Here’s How Wrecked Electric Cars Can Breathe Life Into Classics

Electric cars are conquering the roads, slowly filling up dealership lots in an attempt to clean up our carbon emissions. But that leaves many concerned with the future of classic cars, those gas-drinking, piston clanking, air-polluting, smoke-belching four-wheeled buggies from Detroit, Michigan (Jerry Reed would be proud). Those thought to be timeless designs could be lost to time if gasoline cars are banned, or they’ll simply become too expensive to own. But crashed electric cars may help salvage these relics through the power of restomodding.

Chevy 3100 Restomod
Chevy 3100 Restomod | Motor1 via Instagram

What does it mean to restomod a car?

Classic cars are great to look at, there’s no doubt about that. But those old transmissions often stunk, air conditioning was optional, comfort levels were low, and overall handling suffered greatly. It all depends on the classic car, but they’re not up to code in comparison to modern cars. But they can be, thanks to restomods.

A restomod is an old car given new life, new parts, and sometimes a new look. In some cases, it’s just swapping an old transmission out for a new one, whereas other times the car is overhauled to create an almost modern cabin on the inside. Though in the case of electric restomods it’s a bit more complicated.

Rather than just swapping a few parts, the whole car has to be reworked and rewired from the ground up. Stripped of every old gasoline component and replaced with new ones. But the used parts market for electric cars isn’t exactly huge, and automakers aren’t just making battery packs for sale like there are engines. In order to find what they need, restomoders take trips to the scrapyard.

Wrecked electric cars can be used for parts and battery packs

Crashed Tesla Electric Car On Flatbed
Crashed Tesla On Flatbed | Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

If an electric car is totaled and sent to the junkyard, people can pick it apart for everything they need. This includes battery packs, which won’t be very useful in a car that can’t drive. But don’t be fooled. Just because these electric vehicles have been junked doesn’t mean their parts are any less valuable.

Even in totaled electric cars, their batteries can range from $20,000 to $30,000. In comparison, a base model Tesla after tax credits is $35,000. In other words, so long as the battery pack is functioning, electric cars don’t depreciate much at all.

This is partly because most crashed electric cars are relatively new, which means the battery packs are just being broken in. And even in the most intense accidents, electric cars are designed to protect that battery pack by any means to prevent the car from catching fire. So when you find them in a junkyard, they’re usually in decent shape.

But plucking a battery pack is only half the battle. Putting it all together can be even more expensive, though perhaps a fair price to keep your favorite gas cars alive.

Converting a gas car to an electric car is incredibly expensive.

A powertrain with an electric motor and battery of a VW ID.3 electric cars at the Volkswagen factory on July 31, 2020.
An electric car powertrain | Jens Schlueter via Getty Images

Of course, the price you pay to convert your car depends entirely on the car you’re converting. But The Day interviewed EV Detroit, a hot-rod shop that specializes in restomoding cars into all-electric vehicles. According to Phil Davie, the owner, “A simple car like a Porsche speedster or Volkswagen Beetle is $50,000. But if it was a muscle car, it would be $100,000.”

That’s a lofty price to pay to convert a gas car into an electric car, especially for the sake of saving the environment. If that’s the main concern, it’d be cheaper to just not drive it at all. But for most restomodders, zero emissions is just a side effect to their main concern: better performance.

There’s no denying that most electric cars are faster than gas cars, with instant torque and lower centers of gravity. So more often than not, restomods are done to boost said performance, fitting them with lightly used electric powertrains for that added pep. Sure, some folks may want to drive an all-electric Volkswagen bus and embrace the earth-friendly hippie in them. But more and more people are seeing the light and making the jump from gasoline to electric because electric cars are simply more fun to drive.

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