The free, easy way to switch cars online
The free, easy way to switch cars online
Converting classic cars to electric is a great way to breathe new life into a historic vehicle. Here’s how to do it and the best cars for a zero-emission makeover.
Converting classic electric cars is becoming increasingly popular as an environmentally conscious way to enjoy classic vehicles. Removing the internal combustion engine and replacing it with a zero-emission powertrain is a great way to breathe new life into an older model.
What makes a car suitable for conversion to electric? Well, any car can be converted at the right price, but the simplicity of electric powertrains makes them better suited to older, more unreliable classics, while their near-silent operation works well on cars with a focus on experiencing a more serene, luxurious driving style.
Our pick of the 10 best classic cars to convert to electric:
- Volkswagen Camper
- Mini Cooper
- Mazda MX-5
- Porsche 911
- Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
- Jaguar E-Type
- Land Rover Defender
- Volkswagen Beetle
- DMC DeLorean
- Aston Martin DB6
1. Volkswagen Camper
Few classic cars fit the electric car ethos better than an early Volkswagen Camper. It is synonymous with hippie culture and is perfect for converting to an environmentally friendly, zero-emission powertrain.
The stock petrol engine was underpowered, especially by today’s standards and when fully loaded with equipment for a weekend trip, both problems solved by an electric motor.
2. Mini Cooper
The classic Mini is the perfect city car thanks to its small proportions, while EVs are especially good in the city, where you’ll see maximum range between charges.
Several companies already offer conversions for these models, meaning there are established processes for updating Minis. Despite not having much room for a large battery pack, one example promises a range of up to 250 miles.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem very logical to fit a heavy battery pack on a sports car famed for its pure, lightweight handling. However, a spirited electric motor would breathe new life into the miniature Mazda, which was never known for its particularly exciting engine.
UK-based Zero EV has switched an MX-5 to electric power, placed the batteries under the hood and squeezed everything else into spaces vacated by combustion engine-related gubbins. As a result, the 50/50 front-to-back weight balance remains, which is good news for handling.
The Porsche 911 is a story of stubborn devotion. The rear-engined layout isn’t ideal for a sports car – the rear-facing weight distribution promotes traction under acceleration, but doesn’t help the front wheels grip when cornering – but the German company made it work and created one of the most beloved vehicles in history.
While the design of older models has aged beautifully, the performance on offer hasn’t aged quite as well. A firm called Everatti has fitted an EV powertrain to a classic ‘964’ 911 in a manner that is said to be completely reversible if the owner changes his mind.
With the power from 247 hp boosted to 500 hp, resulting in a 0-100 km/h time dropping to less than four seconds (about two faster than stock), many owners are unlikely to want to downshift.
5. Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
Electric driving and luxury cars are a match made in heaven. Companies like Rolls-Royce have spent decades trying to make combustion engines as quiet and imperceptibly smooth as possible – two characteristics inherent in EVs.
The British company Lunaz builds runs of converted classics, but the renovations go a step further. Not only has the petrol engine been removed and replaced with an 80 kWh motor and battery pack, with a claimed range of 300 miles, the rest of the car has been gutted and rebuilt using traditional methods. Modern touches such as an infotainment system and climate control bring these classics up to date. As you might suspect, such a conversion doesn’t come cheap, with Lunaz’s Roller conversions reportedly costing a whopping £500,000.
6. Jaguar E-Type
The sleek design and refined character of the Jaguar E-Type make it a good candidate for the refined driving experience of an electric powertrain.
Jaguar has even taken some parts from the I-Pace, its electric SUV, itself and mounted it on an E-Type. The battery is where the engine used to be and the engine replaces the gearbox, the remarkable result being a car that is 46 kg lighter than the original.
7. Land Rover Defender
Land Rover recently reinvented the Defender, which despite being one of the most capable off-roaders is now marketed more as a premium family SUV. However, those who need a back-to-basics 4×4 are often drawn to classic models, which have a more rugged appeal.
When riding off-road, the instant torque from electric motors can be a huge help, while these old Defenders aren’t exactly known for their reliability, something that can be remedied by switching from combustion.
8. Volkswagen Beetle
Rumors of an official revival of the electric Beetle have been popping up for years, but if you can’t wait for them to be confirmed, there are plenty of reimagined classics out there that have more character than any modern reinterpretation could muster.
Volkswagen has even jumped into the action by teaming up with German company eClassics to create electric Beetles using the electric motor, battery and gearbox of the company’s e-Up city car.
9. DMC DeLorean
The DeLorean is best known for starring in the Back to the Future series, but in reality it was slow, unreliable and not very fun to drive.
So it’s no surprise that enthusiasts have worked to bring the DeLorean driving experience a little closer to what its great looks and cult status deserve. With a modern electric powertrain, the 130 km/h should be in no time.
10. Aston Martin DB6
If you want to authentically live out your James Bond spy thriller fantasies, you need an Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger’s star car from 1964. However, it is the DB6 that is widely regarded as the epitome of classic Aston Martin motoring.
An electric conversion is already up for sale from British firm Lunaz, costing the best part of £1million, with the 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine being replaced with an electric motor that offers brisk acceleration and a battery that lasts a claimed 250 miles. to an attack.
Buy your new electric car with carwow
If you’re in the market for an electric car, check out the latest inventory from a network of trusted dealers on carwow. You can configure a new car and browse used cars to find the perfect car for your budget.
You can even sell your current car. Simply upload some photos and details to allow dealers to submit their bids, ensuring a great price.