Owning a classic car is an experience that appeals to the senses. Purists argue that it is the touch of the leather, the smell of the fuel, and the roar of the engine that truly brings a classic car to life. However, in Newtown, mid-Wales, that roar is being silenced. The Electric Classic Cars plant, located in an industrial estate, is replacing the old engines of three Ferrari Testa Rossas, a Maserati Ghibli, and a Land Rover with electric motors.
Richard Morgan, the owner of the workshop, refers to it as a “toyshop” where vintage vehicles are being brought into the 21st century. The goal is to future-proof these classic cars so that they can be used on a regular basis. The process involves gutting the engines at the door and then moving the cars into a fabrication area. Here, bespoke electric motors are built for each vehicle. Other than the engine, nothing else in the original car is changed.
A team of fabricators meticulously arrange batteries, motors, and wires like a game of Tetris to create custom engines that fit seamlessly into the cars. They weld boxes and supports to accommodate the new electric engines, bolting them into place. Interestingly, around 40% of the batteries used in these classic cars are recycled from other electric cars, often salvaged from accidents. The demand for batteries has been so high that the UK supply of second-hand EV batteries has been exhausted.
For Richard, the founder of Electric Classic Cars, this project is not solely about saving the planet. Instead, it’s about providing classic car enthusiasts with the confidence to use their vehicles as daily drivers. Initially, there was resistance to the idea of converting classic cars to electric power, with many believing it would strip away their essence and soul. However, as more people embrace electric cars, they are starting to understand the benefits. Quiet, smooth, and powerful driving experiences are now being associated with these classic cars.
Richard compares the process to modernizing a home, noting that the cost of replacing an old engine with an electric motor can be significant, ranging from £20,000 to £120,000. Nevertheless, the expense is not necessarily for monetary savings but rather to future-proof the classic car for generations to come. It is like updating an old house with modern amenities to make it more enjoyable and convenient to live in.
While many petrolheads in the classic car community remain unconvinced, such as Jason Mills, the founder of Vintage Vehicle Restorations in Ludlow, who argues that restoring a classic car with an electric motor doesn’t feel right, the mechanics at Electric Classic Cars see the value in making these vehicles cleaner and more reliable. Nonetheless, they still appreciate the experience of the old engines, including the sounds, speed, and smells they generate.
Despite the reservations of purists, future-proofing these classic cars by converting them to electric power could extend their lifespan and provide a reliable, clean, and indulgent ride for enthusiasts.