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Are We Going to Convert Our Classic Cars to Electric?

Ritchie Hicks, who has worked in the motor trade for over 20 years, provides motoring advice, tips and tricks.


Converting a classic car to electric may be the future of owning a vehicle as governments clamp down on emission pumping diesel and petrol cars. In July of 2017, the British Government announced plans to ban all internal combustion engine powered vehicles by 2040 with many experts predicting diesel and petrol powered vehicles will become obsolete in the coming decade; many other countries are starting to take the same approach.

Whilst this may be excellent news for green-minded people, it will leave millions of combustion-engined vehicles with little value and make them expensive to run.

Converting a Classic Car to Electric May Be the Future

There are already people taking their classic cars and replacing the engine for electric motors and battery packs. In the Discovery program, Wheeler Dealers, engineer Ed China convert a 1985 Maserati Bi-Turbo to modern electric motors and a trunk full of high-powered batteries. Whilst that particular car had already been converted in the early 1990s, it was an excellent example of how relatively easy a competent enthusiast can make their classic car stand the test of time.

The Benefit of Converting a Classic Car to Electric

Whilst there are the obvious disadvantages of converting a classic car to electric, such as losing that glorious sound of the engine or the smell of an over-fueling motor, there are a number of benefits.

Cheaper Running Costs

Firstly, there are the much cheaper running costs (once you've recouped the cost of the conversion). With charge at home costing as little as $200, there are obvious economical savings to be had as the price of gas slowly increases.

Performance and Reliable Upgrades

Next there are the performance and reliable upgrades. Whilst some classic cars may have a great 4.0l V8 under the hood, many don't. Those people who own classic cars will already know about the hours of time spent tinkering under a bonnet adjusted timing, replacing rotor arms or finding the cause of no fuel to the carburetors.

Maximum Torque Delivery

They'll also know of the lack of power that some classic cars deliver. Electric motors deliver maximum torque from the beginning of the power delivery unlike petrol or diesel cars, which have to hit a power band (and then a gear change).

Fewer Moving Parts

There are also fewer moving parts in an electric system, which assists with reliability. Then there is the attack on diesel powered cars, which is going see diesel car values plummet.

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And finally, an electric conversation may eventually help to improve the value of the vehicle, making it more attractive for those people looking for a green alternative in classic motoring.

Is It a Classic Car If You Get Rid of the Engine?

Of course, the idea of ripping out the heart of a classic car sounds like a sin to purists, but like it or not, electric is the future. Governments around the world are under increasing pressure to reduce deadly diesel emissions in favour of electric power, especially from renewables. In other words, electric will essentially be forced on people in the future.

What About Countries That Charge Road Tax?

This is currently an area of contention. In many countries, hybrid and electric vehicles enjoy very low (or zero) road tax in countries where it's applied. Gas and diesel cars are rated on their engine emissions or engine size. It's therefore not unreasonable for someone converting a classic car to electric to expect the same benefits as those buying new electric vehicles.

Currently, there are no plans for any government to offer road fund license relief on converted classic cars. This process would be extremely difficult to manage. It might also provide a loophole to those who want to get around paying road tax by converting a vehicle to electric, only to convert is back to petrol once the new tax rating has been granted. It's a bureaucratic nightmare that no government is going to want to get involved in.

How Much Does Converting a Classic Car to Electric cost?

The cost of converting a classic car to electric varies depending on who you speak to, the technology you use and where you live. Most experts suggest between $8,000 to $11,000 (around £8,000). That's not cheap, but as fuel prices increase, it will become more realistic to some classic owners.


Whilst this article has waxed-lyrical about the future of electric classic cars, there are disadvantages of an all electric vehicle.

  • Range Anxiety. This plays a big factor with some converted vehicles only managing 50 miles on a full charge. That can make planning a journey difficult, especially with increased competition for charging points.
  • Loss of Space/Weight Increase. Those planning to convert a car also need to be aware of the loss of space and weight increase that all those batteries will use to power the electric motor. Expect to lose storage space and increase the kerb weight of the vehicle.

There are also a lot of issues surrounding the vehicle technology, such as battery capacity and lifespan.

Whilst electric is the future of motoring, there are still a lot of technological questions that remain unanswered, in particular the batteries and charging times. Nevertheless, electric conversions are the future; ignore at your peril.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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