CHANDAN B MALLIK, Kolkata: As governments around the world draft stricter legislation to contain atmospheric pollution, the automotive industry, often accused as a major violators of emission management puts us consumers in a dilemma. And it becomes even worse when you have to decide what to do about a a classic or vintage car in your garage or somewhere in a workshop or yard? The usual final verdict would be scrap it as it has no value as it would be expensive and time consuming to restore them subject to parts and resource availability. And despite all these efforts, reliability and cost of running and maintenance could erode your bank balance unless you’re filthy rich.
Now, there’s a bright spot in the horizon with the availability of battery powered electric motor conversion kits in the aftermarket. In fact, some enterprises in Europe have already entered the fray by marrying old car elegance with modern technology applications. And the results are beginning to show.
BH takes a look at some of the recent conversion projects:
This UK-based company is located close to the Silverstone Circuit. They convert old cars and the process is quite elaborate — the donor vehicle is stripped down to its bare chassis and then everything is restored or renewed, apart from the powertrain of course.
Lunaz started the EV conversion business with the 1953 Jaguar XK120 and now offers 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, 1956 Rolls-Royce Cloud, and a 1961 Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur.
Lunaz’s team includes former employees of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, McLaren and Formula One.
The technical solution that Lunaz uses includes using proprietary electric powertrain which is a pair of electric motors delivering a combined 375hp and 516 pound-feet of torque, which is enough for 0-96km/h acceleration in under 5.0 seconds. Depending on the model, battery sizes range from 80 to 120 kilowatt-hours. Driving range is impressive at 400km on a single charge. Modern EV features like fast-charging capability and regenerative braking are included in the package.
On the mechanical side, suspension and brakes are also updated to handle the EV power and modern features like traction control are added.
The interior is also upgraded with a power meter replacing the tradition tachometer. Power steering, cruise control, climate control, satellite navigation, and smartphone connectivity are also available if the customer desires so.
Prices start at approximately $416,180 (INR 31.1L).
This is a Holland-based enterprise that specialises in converting only Porsche 911s from the 1970s and ’80s. Interestingly, company will not modify 911s from the 1960s, due to their historic significance.
Voitures Extravert uses a single electric motor powered by a 58-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The electric motor delivers 222 hp and a massive 664 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 96km/h performance is under 6.0 seconds and a governed top speed of 112 mph. Out here, the traditional tachometer is replaced by a torque meter. Driving range is good at 400kms on a single charge.
The battery able to add extra range in 15 minutes when using a high-speed charger.
Voitures Extravert is conscious about weight management to ensure the handling of the EV remains as close to the original 911. The handling package is based on a modern suspension set-up which uses driver adjustable dampers and power steering. Starting price is $336,684 (INR 25.23L)
Germany-based eClassics specialises in converting classic Volkswagens and uses genuine VW components for its EV conversion. The famous ‘Bulli’, VW’s microbus of the 60s conversion gets a single electric motor delivering 89hp and 156 pound-feet of torque versus the 43hp and 75 lb-ft of the original air-cooler Boxer engine. The 45-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is stored in the floor and offers close to 200km of driving range on a single charge. A 50 kilowatts fast charging delivers 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes. Top speed is electrically governed to 120km/h.
The motors send out the power to the wheels via single-speed automatic transmission and brake-energy regeneration can be controlled by the driver. Like the original model, it retains its rear wheel drive character.
To improve the ride there’s modern multi-link suspension with adjustable shocks and coil-over struts at both ends. The brakes and steering systems are also upgraded to more modern specs.
It costs approximately $69,700 (INR 5.2)L for the conversion which includes chassis upgrades.