Classic car ownership has its ups and downs. Firstly, many of these machines are absolutely beautiful, standing out from today’s cars that follow conventional styling rules. Just take a look back at iconic vehicles such as the Corvette Sting Ray, Aston Martin DB5 and even the more wallet-friendly MGB. Looking at today’s offerings, it really makes you ask, ‘what went wrong?’
However, when it comes to buying vintage sports cars like these today, there are a number of serious – and inevitable – problems. A classic car owner will bang on about how great their car is, but what they won’t tell you is how much stress and anxiety comes with this ownership. In short, classic cars are money pits. But there may be a solution.
A new craze has arrived surrounding the electrification of classic cars, which provides the styling and enjoyment of the past, without the so-called ‘negatives’. By introducing an electric powertrain, these cars become more efficient, reliable and, in most cases, even more enjoyable. But can classic EVs live up to their grandparents’ heritage?
Auto Futures takes a look at a few examples.
The Mini With a Not-So Mini Price Tag
Everyone loves a classic Mini. First revealed to the public at the London Classic Car Show, Swindon Powertrain has created an all-electric Swind E Classic Mini, stripping out the car’s engine, gearbox and fuel system to make room for a 110 bhp electric motor.
The Mini achieves a range of 125 miles from a 24kWh battery pack, swapping out its fuel cap for a charging socket. Despite the new drivetrain, which adds around 80kg to its super lightweight frame, the Mini’s performance is reasonable (for a classic car), accelerating to 60 mph from standstill in just over 9 seconds and achieving a top speed of 80 mph.
You will struggle to find anyone that doesn’t crack a smile at the iconic Mini as it drives past. However, your excitement might come to an end once you flip over the price tag.
Still interested? Well, if you’re not put off by this lump sum, this more practical, environmentally-friendly and tech-savvy Mini might just be for you. Swap out the ‘charismatic’ rough-ride for a new suspension and braking system, USB ports, underfloor heating and heated leather seats and you’ve got yourself a keeper.
Next up is a car that Enzo Ferrari famously labelled “the most beautiful car ever made.” That’s right, the Jaguar E-Type.
Following Jaguar’s EV conversion project and an appearance at the Royal Wedding, the British automaker announced plans last year to sell an all-electric E-type and offer EV conversions to existing owners. Although the £300,000 price tag for a brand-new E-Type is unsettling, to say the least, owners of the original can fork out £60,000 for the conversion.
Many believed that the concept was built to show-off Jaguar’s new focus on electrification, ahead of the I-PACE SUV. However, they shocked the world and launched a production model thanks to the help of the ‘Jaguar Classic’ facility.
The E-type Zero, with 170 miles range, maintains the undeniable heritage of the classic Jaguar while introducing a specially designed 220kW electric powertrain that has the same dimensions and similar weight to the engine found in the original. In fact, the total weight is 46 kg lower than its predecessor, which introduces a heightened experience for E-Type lovers around the world.
What are you waiting for?
And finally, a personal favourite of mine, the Porsche 911. But, this time, the stunning German sports car has been fitted with an electric motor. Electric Classic Cars, a UK-based company which specialises in converting classic cars from the ‘50s to early ‘80s, has electrified an original 1979 Porsche 911 SC Targa.
The company has fitted a 54 kWh battery, ripped from the Tesla Roadstar, and uses two motors either end of the 911, improving its 0-60 by nearly a whole second. This performance figure alone is a great example of what electrification can do for iconic sports cars that need that little bit more oomph to catch up to modern rivals.
In fact, the lack of noise actually adds to the 911’s smooth and sophisticated styling. These days, most modern sports cars use artificial noises and huge open exhausts to announce their arrival. But this particular Porsche stays well clear of any ignorance, gliding by with a smooth whine from the motors, draped in elegance.
Classic cars cry out for reliability, usability, torque and power, despite what their owners tell you. Due to this, there is no doubt in my mind that electrification is the answer. The prices are incredibly high but, in most cases, this market is tailored for the wealthy – which has always been the case with top-tier classic cars. Let’s hope that we will start to see cheaper electrified classic cars in the future.
These ancient vehicles will eventually become extinct on our roads, as old age gets the best of them and they become unsafe and unusable. With EV conversions, these previous automotive eras can live on, thanks to a new heart.
The future is electric – for both the new and old.