Having tried myself — and failed miserably — to convert my old Volvo, and noticing how the Duke & Duchess departed Windsor Castle in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero last year, this video caught my eye as soon as it left the editing room of the guys at Fully Charged. And maybe you already heard: Bond himself is going EV in the next movie in his iconic series, driving the Aston Martin Rapide E. Oh dear, what has the world come to.
The fully reversible Aston Martin EV conversion plan of the future
Jonny Smith went to Silverstone, home of British motor racing, to meet up with Aston Martin Works President Paul Spires. And boy was he in for a treat. He was presented a pre-prototype, test mule, converted electric 1970 DB6 Volante mk2 (worth an estimated £1.5 million, along with its straight six, 3995 cc, 282 bhp).
So, the plan Aston Martin has been working on, similar to what Jaguar is doing, is to offer a fully reversible conversion to DB6 customers, and since the drivetrain is similar in DB4, DB5, and DBS, there is potentially a total of 3,500 cars that can be converted. According to Paul Spires it will be another 12 months before customers can order a conversion.
Key points: Not a single hole will be drilled. No metal plates will be welded. A few new gauges with similar look. Fully reversible. Future proofing. Maintaining value. Going over these details made Jonny wonder, as we approach an electric future in automobiles, owners of old classics will be left with a choice in regard to how they want to enjoy their gem: As an ornament or as a motorcar. What an uncomfortable choice, especially if your car is worth millions!
Needless to say, purists will be divided on this. I had a fun discussion about this with Doug White, who had his lovely Mini Moke converted. I now live with my old Volvo as a daily driver while waiting for the right price point on the Tesla Model 3 in Denmark, and I must admit, I love the raw mechanics of it. Heck, my wife can’t even drive it, because she forgets the manual choke, which more than once has forced her to leave it stranded (drowned) for me to come pick it up. Some love the fiddling. Some just go for the esthetics. There will always be disagreement here.
What I reckon is, why not do both? Keep a few old internal combustion engine (ICE) slugs for shows and the occasional classic race days (on biofuels of course), and convert the rest to electric for daily driving. You can put the old ICE block on the mantelpiece at home if you like. You know, instead of a stuffed polar bear. Ahem … that was on me, not Paul or Jonny.
But seriously, Paul Spires has a point. Why destroy something beautiful? As he puts it bluntly in the video: “Do not cut holes in my body and chassis!” Aston Martin believes there is a solid future business in reversible conversions. I think the company might actually be right.
So, what’s under the bonnet? Very secret so far, Jonny was not allowed to see. Any specs? In a word from Paul: “No.” However, he elaborates with the interesting notion that when this project began, the tech team said the minimum specs could not be achieved, but a couple of years later, the specs could be met, and now they’re saying they could easily achieve more. We are talking about power, range, weight, and not least, weight distribution, to match the original. By also including the original brakes and suspension profiles, driving dynamics match the original spot on, just without the noise. As said: fully reversible.
Paul nails it with this: “We don’t want to fundamentally change the car. The car is wonderful, the car is a fantastic car to drive. All we are doing is giving it a heart transplant.”
Here’s the video. Very much worth a watch.
Oh, and I just have to say, kudos to the Fully Charged team for their incredibly smooth filming, editing, framing, timing, music, and overall low key ambient good feel of this video. I don’t think I have never seen such a grey, rainy, and cold video with so much color, enthusiasm, and warmth.