“EV conversions slammed by classic car experts” Autocar reported in 2019. This was referencing the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles (FIVA) which issued a statement criticising the conversion of classic cars to electric. The organisation says it is “dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles” and so “cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components (motors and batteries) to replace a historic vehicle’s powertrain.” It recommends that any changes are reversable with “original components marked and safely stored” so that the car can be returned to ‘stock’ or factory condition.
Despite this there are a number of companies that specialise in exactly these conversions. Lunaz, based in Silverstone, says that it preserves “the past by embracing the future, making the most beautiful cars in history a relevant proposition.” Lunaz’s stable includes a 1961 eight-seat Rolls-Royce Phantom V, 1953 Jaguar XK120, and 1956 Rolls-Royce Cloud. As a result, prices start from £350,000.
ElectricClassicCars.co.uk is another one based here in the UK. On its website you can see that the surgery has been performed on old VWs, a Beetle and a camper, as well as an original Fiat 500 and even an early Range Rover. The most controversial one however has got to be the Porsche 911.
The Range Rover even features power steering, LED headlights, and hill descent mode. Just like a modern Range Rover and of course much greener. This goes back to the issue of originality. This is a model designed as a luxury off-roader, the original SUV. These features (other than power steering) were not available in the 70s when it was launched but it is hard to deny that it is in keeping with the spirit of the original.
The truth is that people have always hacked up and modified old cars. Think back to the hot rods of the 1930s and the lead sleds of the 50s. And that’s just in America (or to be specific, California). Yet most of us would probably agree that if you came across a car from the 1930s that was modified in the 50s, it is more historically significant to keep it as it is than take it back to how it left the factory.
Then there’s Project X. This yellow 1957 Chevy has been modified and seen many iterations over the years. “Through its existence, the ’57 would serve as a test bed for multiple engine combinations, suspension setups, and drivetrain enhancements” according to Hot Rod Magazine. In this case it may be safe to assume that there is no way that Project X will ever be returned to a stock 1957 Chevy and who would want it to?
From chopped Roadsters to lowriders, there have been all kinds of car modifying trends. And electric conversion, the latest, is here to stay. It will allow you to keep driving many a classic for years even after the oil runs out and the last petrol station shuts down for good.