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Roger Dougal aboard his 1972 MGB, which is being equipped with an electrical engine
Roger Dougal aboard his 1972 MGB, which is being equipped with an electrical engine.

Engineering students turning vintage MGB into electric car

The year was 1984. Roger Dougal, a newly minted Ph.D. in electrical engineering, was beginning his career in the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering.

He was the new owner of a 1972 MGB – a red convertible, perfect for life in the Palmetto State, where he could zip along the highways and city streets with the car’s top down practically year-round. Lightweight with easy handling, the MGB was a snazzy roadster for a young professor on the go.

But that was, shall we say, soooo last century.

Fast forward about two dozen years. Now internationally recognized for his research on power sources and systems, Dougal still loves cars and has added a passion for sailboats. The MGB was collecting dust – and a few leaves – in his garage. But the professor’s ongoing curiosity about all things auto and electrical meant one thing: He had to find out if he could build an electric car.

“I’ve always played with cars as a hobby,” said Dougal , who has a touch of gray in his hair as the years have rolled on. “I bought the car to rebuild it, but just ran out of time. I decided to do something useful.”

He took the car out of retirement and turned it over to electrical engineering students at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing. He gave them the opportunity to turn the British Leyland Motor Corp. vehicle into a car of the 21st century – a car not run on “petrol,” but electricity.

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The "converted" convertible

  • Who: Roger Dougal, professor of electrical engineering, and some of his students
  • What: Upfitting his 1972 MGB with an electric engine.

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