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Published on April 12th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart

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Is Converting Old Cars To Electricity A Collector Crime?

April 12th, 2018 by  


Disclaimer: I’m writing an electric vehicle (EV) conversion book and come from a classic car collector background, where purity, provenance, and historical significance are the prime values. It wasn’t until driving a Tesla Roadster that it became clear to me that the electric motor has more untapped potential and is a lot of fun to drive. That puts my purist nature at odds with my preference for an electric future.

One thing purists never do is change things. They keep their cars original, intact, and in mint condition. However, not all class car collectors are purists, and some go wild with modifications. A growing trend that changes the car quite a bit? Electrifying it. And one thing is clear: converting an old classic to electric takes guts, time, resources, and a healthy budget.

Are Collector Cars Good Platforms For EV Conversions?

Converting classic Cars To ElectricityConverting classic Cars To Electricity

EV conversion in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo taken by CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan

That question itself will make some grind their teeth, while others will grin at the possibilities of shoving an electric motor under a classic beauty of yesteryears. The idea certainly comes with some unique appeal. Classic cars have already been built and the pollution from manufacturing came and went decades ago. Giving them a second life is a way to cut polluting emissions and is a noble task. But what do they become then? Converted collector cars that sit in a garage? Electric daily drivers with a classic car styling?

We’ve already covered EV West here and the wild Ferrari 308 that came back to life as an EV after a fire. And the setup is simply stunning. Three electric motors connect to a shaft boosting the original quaint power of the Ferrari while adding a little more weight. The suspensions have been reworked as well. We never knew a Ferrari 308 could handle so well.

Electrifying Classic Cars

When people think about electric cars, sleek, new models usually come to mind. To be sure, they’re incredible feats of engineering. But what about the millions of cars already on the road? Enter EV West. Starting with the classics, this unique shop is converting existing cars into all-electric road warriors. And potentially reinventing the electric car landscape in the process.

Posted by DIY Science on Monday, January 29, 2018


If you’re around southern California and are an EV aficionado, you have to visit the shop. The team has shown an incredible dedication to converting cars to electricity and has learned and picked up a lot of experience along the way. On our last visit to EV World, we noticed no fewer than three driveshafts contorted, bent, and torn beyond recognition. Ah, the benefits of the instantaneous torque of an electric motor!

Converting classic Cars To Electricity

To Convert, Or Not To Converter? That Is The Question

I also have a collector car that begs for an electric conversion, an Alfa Romeo Spider that is a perfect fit for batteries and an electric motor — or, well, why not two or three. Although the character of the car would changes drastically in terms of ambient noise and vibration, even this purist thinks the added raw power would more than make up for that (not to mention the zero tailpipe emissions).

Converting classic cars to electricity is a deeply personal choice that involves desire, time, and money. I know of a famous architect who converted his very own Mercedes 300 SL (yes, the original) to electricity. And as more Mazda Miatas and other easy-to-convert cars become tired and battered, a fresh electric conversion will squeeze more miles out of a body that was produced decades ago. It’s a win-win situation, albeit a personal one.

No, not that electric Mercedes SL 
 

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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. His communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"



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