Well, it may have been a long time coming, but the age of the EV is finally upon us. Be it out of foresight or forced action, automakers everywhere are rolling out ambitious electrification strategies targeting a completely battery-powered lineup by the end of the decade. In spite of some initial resistance, the car community has started to come around to the inevitable march of the industry’s progress. After all, such vehicles are constantly redefining the standards of automotive performance, offering instantaneous torque delivery, lightning-quick acceleration, and better long-term reliability amongst a long list of other improvements. If you’re buying a new car, then, an electrified future could very well be brighter.
But what if you’re a classic car enthusiast? What if you’re hell-bent on tuning carburetors and the sound of a V8 is the only thing that gets you going? For the time being, emissions regulations only apply to more modern vehicles; however, there’s no telling what the situation could look like 10, 20, or even 30 years down the line. Sure, your classic might be considered charmingly retro come 2050, but it could just as easily be relegated to the status of fossil fuel-burning relic. As such, many restoration outfits have switched gears in recent years, adapting their process to accommodate the possibility of a reality in which EVs are the only cars allowed on the road. For some, an electrified engine swap may be considered heresy, though that’s ignoring the fact that it’s given many older vehicles a new lease on life. And besides, there’s no denying the potential that such electromods have to offer. What follows are what we believe to be the best electric car conversions money can buy.
London Electric Cars
London Electric Cars offers a made-to-order electric conversion service that can be catered to any customer’s classic vehicle, but it currently concentrates on Minis, Land Rovers, and Morrises. The English outfit’s most recent effort comes in the form of a 1993 Rover Mini that’s been fitted with the motor and drivetrain from a Nissan Leaf. Built with a 20kWh battery pack shoehorned into the trunk and under the rear seat, it offers up to 70 miles of city driving. However, should your commute require more time in the car, it can also be upgraded to provide ranges up to and over 250 miles.
Moment Motors Datsun
Another shop that’s set up as a bespoke build service, Austin-based Moment Motors exclusively works with classics deemed to be of iconic status. Because every creation is unique in its requirements, Moment uses a modular power system based around single, in-line, and stacked dual-motor configurations, with interchangeable transmission adapters for easy mounting. Moreover, they’ve developed an accompanying battery enclosure setup using reclaimed Tesla modules and buildable bricks that can be placed around the vehicle according to its available space. Though Moment has completed any number of eye-catching customs, our pick would have to be one of their old-school Z cars like the one pictured above.
A specialist in all things Porsche and VW, Zelectric offers electric conversions for a variety of different German classics, be it a 356, a Beetle, or even a Thing. The Microbus shown here was actually built for an Omaze giveaway in early 2021, so needless to say, it’s dressed to the nines with 21st-century components. Powered by a liquid-cooled 32kWh Tesla Model S battery pack, it features a 115hp electric motor, regenerative braking, upgraded suspension, and a drive-by-wire throttle system. Inside, it only gets better, as the Microbus comes with electric cabin heating, an onboard 12V trickle charger, a custom Alpine sound system, as well as a backup camera, and even a pedestrian alert bell.
RBW MGB Roadster
Having owned a host of old MGs, Triumphs, and Jaguars himself over the years, RBW Classic & Sports Cars managing director Peter Swain wanted to ensure that these vintage rides would stay relevant in the modern-day. As such, he founded RBW Electric, with one of the firm’s first offerings being an MGB Roadster like the one here. Rather than repurposing the worn-out sheet metal of the original car, RBW has partnered with British Motor Heritage to provide new shells made to the exact same specs. Afterward, each car is treated to an interior done up by Protrim, adding a WiFi-enabled Pioneer navigation system, a 7-inch color touchscreen, and electric windows amongst a long list of other amenities. Rounded out by a 70kW Continental motor and six Hyperdrive Li-Ion batteries, it’s good for 200 miles of range and an 80mph top speed.
E.C.D. Electric Defender
If you’re familiar with E.C.D. because of its eye-catching Defender customs, then you’ll be pleased to know that the off-road restoration outfit has recently begun offering electric Land Rover conversions. Under the hood, it hides a 450hp drivetrain pulled from a Tesla platform. Good for 220 miles of range on a single 10-hour charge (you can cut that time in half with three-phase power) it’ll thunder to 60mph in a blistering 5.5s. Assuming that isn’t enough grunt for your explorations away from the tarmac, there’s even a 600hp option that’ll shave a further two seconds off that time. Of course, being an E.C.D. build, the electrified Defender comes with all sorts of off-road upgrades to the suspension, as well as things like downhill assist, traction control, and regenerative braking.
Zero Labs Series III Classic
Like some of the above options, Zero Labs allows you to provide the donor vehicle of your choice, meaning that almost any classic can get an electrified refresh. Currently, they offer a four-format platform that’s available in 4×4, muscle, two-door coupé, and pickup configurations. Once buyers submit their car for conversion, it’s completely disassembled, with every one of the previous components replaced by modern upgrades. Just 30 days later, out pops the final product, mated to a new all-electric drivetrain, and riding on a markedly improved independent front and rear suspension. Making some 600hp courtesy of a motorsport-derived HV power system, builds can be specced with either an 80 or a 100kWh battery for up to and over 235 miles of range.
Everrati Porsche 911 964
Oxfordshire-based Everrati Automotive offers electromods for a number of vintage vehicles, including four different Porsche 911s, a Land Rover Series IIA, as well as a Mercedes-Benz 280SL ‘Pagoda.’ The 964 seen here is the latest to join the lineup, and boy oh boy is it something special. Available in both narrow- and widebody specs, it’s first fully restored by Porsche specialists, after which it’s fitted with a 53Kwh battery pack, a 440-500hp electric motor, and a custom Quaife ATB Torque biasing differential. Such a setup makes for quite the upgrade over the petrol-powered flat-six, as it’s enough to take the Stuttgart stunner to 60mph in less than four seconds while still providing over 150 miles of range. Topped off with a modernized interior complete with heated seats, Bluetooth, and Apple Car Play, it’s made only better by the fact that Everrati ensures the conversion is completely reversible.
Hemmels 280SL Electric
Although most electrified classics are upgraded in the pursuit of bettering their performance, Hemmels is one brand that strives to keep things as period-correct as possible. In the case of their 280SL ‘Pagoda’ conversion, this means that the car maintains all of its analog instrumentation, with the chrome dash, leather upholstery, and various trim finishings restored to look factory-fresh. And while it may come with a 160hp motor and an impressive 200-mile range, the experts at Hemmels have actually decreased the drivetrain’s torque output to ensure that the driving experience is on par with the original. We don’t know about you, but it sounds perfect for zipping down the Amalfi Coast with only the sound of wind rushing through your hair.
Voitures Extravert Quintessenza
The 911-based Quintessenza is currently the only model in the Voitures Extravert lineup, though it’s available as either a coupe or a targa, in both 60s-inspired SE and 80s-inspired TE flavors. The build process takes about nine months to complete, during which the donor is stripped to the bare metal, painted with a zinc-protected coating, and reconstructed in its entirety. Along with trading its fuel tank for a 250-mile 59kWh battery, it also gets treated to custom-built adjustable suspension, power steering, aircon, and a state-of-the-art sound system to keep you riding in comfort. At six seconds to 60mph, it’s far from the quickest conversion on our list, but given the motor’s estimated three-million-mile lifetime, it’ll still be driving long after cars have taken to the sky.
Charge Cars Fastback Mustang
If the Mustang Mach-E isn’t pony enough for your particular tastes, Charge’s electrified Fastback should do just the ticket. Based around an officially-licensed shell for an authentic old-school appearance, it eschews the V8 of the original in favor of a dual-motor four-wheel-drive setup and a 64 kWh battery pack. In practice, this makes the modernized Mustang good for a mind-boggling combined 536hp and 1,106lb-ft of torque, rocketing it to 60mph in less than 4.0s flat while still lasting for a respectable 200 miles of driving. Inside, Charge sticks with the retro styling of the car’s exterior, only adding a large touchscreen interface so that the driver can dial in the ride quality. Just 499 of these muscle car masterpieces are being built, so you’ll have to reserve one soon if you want in on it for yourself.
Lunaz Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud
After Lunaz shocked the world with the first-ever electrified Rolls-Royce — a Phantom V — the brand redoubled its efforts and added a Silver Cloud to the mix as well. Like all of the British electrification specialist’s builds, the attention to detail is nothing short of astonishing. For once Lunaz has stripped the Rolls down and removed the internal combustion engine, each component is then weighed and scanned to ensure absolute technical perfection. From there, a team of expert engineers rebuilds the car using top-secret traditional coachbuilding methods for an authentic, original finish, also adding modern-day touches like a fully-integrated infotainment system, climate control, WiFi, and even a personalized bar console for passengers. Powered by an 80kWh battery pack, it’ll carry you in luxurious quiet for some 300 miles.
Totem Automobili Giulia GT
Last but not least we have this beautiful Alfa Romeo electromod from Italian startup Totem Automobili. A tribute to the iconic 1960s Giulia GTA, it’s the product of 6,000 man-hours spread amongst 21 engineers, nine expert craftsmen, and 150 different Italian parts suppliers. Built atop a bespoke steel platform with an integrated roll-bar and some MacPherson struts, the conversion is so complete that it maintains just 10% of the orginal chassis. And to ensure that the Alfa homage packs the power to match its improved suspension, Totem has given it a proprietary electric motor that generates 518hp and 722lb-ft of instantaneous torque. When you consider that it weighs in at just under 2,800lbs in total, the result is a car that takes classic Alfa performance into the 21st century.
In the event you can’t afford the six-figure sums required of the professional conversions listed above, there are also a number of off-the-shelf kits that can be installed with minimal fabrication work. We’ve included two of our favorites to give you an idea of what the market has to offer, but there are countless others should your vehicular needs vary.
EV West Beetle Conversion Kit
For those who want to give their Beetle a battery-powered refresh, you can’t go wrong with this convenient kit from EV West. With the exception of a battery system, it features everything you need to perform the conversion for yourself, including a charger, a programmable controller, as well as an AC motor with regenerative braking and all of the necessary drivetrain adapters. Assuming you happen to have a different air-cooled German icon, EV West also makes kits for Porsches, Karmann Ghias, and Microbuses too.
Electric GT 413 E-Crate System
However, if you’re looking for a more complete electrification platform, an E-Crate System from Electric GT is easily your best bet. The 413 featured here is the flagship offering in the line, built with the same exact footprint as an LS-sized V8, and designed to drop in using OEM mounts. Making 275hp and 405lb-ft of torque, it ships with all of the necessary EV infrastructure in a bench-tested, pre-built format. Oh, and chances are pretty good that it’ll be compatible with your classic — Electric GT engineered the system to work with over 10 million cars from the 60s to the 90s.
The 15 Best Continuation Cars You Can Buy
Although electric classic conversions make for some pretty remarkable builds, we can appreciate the fact that the technology may be a bit difficult to embrace. If you’re looking for modern recreations of older iconic rides, head on over to our guide rounding up the best continuation cars you can buy.