Is converting old cars to electricity a collector’s crime?

Disclaimer: I write an electric vehicle (EV) conversion book and come from a classic car collecting background, where purity, provenance and historical significance are the paramount values. It wasn’t until driving a Tesla Roadster that I realized the electric motor had more untapped potential. and is great fun to drive. This puts my purist nature at odds with my preference for an electric future.

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

Are classic cars good platforms for electric vehicle conversions?

EV conversion in Kyiv, Ukraine. Picture taken by Clean Technica Director Zachary Shahan

This question in itself will make people cringe, while others will smile at the possibilities of pushing an electric motor under a classic beauty of yesteryear. The idea certainly comes with a unique appeal. Classic cars have been built before and manufacturing pollution has come and gone decades ago. Giving them a second life is a way to reduce polluting emissions and it is a noble task. But what becomes of them then? Converted classic cars lying in a garage? Electric daily drivers with classic car styling?

We’ve already covered EV West here and the wild Ferrari 308 that came to life as an EV after a fire. And the setup is just beautiful. Three electric motors connect to a shaft boosting the Ferrari’s stock scenic power while adding a bit more weight. The suspensions have also been reworked. We had no idea a Ferrari 308 could handle this well.


If you’re around Southern California and are an EV enthusiast, you must visit the store. The team has shown incredible dedication to converting the cars to electric and have learned and gained a lot of experience along the way. On our last visit to EV World, we noticed no less than three twisted, bent and torn driveshafts beyond recognition. Ah, the instant torque benefits of an electric motor!

Conversion of classic cars to electricity

To convert or not to convert? That is the question

I also have a classic car that needs an electric conversion, an Alfa Romeo Spider that is perfect for batteries and an electric motor – or, why not, two or three. Although the car’s character would change drastically in terms of ambient noise and vibration, even this purist thinks the extra raw power would more than make up for it (not to mention zero exhaust emissions).

Converting classic cars to electric is a deeply personal choice that involves desire, time and money. I know a famous architect who converted his own Mercedes 300 SL (yes, the original) to electric. And as more Mazda Miatas and other easy-to-convert cars get tired and battered, a new 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 this electric Mercedes SL


 

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