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: Larry Gareffa EV Pioneer

Larry Gareffa EV Pioneer

05 Jun

Larry Gareffa, an EV pioneer promoting electric cars in southern Nevada, passed away Friday, June 3, 2016 after complications from a stroke he suffered two weeks before.

Sparkey, an electric 1965 Mustang Fastback at SEMA car show, has been converted to run on batteries and an electric motor.

Sparkey, an electric 1965 Mustang Fastback at SEMA car show, has been converted to run on batteries and an electric motor.

Larry was a real “car guy” as past President of the Las Vegas Mustang and Classic Ford Club for seven years, but he was also a creative innovator on the Board of Directors for the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association, a local chapter of the international Electric Auto Association.

First Friday Street Faire, PureGreen Place electric car exhibit included 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback EV conversion by Larrry Gareffa, as well as Chevrolet Volt from Findlay Automotive and a Ford Focus EV provided by Collin Burnell.

First Friday Street Faire, PureGreen Place electric car exhibit included 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback EV conversion by Larrry Gareffa, as well as Chevrolet Volt from Findlay Automotive and a Ford Focus EV provided by Collin Burnell.

He was the main driver behind a series of EV conversion workshops that he hosted in his garage over the last two years on behalf of the LVEVA. His three-car garage shop included an electro-hydraulic lift, welding equipment, plasma cutter, power tools, soldering station, grinder, 240-Volt AC EVSE charging station, and a complete set of automotive hand tools.

1965 Mustang Fastback converted to an electric vehicle by Larry Gareffa and family.

1965 Mustang Fastback converted to an electric vehicle by Larry Gareffa and family.

Larry’s understanding of electronics began as a product tester for Underwriters’ Laboratory in Chicago, but during most of his career, he worked for AT&T as a field service technician, handling large accounts like ARCO Atlantic Richfield Company.

His service experience at AT&T included understanding the inner workings of the DEC PDP-11 computer. He later went on to “wire-wrap” his own personal computer in his garage, based on an Intel 8080 microprocessor and continued building personal electronics projects throughout his career. He was also fascinated with cars, especially vintage Ford Mustangs.

1965 Mustang Fastback converted to an electric car by Larry Gareffa and family.

1965 Mustang Fastback converted to an electric car by Larry Gareffa and family.

After retiring from AT&T, Larry combined both of his interests into fabricating “Sparkey”, a classic 1965 Mustang Fastback that he converted into an electric showcase car, that combined the best of old and new technologies to give a glimpse of the future.

The fifty-year old classic Mustang Fastback body and chassis were rescued and rebuilt to run on electrons stored in a 120-volt DC battery pack donated by Odyssey Battery Company. Sherwin Williams was also a sponsor, who donated an “electric blue” paint finish to the project.

Larry installed an electric DC motor, Kelly speed controller, charging system, and DC-to-DC conversion system from a kit he purchased. He continually improved on the conversion design by integrating custom computer technology into the dashboard of the vehicle, re-welding battery storage boxes out of angle-iron to get the best battery weight distribution, and even installing a computer display screen in the trunk for showing presentation videos during car shows.

Inside view of Sparkey retro-modern dashboard

Inside view of Sparkey retro-modern dashboard

He customized “Sparkey” with modern LED headlights, a mirrored panel under the hood, and other lighting features to give the 1965 Mustang Fastback a retro-modern look that attracted many people at car shows to consider the future of electric motor propulsion.

Larry had an amazing ability to take apart components and find the most simple and elegant way to integrate them back together in a beautiful display that combined the best of both art and science. He understood automotive wiring and was amazingly quick at solving wiring harness problems for other EV car projects that many people brought to his garage.

He was also restoring a vintage 1999 Ford Ranger EV pickup truck as part of the EV conversion workshop.

EV Conversion workshop restoration of Ford Ranger EV electric truck manufactured from 1998 to 2002, used 26 lead-acid batteries and an AC electric motor.

EV Conversion workshop restoration of Ford Ranger EV electric truck manufactured from 1998 to 2002, used 26 lead-acid batteries and an AC electric motor.

Larry was always generous about donating his time to educational outreach projects initiated by the Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator program. “Sparkey” was shown at hundreds of mainstream car shows over the last four years, including the Motor Trend Car Show and the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Conference and Expo, both staged at the Las Vegas Convention Center each year.

A video screen can be mounted on the rear trunk area of the Mustang Fastback with a DVD player for car show presentations.

A video screen can be mounted on the rear trunk area of the Mustang Fastback with a DVD player for car show presentations.

The electric 1965 Mustang Fastback conversion was also profiled in numerous magazine articles and online through the Internet. Just Google “Electric 1965 Mustang Fastback” to see lots of publications and images.

NASCAR DC Solar Station 4

Larry and “Sparkey” also participated in local renewable energy events like the Green Street exhibit at the First Friday street fair each month for over a year, National Drive Electric Week, an electric car charging display during the NASCAR Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this year, and most recently during GreenFest 2016 at Downtown Summerlin on April 23rd.

Larry Gareffa (in white hat) recharges Sparkey, the 1965 Mustang Fastback EV Conversion from solar-powered ChargePoint station provided by DC Solar and Las Vegas Motor Speedway during GreenFest 2016.

Larry Gareffa (in white hat) recharges Sparkey, the 1965 Mustang Fastback EV Conversion from solar-powered ChargePoint station provided by DC Solar and Las Vegas Motor Speedway during GreenFest 2016.

GreenFest celebrates Earth Day in the Las Vegas community each year around its official commemoration day of April 22nd, that is also Larry Gareffa’s birthday.

Godspeed.

Thank you, Larry.

Rest in peace.

Blog posted by Stan Hanel, NEVA Outreach Coordinator

Note: Thank you to Barbara Schwartz-Belkoff for sharing lead-off picture of Larry Gareffa.

4 Comments:

  • Jun 06 / Dave Sharp

    Larry was a true pioneer of the EV. His leadership and outreach for the industry will be missed. Thank you Larry, you made a difference.

    Reply
  • Jun 10 / Fredrick G Ramsden

    I met Larry only a couple of times. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him. May he rest in peace.

    Reply
  • Jun 10 / Evan Eskelson

    Without Larry’s capable direction and assistance I would not have been able to complete my last two electric car projects. He made his garage available, as well as his son, Chris, for special welding assistance to make sure the BMW motor mounts were welded properly so that the torque did not make the motor twist. He personally took over the remodel of my Kit Lamborghini project the last three months to get it to its current stage of completion. He was a great friend and a loyal EV club member. I will miss him.

    Reply
  • Jun 13 / Collin Burnell

    Wow! I just saw Larry at GreenFest. I’m speechless. He will be missed.

    Reply

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