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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

September 21, 2012 at 7:21 PM

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Electrifying use of a used car


Sketched Sept. 18, 2012

The odometer on my 1999 Chevrolet Prizm is nearing 100,000 miles, so it may be time to get a new and more fuel-efficient model. If money were no object, I'd buy one of those nifty Chevy Volts.

Or, if I were more car savvy, I could follow Jeff Finn's example.

The 71-year-old Bellevue resident saved a 2000 Chevy Metro from the junk yard, stripped out all the gas motors' pieces and turned it into a one-of-a-kind zero-emissions vehicle he named the "Volt Runner."

His bill: $250 for the car, which had 190,000+ miles, $8,000 in parts, $800 for the paint job and $5,000 in labor he paid a local electric-vehicle builder he met through the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA).

"I'm not spending money on gas; I don't have any repair bills," Finn told me at a plug-in station in South Lake Union. And the Volt Runner is fun to drive, he said, because of "the elegant simplicity of it all."


The fuel and temperature indicators inside Finn's car have become decoration. He has labeled the gauges with bright green labels that say "obsolete."

National Plug In Day: Jeff Finn and other local electric-vehicle owners are showing their vehicles this Sunday at events in Snoqualmie Falls and the Seattle Center from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information visit:

What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

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