Let’s face it, whether you’re a fan of cars or not, almost everyone can agree that there’s nothing quite like a classic car. Whether you can rebuild engines or can’t tell your Toyota Rav4 from the Honda CR-V in the parking lot, you probably think that old cars just look cooler (and of course, they do). But just about everybody knows that there are downsides to old cars too. They’re difficult to keep running reliably, they’re sometimes expensive to work on, and compared to modern cars, most of them are just unpleasant to drive.
So what if you could just take out the old, slow, heavy, exhaust-belching engines of yesteryear and replace them with something cleaner and more modern? Engine swaps are nothing new to the automotive world, but as the technology continues to be refined, more and more people are retrofitting classics with electric drivetrains. All around the world, shops are giving these pretty but largely obsolete cars a second chance at life through the latest EV engineering. Someday, it may be common to see vintage Mustangs, Porsches, or even Ferraris zipping around silently with electric motors under the hood. But until then, check out these classic cars that have been converted to run on electric power.
1. Zelectric Beetle
The classic Volkswagen Beetle is timelessly cool, but let’s face it, with most cars putting out less than 75 horsepower, they’re almost unworkably slow by today’s standards. That’s what makes the Zelectric Beetle so cool. The San Diego-based company takes fully-restored, collectible Bugs (1958-’67 models) and installs their electric motor, which is designed to last for 100 years. While it’s mated to a four-speed transmission like the original car, brakes, suspension, tires, lighting, and the heater are upgraded. The result is one of the coolest EVs out there, with a 100-mile range and tons of torque. With conversions starting at $54,500 (car not included), Zelectric Beetles aren’t cheap. And if you don’t like you’re electrified VW, Zelectric’s modifications are 100% reversible. We just don’t why anyone would want to take one back to stock.
2. Renovo Shelby Daytona
Designed to compete in the 1964-’65 FIA endurance racing season, the Shelby Daytona has become one of the most famous American race cars ever. And while millions of gearheads love them, there’s a problem: Shelby built just six cars back in the ’60s. Today, Renovo builds an all-electric Daytona. Modified by Peter Brock (the Daytona’s designer) to accommodate an electric powertrain, the Renovo has approximately 500 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 happens in 3.2 seconds, and top speed is 120 miles per hour. Built in extremely limited numbers, the Renovo sold for $529,000.
3. Electric GT Ferrari 308
Ferraris are prized for their big V8s and V12s. But unfortunately, they have a tendency to catch on fire every now and again. So before you get angry about this audacious electric Ferrari conversion, know that this 1978 308 was destined for the scrapyard because of one. Today, the electric Ferrari can go zero to 60 in five seconds and can top out at 180 miles per hour. Electric GT doesn’t list a price for their 308 (it converts classic Fiat 124s for $48,000), but it’s willing to build more.
4. Toyota AE86
The 1983-’87 Toyota AE86 Corolla is prized among Japanese car collectors and fans of drifting for its light curb weight, tunable engine, and easily modifiable chassis. And while plenty of people have dropped larger engines in an AE86’s, only one person has converted one to electric power. Omead Moinee’s AE86 made its debut at SEMA 2015. With a 275-volt battery pack, this Toyota still has its five-speed manual transmission and makes an impressive 330 pound-feet of torque. As a result, this tiny performance car can still rip donuts with the best of them.
5. Bloodshed Motors Mustang
With a good portion of surviving older Mustangs pulling duty on the drag strip, it’s probably unsurprising that someone decided to take the instant torque of an electric motor and replace an ancient big block V8 with one. Texas-based Bloodshed Motors has done just that with the Zombie 222. Based on a 1968 Mustang, the Zombie can scream from zero to 60 in 1.7 seconds, and runs the quarter mile in 9.89 seconds at 140.6 miles per hour. As a follow-up, Bloodshed Motors is working on electrifying a ’65 Mustang convertible and a ’64 Lincoln Continental.
6. Zeletric Porsche 911
While Zelectric gets a lot of publicity for its Volkswagen conversions, it can do other rear-engine cars too — like the classic Porsche 911. Now, vintage Porsches may be skyrocketing in value, but there are plenty of basketcase projects out there. This 911 started out as a 1973 Targa. Today, it has two electric motors and a battery pack from a Tesla Model S.
If you’re an eco-warrior with a passion for vintage cars, Zelectric can remove your car’s stock engine and store it for you after the electric conversion. Like its Volkswagens, the company’s 911 conversions are largely bolt-in; no modifications are made to the structure of these valuable vintage German sports cars.
7. Electric DeLorean
In Back to the Future, Doc Brown assures Marty that “this sucker’s electrical” when he’s talking about his DeLorean DMC-12. In reality, the production DeLorean was powered by a lackluster 2.85 liter V6. But there’s a new DeLorean Motor Company. The Texas-based business owns all of the remaining DeLorean parts stock, and in 2011, they built an all-electric DeLorean. Zero to 60 comes in 4.9 seconds, and it has a 70-plus mile range.
8. Morgan EV3
While most of these cars are retrofitted with electric engines, this one comes straight from the manufacturer. British sports car builder Morgan built its first three-wheeled vehicles in 1911. After an update in the 1930s, the company made them largely unchanged until the ’50s. In 2012, it brought the 3-Wheeler back, faithfully recreating its pre-war design. And in 2016, it began selling the EV3, an electric version of the trike. With a 150-mile range, the EV3 can scramble from zero to 60 in under nine seconds. Considering that it has a wide-open cockpit, it’s the fastest 60 miles an hour you’ll ever feel in your life.
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