Wednesday, September 28, 2011

EVTV Build Your Dream Contest Winner Announced at EVCCON 2011

The Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention is mostly over. Actually about 16 showed up at the house for Sunday dinner and we've had three or four linger till midweek - the convention that just won't end.

I'm drained and recovering. We have a TON of video and photos - actually it has me a bit overwhelmed. I don't know how to sort through it all and there's got to be 70 hours of video and so forth here. It would take months.

But we are going to do some announcements on the highlights.

First is the announcement of the winner of our EVTV Build Your Dream Contest. This thing has gone on for over a YEAR proving just how bad we are at holding a contest while making it up as we go along. Reminds me of the my old partner Phil Becker's favorite analogy. "We have the skills = we know how to make parachutes. We have the materials to make a parachute. We have the equipment to make a parachute. Now all we have to do is jump out of the plane, make a parachute, get it on, and pull the cord BEFORE we hit the ground."

I'm very pleased to announce that Brandon Hollinger of ampRevolt has won the EVTV Build Your Dream Contest with his proposal to convert a 1971 Austin FX4, aka a London Taxi.

Ultimately, the winner was selected by Internet ballot with our viewers making the selection. This was a great relief to me personally (I can't take the pressure). But I'm extraordinarily pleased with the result as you'll see.

The contest seesawed between Brandon and Mike Picard's 1952 Willy's Jeep for most of the summer. But AFTER we closed visibility on the horse race for the final two weeks, Hollinger put together a video appeal for votes he posted on YouTube. It's actually quite artful, and apparently made the difference in the contest as we had a sudden influx of about 500 votes in his camp.

The convention purported to start Wednesday evening, September 21 with an icebreaker welcoming reception. Two guys, Steve Conley and Mark Wiesberg, showed up Sunday, September 18th. Steve was driving a purple Prowler and went downtown looking for us. They were having a hot rod show downtown and assumed he was an entry. He was looking for parking and found $15 a bit steep but paid it. A few hours later he had won his class, barely aware by then that he had entered it.

By Monday afternoon we had 25 people in the shop poring over cars with various problems and having the time of their lives. And it grew in intensity from there.

By Saturday evening, EVERYONE was drained and exhausted. Brandon, due to obligations with his job as a musician in Pennsylvannia, was unable to join us until Saturday afternoon.

We had an excellent dinner Saturday evening at the historic Southeast University River Campus School of Visual and Performing arts. This is a renovated Seminary originally built in 1843 as the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi, albeit not very much west. Actually on the west bank. In the shadow of our gorgeous new suspension bridge, it is a scenic setting for the evening meal. Chartwells catered a just outstanding smoked prime rib and baked potato. Brain Noto had cunningly provisioned the August release of Silver Oak's 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which was superb. One of the contest finalists, Mark Emon, of St Michael's Winery had also generously brought a number of bottles of their white wine which was also received with broad approval all around.

We introduced each of the ten finalists with the exception of Ralph Tate, who had scored last and was unable to attend. And we introduced Mr. Hollinger as the prize winner. Sponsors Netgain Motors, EVNetics, and Recharge Car were all in attendance.

Mr. Hollinger spoke briefly on how he got involved in electric vehicles and where he saw it going over the next few years. His address was very self effacing and modest, but generally managed to bring the entire group of 160 at dinner to tears in rather obvious manner. Mike Picard, the runner up, seemed particularly tearful.

And why was I so pleased? I spent some time talking with Mr. Hollinger at Sunday dinner at my house and indeed he spent the evening there before his flight Monday morning. This is an enormously thoughtful and intelligent young man, very much on the left side liberal end of the spectrum politically, but with very reasoned process leading to some resentment at a number of the coercive things in our society but particularly the oil/OEM/government triumvirate that would seem to keep us serfing on the fiefdom of gasoline. He's really quite determined to do something about it with regards to championing the advantages of the electric car. And while a slender musician from Lancaster might seem unlikely, the Austin FX-4 will be his FOURTH conversion.

My own satisfaction is a bit more pragmatic. The guy is good with a video camera. That's how he won the contest. Obviously we want to follow up with updates on his build and that's a bit of travel for us unless he can be persuaded to document it by video for us. And he appears to be more than capable. Take a gander:

This was all done on the run. This guy has many talents and many blessings. We look forward to what effect the award of these components will have on the future of electric cars.

Our thanks to George Hamtsra of Netgain Motors , Sebastien Bourgois, of EVnetics, and Josh Stilwalt of RechargeCar - all displaying vendors at the EVCCON as well as in attendance at the dinner. Along with Masterflux, they of course sponsored the "Build Your Dream EV" contest.

I can't wait to see, and perhaps ride in this Austin FX-4.

Jack Rickard

Jack Rickard and Contest Winner Brandon Hollinger with the Pile Of Loot


  1. Unfortunately for me I couldn't be at the EV convention, but I am looking forward to hearing some of your stories, and hopefully viewing some of your video clip highlights of the convention. It was strange not having any EVTV show last week to view, it definitely created a void in my week. Love the show and what you guys are doing to help a person create their own EV conversion.

    Try not to be too overwhelmed by all your video footage Jack, my suggestion would be to use some of the estimated 70 hours of footage as fillers to play over the next year on those rare occasions when you are unable to produce the Friday show because of some other obligation or event you want to attend, or perhaps you just want a weekend off. Maybe some of your video editing friends could assist you in turning your footage into a DVD that we can purchase off the EVTV web-site. (you need t-shirts, hats and mugs also!)

    Congratulations from Victoria BC, Canada to Mr. Hollinger on his EVTV Dream contest win, I'm very jealous.

    Dave Ox.

  2. Brandon,

    It was good meeting you at the car show over lunch. Congradulations on winning the contest and hopefully I will be bringing my own Miata to the show next year.

  3. Congratulations Brandon!
    It was tough but I'm sure the people have chosen well all round. The prize should match your old car nicely.

    Your choice will put many bums in your seats to savour the EV experience. Am I correct to say it has Aluminium body panels?