Electromobility: when classic cars are electrified

Electromobility: when classic cars are electrified

Sometimes all hell breaks loose on the 17-Mile-Drive. Every year on the weekend of the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, when the coastal road becomes a boulevard of exotics that shift gears a little later and rev a little higher, they make such a racket that you can barely hear the surf anymore.

Tim Hannig can only laugh mildly about it. He sits at the wheel of an open Jaguar E-Type, is fast and still sees everything from the outside. Because instead of the roar of an old straight-six under the endlessly long hood, all he hears is the hum of an e-machine. After all, the head of the classic car division at Jaguar and Land Rover is not driving an ordinary E-Type, but a prototype of the E-Type Zero, which the British have converted into an electric car.

It's been almost two months now, but the smile on Hannig's face might not have faded yet. Because he wasn't there just to see and be seen. Hannig had potential customers on board and now the first signatures on his books.

The prototype, which Meghan and Harry also used to escape from the Royal Wedding in the summer, will therefore not remain a one-off, but will go into series production at the beginning of 2020 as perhaps the most unusual new car in the world. Old sheet metal, new technology and the manufacturer's seal – that's a combination that hasn't been seen before.

In Germany, VW and Porsche have already been converted

The idea is therefore not new: All over the world there are small-series manufacturers and tinkerers who are playing with the timeline and converting classic cars into electric cars: David Benardo is one of their pioneers. Together with a few specialists from the area, he is converting mainly VW Bullis and Beetles from 1958 to 1966 into electric cars.

Who told him 49.If you pay upwards of $ 000, put your old Volkswagen in the yard and are patient for two to four weeks, you will leave the yard with a 65 kW e-machine and 37 lithium-ion blocks with a total of 22 kWh in the car, which will be enough for 100 miles at best after twelve hours at the socket.

Benardo's focus on vintage VWs is due to two reasons in particular, in addition to his personal soft spot for old Volkswagens: "First of all, these cars have absolute cult status, especially here in southern California," says Benardo.

Even after the diesel scam, people in Newport Beach, La Jolla or Carlsbad would smile when they see a Beetle or a bus. "And secondly, there's hardly any other car that can be converted so easily," says the somewhat aging start-up entrepreneur in his early fifties: "Boxer engine out, e-machine in, twelve batteries under the hood and 25 behind the back seat, fits perfectly.

Even the manual transmission we leave in," says Mr. Zelectric and is glad that he doesn't have to bother with achievements such as power steering, ABS systems or air conditioning: "Where there are no other electronics, we don't have to consider anything and we don't lose any range, because the power is only consumed by the motor."However, the Beetles and Bullis must not be too old, says Benardo, and he keeps his hands off vehicles built before 1958: "Then the cars are simply too valuable to be tampered with. If you drive a classic like this, you leave it in its original condition."

Even a Messerschmitt cab scooter is electrified

There are similar projects in Germany, such as Classic eCars in Hilden. Having already electrified Porsche and VW, the company is now building for prices starting at 50.000 euros for an electric Messerschmitt cabin scooter with a range of up to 350 kilometers.

JLR man Hannig sees his assessment confirmed by such projects: Classic rivet counters and classic car fetishists may turn up their noses in the face of the conversions, but they're not going to be satisfied. But he believes in a target group that is open to such experiments.

On the one hand, there are those who simply want a cool electric car and not the tenth Tesla in their neighborhood. And on the other hand, these are mainly younger Jaguar fans who are enthusiastic about the shapes of the old models, who perhaps even agree with Enzo Ferrari and see the E-Type as the "most beautiful sports car in the world," but who have no desire for maintenance and care and simply want to get in and drive off.

That succeeds with the E-Type Zero all times. Turn the key, set the cruise control to D and put your foot on the slim pedal, and the open sports car whirrs away so fast that the wind tugs at your hair – especially since the head sticks out over the windshield instead of disappearing behind it.

The driving experience is beguiling and disturbing at the same time

The driving performance is almost as impressive as it used to be when the E-Type had to keep cars like the Mercedes SL or the Porsche 911 in check. After all, with 190 kW/258 hp and 450 Newton meters, the E-Type Zero is on the same level as the original six-cylinder, which the Chronicle lists as having a displacement of 3.8 liters, 265 hp and 385 Newton meters.

Although the electric car already drops out at 180 km/h, while the original reached up to 242 km/h, with a sprint time of much less than seven seconds, it accelerates to 100 km/h much faster than the gasoline-powered car did back then. And because the E-Type weighs nothing compared to modern cars and has no annoying auxiliary consumers, it can travel over 300 kilometers with the 40 kWh of the lithium-ion block before it has to be plugged in again for five hours, Hannig promises.

Although the E-Type Zero is as venomous and greedy as the original and, despite the spectacularly staged but also rather heavy technology package under the hood, can still be steered wonderfully light-footedly over the country road, the driving experience is beguiling and disturbing at the same time: Yes, you no longer have to worry about how the engine will finally start on the fourth ignition attempt. You don't have to fight with a stiff gearshift, you don't have to keep the six-cylinder happy with a fine intermediate throttle at the traffic lights and you can finally talk to your co-pilot while driving.

Only wrecks without engine and tuning cars are used

But driving with electricity is not as sensual: Where has it gone, the roar of the engine?? Why does the E-Type smell like a hot toy car after a few miles instead of oil and soot?? And why do you have a carbon cockpit with digital instruments behind a spindly wooden steering wheel, a touchscreen next to it and even an inductive smartphone charger underneath?? And LED headlights may be good for electrical efficiency, but they fit an E-Type as well as a dial on a smartphone. Yesterday, today, tomorrow – if this hot ride on the timeline doesn't make your senses go crazy.

As interested as these new classic car fans are in the E-Type Zero, Classic boss Hannig is well aware of the sensitivities of traditional collectors and has armed himself well against criticism. For one thing, his team is only looking for wrecks without engines for the factory conversions, or tuned cars that have been widely used over the years, especially in the U.S., with American eight-cylinder engines from Corvette Co. in short, cars that would have been lost forever without our help," says Hannig, justifying the supposed sacrilege.

And secondly, he designed the electrification of the icon so that it can be reset at any time. Not only that at the original no sheet metal is cut and no cable is cut – even the gasoline engine stores the British for the owner in a well-padded wooden box. Therefore it takes only further 80 hours, and the time journey into the future is again past.

But then you can't hear a word in the E-Type either: you have to shout at the passenger and the roar of the surf is drowned out by the roar of the engine.