well. Below left to right: The carpets were made to fit better and stay in place. The factory door panels were detailed and have new black buttons that cover up the previous white painted threaded screw holes that held the armrests in place (no room for them due to roll bar system). New carpeted wheel well bump covers were made and glued in place (stock covering was paper thin vinyl). A new carpet piece was made to cover the bare white area where the rear seat cushion once lived.

    All the hard work, determination and attention to detail makes it all worth the effort. A special thank you goes out to our new Texan friends at the Blood Shed - especially to Mitch Medford for making it possible! As can be seen in the photos below, White Zombie is one clean and straight machine!

    Photo by John Wayland

  • Car weight:

    2350 lbs.
  • Races and EVents

    May 10th...Papa's Toys Car Show, Forest Grove, Oregon

    The first car show of the 2014 season. Located 40 miles west of Portland, Forest Grove is within the Zombie's range capabilities, so we drove it the 80 mile round trip to this fun hotrod show. My longtime EV sidekick and Team Plasma Boy member Marko Mongillo made the trip with me in his ultra-cool 'Fiamp' electric '59 Fiat 600. Note the Zombie is still covered in stickers (and melted rear tire rubber), as this was a month before its bodywork / paint job transformation into the clean naked look.

    May 17th...Road Knights Cruise In at Jim Dandy's, Portland Oregon

    This was the last public viewing of the Zombie in full decal / sticker mode. Marko and I had been eating at this old school hamburger joint for the past 20 years, as it's about a mile from the sheet metal shop where he works and where much of the Zombie's metal work is fabbed. We knew they put on a cool car show every May, but we somehow always either forgot about it, or missed the date because of other commitments - we were determined to make it this year! Note the 'Muscle Car' class we listed - we knew this would raise more than a few eyebrows at this classic old school hotrod show!

    June 28th...'Greenwood Classic Car Show', Seattle, Washington

    This was the 23rd annual show, the 10th appearance of White Zombie and the first public display of the new 'naked look' since returning from the Texas makeover. The reception was a little cool, as showgoers knew the car from previous years and missed the racing stickers - The spec reader cards still got the attention of the hard core hotrodders!

    July 5th...Oregon Electric Vehicle Association's 'EV Celebration Day', Portland Oregon

    The second public viewing of the non-stickered Zombie was met with mixed reviews - many loved seeing it so straight, so clean and looking like a largely stock Datsun 1200, but just as many lamented the missing race stickers and said the car had lost its famous in-your-face personality.

    July 11-13th...'Portland Historic Car Races' at PIR in Portland Oregon

    This was the 38th annual event at PIR, and we were quite excited that White Zombie was invited to be part of this. This year's featured marque was Datsun, with the Datsun 510 being the featured car. Though the 1200 did quite well on the racing circuit, it was its bigger brother Datsun 510 that dominated the early 70s '2.5 Trans Am Challenge' races, with the legendary driver John Morton at the wheel. Morton was the Grand Marshall, and it was great to meet him.

    Above left: Four+ decades after Datsun's 1970s racing era, John Morton and his #46 510 are still icons. Above center: What a highlight it was, to meet the man in person and have him check out White Zombie! Above right: Getting ready for a few laps around PIR.

    August 3rd...Laurelhurst 'Block Party', Portland, Oregon

    Plasma Boy got together with his former rock bandmates for a summer block party, which included a neighborhood car show.

    Panoramic photo courtesy of Steve 'The Taunter' Schrab

    August 10th...NW Datsun Owners Association's 'Blue Lake Park Picnic / Show & Shine', Fairview, Oregon

    White Zombie returns to this day of fun at Blue Lake Park. It is becoming rare to see more than one Datsun 1200 at any time, let alone a collection of them. Having solved the front tire clearance problems, it was a simple pleasure to drive across the rough field without worry of catching and folding-in the fenders!

    August 14 - 17th...'Route 66 Festival', Kingman, Arizona

    For our second big road trip of 2014, we towed White Zombie down to Kingman, Arizona for the grand opening of our Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation's museum. The Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum is the world's first all electric vehicle museum and is located in the historic 'The Powerhouse' - a fitting location, as before the construction of the Hoover Dam, it was the Kingman area's steam-driven electric power generating facility!

    The museum's Marketing Director, John 'Plasma Boy' Wayland had his arm twisted by the HEVF Executive Director Roderick Wilde, to bring White Zombie all the way from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona and put it on display with the other historic electric vehicles... this after already having made the epic road trip to Texas and back just a few months earlier!

    Below left: On the road in Arizona. Below center: The Zombie poses in front of a 'Cars' mural in Kingman - the movie got its inspiration from the Hackberry community on Route 66 about 23 miles northeast of Kingman. Below right: Possibly Tow Mater's uncle at the Hackberry General Store

    September 14th...'Copper Penny Cruise-In', Portland, Oregon

    This was an unplanned showing of White Zombie, but it illustrates the street nature of the car so well. I had taken a reporter for a test ride down the I-205 freeway. After scaring him to death we exited to find a bunch of gleaming hotrods - we decided to crash the party! The good natured show organizers thought the electric Datsun was cool and allowed us into the show to join in the fun.

    September 21st...'National Drive Electric Week XXX Root Beer Electric Car Show', Issaquah, Washington

    The old school XXX Burger joint is such a great setting for a show & shine event!

    October 17th...'Odyssey National Alterntive Fuel Vehicle Day', Portland Community College Sylvania Campus, Portland, Oregon

    Plasma Boy Racing is always interested in helping schools with EV education, so we were happy to display the Zombie at the Portland Community College (Sylvania campus) alternative fuel vehicle show.

  • Carnage:

    While in Texas for the car's body & paint makeover, the windshield shattered during reassembly - it actually shattered on its own when left on a bench overnight. Other than the broken windshield, since the Zombie was not raced in 2014 there were no failures of any kind. It was however, driven extensively as a sleeper street electric hotrod.