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Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/1/7 19:30
From Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 2122
Read this in the Wall Street Journal, anyone else see it?
https://www.wsj.com/articles/electric- ... -11600282781?&mod=djemfoe

TECH GEAR & GADGETS
Electric Engines Give Classic Cars a Recharge
EV modifications and interior-tech overhauls are breathing new life into iconic autos that have struggled to stay road-worthy

ELECTRIC AVENUE 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V customized by Lunaz Design in Silverstone, U.K.
PHOTO: LUNAZ
By Patrick George
Updated Sept. 16, 2020 3:30 pm ET
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MOST CLASSIC car aficionados would say that David Lorenz is raising his daughter, Luna, the right way.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

If you are a classic car owner, what are the challenges of converting to an electric engine? Join the conversation below.

Mr. Lorenz strapped her car seat into the back of his 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL when she was just 3 months old. Now at age 2, she can name many cars she sees in parking lots. He dreamed of passing the SL on to her someday. But when it broke down during one drive, as old cars are wont to do, Mr. Lorenz came to a difficult realization.

EV-conversions gain performance well beyond their original specs and a greater reliability due to far fewer moving parts.
“Luna’s not actually going to want this,” Mr. Lorenz said. Their native London is banning gas and diesel cars in certain areas. Britain will outlaw sales of new internal combustion cars by 2035. General Motors, Volkswagen and other automakers plan to go fully electric.

Whether enthusiasts want to admit it or not, the end of the traditional engine is in sight. And Mr. Lorenz feared classic car ownership may die with it.


1968 Porsche 911 customized by Zelectric Motors in San Diego
PHOTO: ZELECTRIC
A certain wedding changed his perspective. After watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drive away from their 2018 Windsor Castle ceremony in a Jaguar E-Type that had been converted into an electric vehicle, Mr. Lorenz launched Lunaz Design. Based in Silverstone, their outfit restores vintage British luxury cars and swaps their engines for a battery and a motor.

It has joined the swelling worldwide ranks of EV-conversion shops, businesses that hope to preserve classic car driving, and not just collecting, for the long haul.

In addition to not burning fuel, EV-converted classic cars gain performance well beyond their original specs and, because they have far fewer moving parts, greater reliability. EV drivetrains are much simpler than IC engines. And as the world grapples with climate change, EV conversion is an increasingly popular option for vintage cars, with many shops putting their distinctive spin on the process.

Lunaz Design crafts restored, electric versions of cars like the Jaguar XK120 and 1950s Bentley Continentals. In late August, it announced an expansion into the Rolls-Royce Phantom V line. Cutting-edge technology and intensive restorations don’t come cheap, especially when paired. A modified Jaguar starts at about $455,000; a Phantom commands around $650,000 and up.

Lunaz fully strips its donor cars down and sends them off to a body shop for bare-metal restoration. His team replaces the suspension and braking parts and installs a new electric chassis. Buyers can fully customize their interior colors and materials, often keeping strange quirks unique to the vehicle’s history, like one Phantom with bespoke blue sun visors that clashed with the rest of the interior, Mr. Lorenz said.


1953 Jaguar XK120 and 1960 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur customized by Lunaz Design
PHOTO: LUNAZ
“I really thought the electric car space was lacking true luxury,” Mr. Lorenz said, by which he means old-world European luxury: cars that convey an air of stratospheric wealth and unparalleled refinement.

The real star of the transformation is the electric powertrain, which is developed entirely in-house, unlike at other EV conversion companies. To do this, Lunaz Design secured talent from across the industry, including Jon Hilton, former technical chief of Renault F1 and an engineer who helped bring hybrid power to Le Mans racing. Other team members came from brands like McLaren and Cosworth. The cars can achieve 250 to 300 miles of range depending on the battery and setup, on par with any Tesla, and are capable of home charging and rapid public charging.

What happens when a classic car loses a gasoline engine? Mr. Lorenz said his goal is to preserve the old-school feel but build his machines with vastly more-potent acceleration. The Rolls-Royces run more silently than ever. “Henry Royce, if he could have, would’ve built electric Rolls-Royces,” Mr. Lorenz said.


1964 Corvette Stingray Convertible customized by EV West in San Marcos, Calif.
PHOTO: EV WEST
In America, California leads the charge for EV conversions. As green as the state is, it’s also the birthplace of the hot rod, so it’s a natural fit for conversion pioneers.

EV West, in San Marcos, Calif., has been responsible for a number of noteworthy EV projects, like an electric streamliner that recently set a speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.


Founder Michael Bream said modern EV swaps were initially driven by the high gas prices of the 2000s, but his shop wanted to focus on performance. Tesla’s reputation for neck-snapping 0-60 mph times helped change the conversation, too. Today, buyers are after speed, reliability and ease of use. Owners get the look and feel of daily driving a classic, without having to scavenge for rare parts or perform delicate valve adjustments.

A starter EV West conversion, Mr. Bream said, runs about $20,000. His company’s popularity has grown exponentially, and his calendar is now booked for the next few years. Much of its business today is supplying parts so other shops can do such work. “We became that super-good restaurant,” Mr. Bream said. “People call up for a reservation and we say, ‘How’s 2025 looking for you?’”


Zelectric’s EV Microbus mods are powered by Tesla parts.
PHOTO: ZELECTRIC
David Benardo, CEO of Zelectric Motors, a San Diego company that converts classic Volkswagens and early Porsches, is also working hard to meet demand. “We have 2021 deposits in hand already for double the number of cars of 2020,” he said.

Zelectric’s modified Beetles, Microbuses and Porsche 356s use refurbished Tesla components to achieve between 100 to 180 miles of range. Mr. Benardo said his swaps start at around $70,000, and buying a modified, “turnkey car” can go for much more. Most of his clients are new to classic car ownership, he said, and more than half are women.


Mr. Bream said his goal is to make driving “guilt-free,” to allow drivers today and tomorrow the ability to go flat out through a chicane without feeling bad because their vintage car was belching smog.

“In my drive home from work, at the end of the day, when I’m just beaten down…I have this one little bit of joy,” he said of taking a drive in his 190SL. “I didn’t want that to be taken away from me.”

All three shop owners described their work as future-proofing: making sure classic cars can be driven and enjoyed after the fossil fuel era is over. “I want to see them on the road 60 years from now,” Mr. Lorenz said. Perhaps Luna has a shot at that ’57 Mercedes after all—just without the gasoline.

POWER PLAYERS / A peak under the hood of two classic EV swaps

PHOTO: LUNAZ
Rolls-Royce Phantom V

Lunaz Design in Silverstone, U.K.

Model Year 1961

Price From about $650,000

Drivetrain 120 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, single proprietary electric motor, rear-wheel drive

Power/Torque 375 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque

Electric Range 300 miles

Charging Home and public fast charging; from 20 to 80 percent in 30 minutes

Modern updates Infotainment system, WiFi, navigation, climate control


PHOTO: ZELECTRIC
Volkswagen Beetle Ragtop Conversion

Zelectric Motors in San Diego

Model Year 1960

Price From $68,000 for base conversion costs

Drivetrain 27 kWh lithium-ion battery, 3-Phase 65KW AC Motor, rear-wheel drive

Power/Torque 102 horsepower, 100 pound-feet of torque

Electric Range 100-180 miles

Charging 3 hours to full on a 220v Level-2 charger

Modern updates Regen braking, LED headlamps, digital power gauge

Posted on: 9/18 11:35:09
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
Just popping in
Joined:
2014/1/28 19:12
From Bastrop, texas
Posts: 2
No thanks.. I do not see the sense in butchering a classic car and turning it into a battery operated toy. Those jumping on the electric car bandwagon forget that electricity isn't entirely produced by "green" methods.

Converting or using electric cars just shifts the pollution burden further upstream. Sure, the consumer feels all warm and fuzzy because they think that they are doing a "great thing" for the environment, and no doubt win major brownie points from their eco minded friends, but in reality, they are actually creating more problems than they are solving.

Lithium mining is a dirty, environment damaging business, and the worst thing is, it's not feasible (profitable) to recycle those lithium batteries once they are spent. The same can be said for nuclear power plants. Sure, they produce lots of energy, but the waste byproduct is something that creates greater problems.

Wind energy sounds great, but is very expensive, and those windmill blades all wind up being buried because they cannot be recycled.

Solar has it's limitations, as panels don't last forever, and we cannot solely rely on it to power everything.

Also, consider something else.. All the plastics that are required to build a new vehicle. We'd like to think that those are recycled upon a the end of a vehicles useful life, but sadly, they aren't... And neither are most of the plastics many of us dutifully place into our recycling containers each week.

My advice, drive your cars, maintain them, and keep them running their best. Installing an electric engine in a vehicle, just so you can "pass it onto your children" is silly. Electric engines also have a life span, so that child is going to have to deal with their "inheritance" breaking down sooner or later.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted on: 9/18 12:53:49
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2008/10/27 6:47
From Ellensburg, WA
Posts: 311
I think most of the allure of an old car is the engine and mechanical portions of it. I personally don't enjoy seeing a classic or antique with a modern Vette engine in it. Can't imagine popping the hood and seeing nothing but electronics.

The sound and the smell of an old engine is part of the experience for me.

Posted on: 9/18 13:45:04
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2014/7/15 11:30
From Terrebonne, OR
Posts: 2137
Electric engine is an oxymoron just as it is to call an engine a motor. At the most basic definition, an engine is internally powered while a motor is externally powered and the two words are not supposed to be interchangeable but have come to be through misuse. Calling an engine a motor is one thing, though, but calling an electric motor an engine is ridiculous!

Posted on: 9/18 14:48:33
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2015/1/16 9:43
From sw, pa
Posts: 1282
Is a steam engine or a steam motor?? I'd convert to running an engine on alcohol before going electric.

Posted on: 9/19 6:38:17
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2007/11/18 9:02
From Dalton, NY
Posts: 2427
Certainly seems like going to a lot of trouble and massive expense to convert an old car that would drive and function just as it was built with a proper restoration and maintenance. I suppose its done to impress others...and demonstrate how well-off one is...

Steve

Posted on: 9/19 9:04:48
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Proud 1953 Clipper Deluxe owner.
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2008/2/16 15:39
From Santa Fe
Posts: 5482
Don agree with you about technical definition of motors and engines, but what do you think was the reasoning behind Packard Motor Car Company, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and others?

Posted on: 9/19 9:53:36
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37 Six (115C) Convertible Coupe (1089) - Now in Belgium
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We move toward and make happen what occupies our mind. (W. Scherer)
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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From Terrebonne, OR
Posts: 2137
As I said, the two by definition are different but have been misused so long that it’s taken over. As for steam, I’ve often wondered about that too.

Posted on: 9/19 9:55:33
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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Joined:
2008/2/16 15:39
From Santa Fe
Posts: 5482
Yes, I agree, but those automobile manufactures got their names over a century ago. I still how the names came about.

Posted on: 9/19 9:59:10
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Packards Owned -
37 Six (115C) Convertible Coupe (1089) - Now in Belgium
47 Clipper Custom Super Touring Sedan (2122) - Now in Virginia
55 Cipper Super Sedan (5542) - Now in Maryland

We move toward and make happen what occupies our mind. (W. Scherer)
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Re: Electric engines give classic cars a recharge
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2014/4/7 14:37
From Dallas, TX
Posts: 119
I'll play the devil's advocate side then.

My wife has a 1967 Triumph GT6. Thoroughly rebuilt, carbs rebuilt, engine rebuilt, heads converted to run on unleaded gas. It's had two electric fuel pumps and two rebuilt mechanical fuel pumps. It's spent three months with a specialist that has multiple published articles restoring British cars.

On any given day, it might start, and if it does, it might drive okay, and if it does, it might die when it comes to a stop, or when you turn the key off, and it might or might not start up until the engine has cooled for a few hours.

It's a beautiful car, and always gets comments. By anyone who's lucky enough to see it. She doesn't want to drive it because she'll get stranded about 80% of the time, if she drives farther than the end of the street. If she DOES stay on the street, she'll STILL get stranded about 25% of the time. When she DOES want to drive it, I sometimes ask her NOT to, because I'm busy with something and don't have time to go rescue the car and limp it home if it DOES break down.

For the last 5 years though, the main car for us was a Chevy Volt and then a Tesla Model S. The speed is incredible, the fuel savings is wonderful, you get in and it goes, effortlessly. The Triumph, a tiny car with a 2.0L engine gets about 12 mpg. The Tesla, which weighs about 4x as much, gets the equivalent of 100mpg (assuming fuel is $2.00 a gallon. As fuel prices go up, the equivalent mpg goes up as well.) And you know, it always works. There are 3 moving parts in the drivetrain. I've never had to wait to fill it up in the heat or cold, it's always full when I get in it to go somewhere.

Imagine that you had all the style of a classic car, and it effortlessly just went wherever you wanted to go. Just unplug, hop in and turn the key?

That's one reason I'm converting a 1955 GMC Pickup to electric right now. From all appearances, it'll be a normal pickup. Just with some equipment behind the seat where the fueltank would be, and a 130hp AC motor under the hood instead of the 110 hp cast iron 6 cylinder. The whole conversion so far is cheaper than converting to a Chevy v8 crate motor.

I love old cars, but finding parts that ACTUALLY WORK is harder and harder, finding people who know how to fix them is harder and harder, and when I have the rare time to go enjoy them, I want to enjoy them, not wonder why it's not starting THIS time, or having to pump all the gas out because it's been a year since I moved it last time.

After living with a Tesla for years, I'll never go back to gas for a regular car. I enjoy the mechanical engineering of the old cars, and it's not like I'll just junk the old motors. Restore it to perfect running order, maybe even set it up to run on a test stand to show it off. But imagine if you could just jump into a car that's a century old, and drive it effortlessly to the grocery store.

Posted on: 11/13 9:56:08
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