Aston Martin Wants A Reversible EV Transplant In All Its Classics

All Art: Alejandro Burdisio

You realize, don’t you, that as car enthusiasts and probably collectors we’re all headed on the Hellbound Train? The Hellbound Train is headed directly toward that day when your internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle will not be allowed to be driven on public or private roads. Or you’ll be rationed a limited amount of permit hours to exercise your Triumph or Ferrari or small-block Chevy-powered 1932 Ford roadster a few hundred miles a year. It’s sinister and Twilight Zone-like, and might even make you stop reading, but it will happen before you know it. Now, Aston Martin has a reversible EV transplant plan.

Internal combustion engine classics already have a sell-by date in Europe

Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio-1
Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio

Leading up to the inevitable day there will be a lot of discussion about what’s fair and how much your 1965 Impala or 1953 Packard Caribbean is really polluting. But ICE vehicles already have a sell-by date in Europe. And some countries within the EU have moved that date up in an effort to stem the global warming tide. Denmark says 2040 is the last year for selling ICE vehicles and Norway, the Netherlands, France and the UK have all established similar bans. Now there’s pressure to move those dates up. 

There will be a social stigma associated with driving collector and antique cars. It will be looked upon the same as many of us look upon smokers as selfish individuals imposing their need to smoke over my need to breathe. It will be the same idea but maybe even more so.

Maybe Aston Martin has an EV answer

Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio-1
Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio

So what’s the answer? At the beginning of last year, Aston Martin advertised it had a plan. Of course, it won’t be cheap, but at least they’re looking at the problem proactively. It’s plan called for offering an electric “cassette” powertrain that was reversible. That last part is the key; reversible. 

Aston Martin has a Heritage EV department. It will remove your ICE drivetrain and insert an “EV Cassette” of batteries. It will use the stock engine and transmission mounting points so not a single extra hole or welded crossmember will be necessary. No cutting of the precious sheetmetal, either. Basically like the “Connect-and-Cruise ” crate motor program that GM offers.

This program uses certified engine and transmission combinations along with electronics for engine and transmission controllers. It’s a package that bolts into almost any GM product from the 1950s to the 1980s. 

A reversible EV transplant has already been done by Aston Martin

Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio-1
Classic Futures | Alejandro Burdisio

In the Aston Martin case the cassette bolts in along with “umbilical cords” that route the power to the appropriate components. Aston has already performed the service on a couple of its classic vehicles and the program was originally supposed to have begun in 2019. Probably due to the problems with capital that existed throughout 2019 the program has been put on hold. 

There is also no urgency from the perspective of many owners. Not yet, anyway. But as the environmental drumbeat gets louder and more draconian measures are put into place to combat auto pollution it’s only a matter of time.

Maybe an NRA-style organization to protect ICE engine enthusiasts might work?

Back in 2018 when the proposal was first advanced Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told Petrolicious, “We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come. I believe this not only makes Aston Martin unique but a truly forward-thinking leader in this field.”

It may seem like Chicken Little screaming, “The sky is falling,” but what will it take for this not to happen? Maybe an NRA-style organization to protect ICE car owners? A limit to how many collector vehicles you can own? Government-applied locking mechanisms that don’t allow ICE cars to be run but only displayed in a museum-like existence? Who knows?

The truth is we don’t. So, Aston Martin is doing something about it. What would you suggest?