Plan B for the vintage car owner: make it electric
A growing number of owners of vintage/veteran cars is worried where and when they will still be able to drive their beauties. An (expensive) solution could be to make it electric.
A small number of (exclusive) manufacturers is already offering electric versions of its old-timer icons (Jaguar, Aston Martin,…). There are specialized conversion companies too, like Zelectric, Ruf and the Dutch company Voitures extravert.
LEZ is the menace
In their endeavour to ban older and more polluting cars from their city centres, local authorities often don’t take into account that old-timer fans can become victim of it too. Some cities consider being lenient for real veteran cars, others are more stringent and don’t allow any polluting vehicle anymore.
What the future will bring, is still not very clear. Will Low Emission Zones (LEZ) be spread all over countries: Wallonia, for example, is considering to make its entire territory a LEZ. What about people who own and cherish old cars? Will they just remain to look at and not be able to drive anymore?
A rather expensive solution is coming available now: to replace the original ICE (internal combustion engine) by an electric motor. The iconic Jaguar E-Type is becoming available now in that way, it stole the show at the royal wedding of prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently.
Aston Martin even offers an exchange system where your original engine is kept and can possibly be re-installed in the car when it has to be in original shape to participate at a concours or something like that.
The only hick-up is the price: an electric, completely restored and refurbished E-Type will cost around 400.000 euro. Not many old-timer fans can pay these prices, although Aston Martin claims having many interested customers for the conversion. Of course, Aston Martin owners usually are already wealthy people.
The conversion business is also growing outside the car manufacturers. Since 2012, Zelectric Motors in San Diego (California) is converting iconic VW Beetles and buses into electric cars (± 55.000 dollar if you bring your own veteran car). German Porsche converter, Ruf, is offering an eRuf Porsche 911 soon.
Ian Motion in France is converting Mini Coopers and British Electric Classic Cars can convert your Beetle, Fiat 500, BMW or Porsche and puts in a Tesla battery pack and engine(s). Finnish e-Drive retro pretends to be ready to convert every old-timer into an electric one.
We already mentioned the eRuf 911, now there is also Voitures extravert, founded by two Dutchmen, Martijn van Dijk and Jurgen Moerman, which is specializing in the Porsche 911. They totally strip the original car, treat the structure against rust and refurbish it and rebuild the car with original parts.
In this restored car without engine the electric package is built in, with battery packs fore-and-aft to have a better weight distribution.
“It’s very important to have an excellent integration of old and new parts”, says Moerman, “you don’t want the car to feel as a sort of Frankenstein. The perfect integration makes the difference.”
There is only one problem: the total stripping of the car, the rebuild and the integration of the electric propulsion system will cost you around 300.000 euro.
Will environmental concerns make old-timer possession for normal people impossible? The future will tell… Even with the growing interest in old-timers, the number of real vintage cars still driving around is peanuts compared to the old wrecks still used daily all over the world. The challenge is to make the correct distinction, also legally…