How (and why) to electrify a vintage car

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Gas-guzzling classic car owners who are desperate by the inevitable switch to electric vehicles don’t need to throw away their car keys and fur dice just yet. Help is at hand.

Simply put, just because an internal combustion engine became standard back in 1959 when your Brick Red Austin-Healey 100-6 BN4 rolled off the production line doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Just as you could swap out a radio cassette player for a CD player and then switch to a super-fast Bluetooth audio system, so do the engines. Only on a larger scale.

Bigger looks delicate …

It is not particularly. Using salvaged parts from electric vehicles (EVs) such as Teslas and Nissan Leafs that were written off by insurers after some sort of prang, a growing number of enthusiastic mechanics and forward-thinking business types are offering a conversion service. from conventional vehicles to electric power. . It can take up to six months, depending on parts availability and customer requirements, but it is well worth it. Companies such as London Electric Cars, Electron Garage (based in Glenrothes) and Oxford’s Electrogenic all offer service for both unconventional and classic cars (or historic as the Department of Transport calls anything registered before 1981). London Electric Cars, run by one Matthew Quitter, is currently converting all Land Rovers used by Glastonbury Festival organizers to run on electricity.

Dear?

At the moment it’s a bit steep. The cost of converting a classic car can reach £ 20,000. But as with everything else electric vehicles, the cost will go down. The UK government is currently offering grants of £ 2,500 to anyone wanting to buy an electric car, but the Department for Transport has said it is exploring the idea of ​​retrofitting old vehicles with electric motors. Presumably, grants will follow. For Mr. Quitter, it is obvious to batteries. “It is a disaster to waste the millions of old cars on our roads, and government discounts on electric vehicles encourage scrapping,” Mr Quitter told the BBC. “The government must offer affordable conversions on old, inexpensive cars, to use discarded electric vehicle batteries that contain raw materials whose prices are still skyrocketing.”

Why bother?

Well, there’s the little problem with the UK government’s proposal to stop the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, which effectively marks the end of the road (sorry) for the gasoline internal combustion engine. . Oh, and there’s also the not insignificant issue of the looming threat of environmental disaster.

What do classic car owners say?

Like their cars, many remain unconverted. The sleek beauty of a decades-old classic car is a big part of its appeal, but don’t underestimate the thrill they get when they pull on the engine and the engine rumbles. If there’s one thing an electric vehicle doesn’t, it’s the growl of a purebred Jack Russell terrier.


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