Electrifying Classic Cars – 4 Important Areas To Think About


There isn’t a week that goes by without someone mentioning that we need to go electric. We need to get rid of our terrible, polluting, tree-killing vehicles and relax in the soothing silence of electric power. To be honest, these voices are right in the sense that we need to move away from fossil fuels and focus on something a bit more environmentally friendly. Now yes, I agree with you: this isn’t really news at all. However, I’m seeing an increasingly emerging trend forming. The electric cars on sale at the moment, are still too expensive for a lot of buyers. There have been criticisms over the styling, the excess weight and the lack of driveability for some of the cheaper versions. So what about electrifying classic cars? Is this ingenious or idiotic? Let’s look at a few factors to take into account.

The E-Type Jag is a prime candidate for electrification
The E-Type Jag is a prime candidate for electrification

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Now, classic cars can be expensive to buy at the best of times, and electrifying them will almost certainly not be cheap. But, that could be where the big expense ends. Classic cars are notorious for being unreliable, mainly in the engine department. They often don’t start, and when they do start they can overheat. And if they don’t overheat, they often use a boatload of fuel to get anywhere. And they need more regular engine servicing than today’s typical hatchback. Replacing the big unreliable engine with an electric motor could be a very simple way out of this. After the initial outlay for the conversion, it could be money saved in the long term, though everyone’s maths may vary.

For once, the range of a classic electric car might not actually be a huge issue. Not many drive their classics daily or very far. This means you can enjoy the car at the weekend, and have it charging during the week so it’s ready for the next run. Perfect. The electric motor (or motors) used to power the vehicle may actually be lighter than the engine that used to power the car. However, the batteries do add quite a bit of weight, so the car may not handle or take the corners quite as well as it did in its youth.

Having said all this, how many people attack corners in their classics? Certainly not the drivers I’ve seen, who prefer to cruise, take in the sights and sounds of the wonderful English countryside. The missing engine sound is a loss, which I certainly would find hard to take, but we have to move with the times.

Driving fast in a straight line is becoming something of an electric car speciality. For reasons I won’t go into now, electric motors deliver most of their torque as soon as they’re on. Torque is what actually accelerates a vehicle, in the main, so electric cars zip off the line. This makes them great in the city and great for drag races. It’s also great for classic cars, if the driver wants to ‘impress’ the passenger with some savage acceleration. The top speeds are not that high, but does that really matter in this country? I suspect not, and in any case, some classic car manufacturers developed an unfortunate reputation for overpromising. Some of the cars ended up being slower than the brochure suggested. So electrifying your car might make it faster!

E-Type style has always been its big selling point
E-Type style has always been its big selling point

This is one of the main reasons why electrifying classic cars is becoming such a big deal. You get modern 21st century engine technology, with classic styling. I’m struggling to think of many better combinations. There are of course good reasons why today’s cars are styled the away they are, due to safety of occupants and pedestrians, among other reasons. But no one buys a classic car because they are the last word in safety. You buy them because they are nicely styled, or iconic, or cool. They are feel-good cars. By electrifying them, we get to keep the timeless style, but with a nod to the environment. Arguably more difficult to argue against these now.

Do you have a classic car? Are you considering electrifying it? If so, what’s holding you back, and have I convinced you that it’s a good or bad idea? The market for this seems to be growing, with manufacturers offering official electric versions as part of their line-up. Don’t forget to use our services. Please try our new live chat if you have any questions first, and I’ll be happy to answer them. Thanks for reading!

What are your thoughts?