South London mechanic turns old classic cars into electricity for over £ 100,000
A mechanic in South London has been called “sacrilege” for turning classic cars into electrics and charging huge fees for his work.
Matthew Quitter, 44, who lives in Lambeth, was previously an IT manager before trying his hand at electrical conversion engineering in 2017.
Combustion engine drivers bring their cars to his garage in Vauxhall, where Matthew will remove the engine and all parts associated with it, then fit it with all the electrical parts of cars like a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla.
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His first order in 2017 was a Land Rover Series 2. Now his company London Electric Car has 16 cars in the garage, with a full waiting list.
Prices start from £ 30,000, although an average conversion costs closer to £ 50,000. Some have even pushed it to £ 100,000.
His most expensive restoration was just over £ 100,000 for the installation of a Lincoln Continental convertible with a Tesla engine.
Matthew says he’s doing “well” financially, but he’s determined to make a lot of money out of it.
He told My London: “I’m not raking yet. Some months I didn’t take anything and struggled to pay the staff.
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“I’m definitely doing this to make a lot of money, and I hope I will make a lot of it, but the passion for it comes first.
” It must. I need determination to see it through the obstacles I face, like going down to my garage in the morning and finding it completely flooded two days before a major auto show.
Regarding his customers, Matthew says some are “normal people” looking to convert a family car to and from work every day.
Then there are incredibly wealthy clients from places like Dubai.
“To them it’s kind of a toy and something that they can do mega-burnouts and drive on the tape looking super cool,” he said.
“The annoying thing is when some of these super rich people tremble at every bill.
“When you’ve done the job on it and been up until 4am for the last three nights, and they’re asking for £ 200, I just think ‘fuck you, man. I haven’t seen my family for five days and now you’re going to complain about a bill ”.
Despite providing an eco-friendly service that could renew a car’s longevity, it still came with its criticisms.
Some have said that what Matthew was doing was sacrilege. “What is a classic car without its engine? Some said.
Others have called him a criminal, claiming that a car is automotive art and not the original unless it is kept as it left the factory.
Matthew said, “Cars are one of those things that are very emotional and part of who people are.
“By their very nature, cars elicit strong opinions, doubly so with classic cars.
“I believe you can do anything you want with a car. It’s like renovating a house: you don’t say the same thing to someone who installs central heating and Wi-Fi in a house built in the 1800s.
Environmental concern is on Matthew’s radar, but it’s not his primary motivation behind the business.
He said: “It’s a factor for some of our clients. Some think being electric is just plain cool, but maybe that’s because being eco-friendly is really cool right now.
“There is one of our customers who owns a Bentley and his daughters are ‘ethical vegans’ and they will not ride in his beloved Bentley, so he will do anything to share the fun with them.
Matthew says he has always loved cars and that in 2014 he got himself a classic car.
“It was one of those stupid times on eBay.
“I had a big idea to buy a VW Golf but saw a Porsche 944 for less than that, it was only £ 800, thought it was an amazing idea. I was so wrong. J was just trying to prove to a friend that I’m not boring by buying the Golf.
“My first garage bill was double the price I paid it. So I decided to figure out how to do it myself.
After studying engineering in college, Matthew decided to try his hand at repairing his own car.
“I loved every second I spent fixing it,” he said. “You could find me at midnight in the darkest February on the ground under my car trying to fix it.”
In 2016, after catching the virus, Matthew bought a small British sports car – the Triumph Spitfire, which he said was incredibly cheap to maintain.
He didn’t have to pay a congestion charge or a very low emission zone toll because he was over 40, the only problem was that he stank.
He said, “I’ll stop at the traffic lights and the exhaust will catch up with you.” My girlfriend told me it would be so much cooler if it wasn’t so smoky, so I decided that a conversion would be a really fun thing to do.
After successfully converting it, he started taking the vehicle to auto shows, but was the only person who had an electric conversion. Had he called her before electricity became the norm?
“There was an element of luck,” he admitted. “I took the bandwagon at the right time.
“A rising tide lifts all boats – it’s something that grows and grows. I have exactly the right timing.
The business started in 2017 and has grown in popularity very quickly, although Matthew says he was not “remotely” able to keep up with the demand.
He could only convert one car a year, so he quit his IT job and got a £ 20,000 business loan to get things going.
Obtaining customers has never been a challenge for a small business owner, especially following the recent expansion of ULEZ and the fuel crisis, which have seen inquiries “skyrocket” .
The difficulty is in converting cars fast enough to earn income from them.
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