Classic Cars That Need An EV Conversion

It is unequivocally clear that the world is transitioning to a future where the majority of private cars are going to be powered by electricity stored in batteries. It’s even clearer that, hand in hand with renewable energy creation, this is something that absolutely has to happen. Our friends from Goodwood Road & Racing are sharing some great ideas with us.

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But what is with the classic car lovers? Are petrol-powered cars going to go the way of the horse and become objects for weekend leisure use only, sipping through an annual, offset fuel allowance? Well, maybe some the of classics would actually benefit from a switch to electrical power. Are there any you would add to the list?

Aston Martin Lagonda

The Aston Martin Lagonda was, incredibly, on sale for 14 years from its launch in 1976. Even know the world has not quite caught up with its spaceship styling which has gone full circle – or should that be square given its sharp creases – and is now cool again.

At last Breakfast Club, bonnet lifted to reveal its gargantuan V8, which, quite frankly, looks out of place in such a design. The first car to use a digital instrument panel, at first using then cutting edge LEDs and later, in a retrograde step cathode ray tubes, the Lagonda would be the perfect choice for an EV conversion, retaining the effortless torque and power of an Aston V8 with much less complexity. A rewiring might even get the temperamental instruments to work properly.

Cadillac Eldorado

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The ninth generation Eldorado, which is exactly what most people picture when they think of a Cadillac. Two to three times the length of any European car, a (let’s be charitable) pillowy ride and a velour interior. There is a reason this generation of American cars is known as coming from the ‘Malaise Era’.

The other reason it is referred to as such is the power outputs of their engines. Or rather lack of power. The ninth generation of Eldorado used the Cadillac 500ci V8, which in new money displaces 8.2-litres or nearly three current BMW M4 engines. By 1976, thanks to emissions regulations, this produced 190PS (140kW) while still returning single digit fuel consumption. So yes, it has to go.

Citroën DS

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If any car deserves the name it was given it is this car whose initials, when pronounced in French approximates to the word ‘déesse’ or goddess. Styled by an Italian sculptor, designed by an aeronautical engineer and with ride and handling courtesy of the world’s first self-levelling hydraulic suspension, the DS was undoubtedly the most advanced car in the world when it was unveiled in 1955 and probably still a strong contender when it went out of production two decades later.

Except for under the bonnet. Citroën had envisaged flat-six power for the DS but lacked the funds to engineer it and there was no suitable V6 to allow the car to compete with upmarket rivals. The DS was instead saddled with an outdated and underpowered inline-four during its entire production run. An electric conversion would finally allow this car to make the effortless progress for which it was designed and the hydropneumatic suspension would shrug off any additional weight with aplomb.

DeLorean DMC-12

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Without its starring role in one of the greatest movie trilogies ever made the hubristically named DeLorean would likely have faded into obscurity despite its gullwing doors, stainless steel body and Giugiaro design. That styling also disguised woeful build quality due to an inexperienced workforce and heavily rearward weight bias due to John DeLorean’s insistence on being able to stash golf clubs behind the seats.

Behind that, in the Colin Chapman designed double Y-frame chassis, was one of the most uninspiring engines ever put into production, the PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6. While undeniably stalwart, at 132PS (97kW) it was nowhere near powerful enough for the heavy DeLorean even without its sportscar pretentions. An all-electric powertrain would help the car live up to its sci-fi billing. ‘1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott!’

Land Rover Defender

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The Defender has an unshakeably loyal following, all stout deniers of the fact that the car was outdated decades before it finally went out of production. You can not deny its classlessness, iconic appearance and off-road ability, it’s just everything else that makes it unsuitable for on-road use, not least its unrefined and less than muscular five-cylinder diesel engine.

While it would have been preferable had diesel-drinkers never made the leap from commercial use to passenger cars, the Defender was definitely closer to the former than the latter. An electric swap would transform the car in both ability and refinement while hopefully seeing the back of those primitive engine remaps which simply dump fuel through the injectors and overboost the turbo to produce slightly swifter forward motion and lots and lots of black smoke.


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Yes, it is the starter classic, a car which sold in the hundreds of thousands, propping up the rest of the increasingly woeful British Motor Corporation product range from 1962 to 1980. Popular, affordable and stylish, especially in Pininfarina-designed GT guise, the MGB was never really a sportscar, the blame for which can largely be laid at the door of its B-series four-cylinder engine.

Taking cues from an Austin engine dating to 1947, the B-series was nearly a decade old by the time it found its way under the nose of the MGB. In 1.8-litre guise this couldn’t even crack 100 horsepower, less than the twin-cam found in its predecessor the MGA and, being all iron, did no favours to the handling balance. Laughably, a short-lived straight-six version was considered a replacement for the Austin- Healey 3000 but things didn’t really improve until the Rover V8 was adopted. Far better to remove all the mechanicals and replace with ultra-reliable, powerful electric motors. Just don’t use Lucas wiring.

Peugeot 504

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Known as the ‘Bush Taxi’ the Peugeot 504 has had an incredibly long career since debuting as Peugeot’s flagship in 1968. Designed at Pininfarina it was named the 1969 European Car of the Year and produced by Peugeot until 1983. A good run for any car but the 504 continued to be churned out in its hundreds of thousands, remaining on sale in South Africa until 2007.

A stalwart of everyday transport in numerous African nations, the 504 has been dubbed the continent’s workhorse. With the potential to generate huge amounts of sustainable power, an electric drivetrain swap would allow the remarkable cars to soldier on for decades to come.

Rolls-Royce Camargue

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Really any Rolls-Royce or indeed Bentley, belongs on this list as, aside from Bentley’s racing heyday, these cars have never been about their engines. In fact, that the oily bits are almost entirely unobtrusive was often the main selling point. How many owners would raise the bonnet themselves anyway?

Classic Rolls-Royces are ideal candidates for electric conversions and our pick would be the largely unloved, Pininfarina-styled Camargue. The first Rolls-Royce to have a less than entirely upright grille – it slopes backwards by a dangerously louche seven degrees – and designed to metric dimensions, the Camargue’s design was an unwelcome break from tradition when it was launched.

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