The reinvigoration of classic cars through restoration has frankly exploded over the years through the rise of companies like Singer and Icon. Whether you love Porsche 911s, vintage Minis, classic Range Rovers or something completely different, there’s probably a store that can breathe new life into it. But while not every homeowner wants a Singer-style build, there is one that people are increasingly asking for. And it gives classic cars electric conversions.
British company Lunaz is at the center of a booming market for electric conversions of classic cars
Last year, British football – sorry football star David Beckham made waves when he decided to invest in a car shop. But not just any car store: Lunaz, specializing in electric conversions for old cars. At the time, he had already traded in a Jaguar XK120, several Aston Martins and a vintage Rolls-Royce. And he was just rolling out his classic Bentley Continental projects.
Considering the Continental build starts at $476,000, you can imagine the Lunaz customer base is pretty rarefied and/or limited. But this is not the case. To quote Forbes“The business of restoring British classic cars and replacing their engines with electric motors is booming.”
Quite simply, Lunaz can’t perform electric conversions on classic cars fast enough. The store is full for 2022 and 2023 even after a 500% increase in the workforce (to 120 employees). And it comes after Lunaz increased its annual production by 50% to 110 vehicles and expanded its facilities by 400%.
The Lunaz business boom is just one sign of the rapid rise in vintage electric vehicle trade, however. Several automakers have launched unique electric restoration projects, including Nissan and Hyundai. Jaguar and Mini both offer in-house electric conversions for classic car owners. And after showing off the F-100 Eluminator concept, Ford made its powertrain available as a crate engine. But you can’t get one as of this writing because it’s also sold out.
Why are so many people interested in electric conversions of classic cars right now?
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In short, EV swaps for classic cars are having a moment right now. And there are several potential reasons for this.
For one thing, like gas-powered restomods, these electric classics deliver modern performance and everyday drivability. They still have a vintage style, but they now feature high-quality materials and technologies like air conditioning, heated seats and even infotainment. Plus, while some older cars are surprisingly fast, giving them EV drivetrains lets them do more than keep up with traffic.
However, unlike ICE restomods, these electric conversions have no tailpipe emissions. This allows owners to keep their classic cars alive without significant environmental guilt. It’s something that many Lunaz customers, who are younger than “the typical luxury car [buyers],” to look for, Forbes said. And for the truly eco-conscious, the UK shop is very active in recycling, offering rugs made from recycled fishing nets and 100% recycled interior fabrics.
In addition, EV transmissions are easier to maintain than older engines. Although they are maintenance free, they do not require carburetor cleaning, valve adjustment, new belts, frequent oil changes, etc. This means owners can actually use their classic cars as cars rather than locking them up in air-conditioned garages. And in the process, they might turn some EV naysayers into converts.
How much do these conversions cost?
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As previously stated, Lunaz electric conversions don’t come cheap. Even its cheapest build, the Range Rover, starts at around $395,000, Forbes reports. Certainly, there are cheaper EV swaps. But even something “simple” like a Zelectric Beetle usually costs around $50,000.
However, as is the case with electric car batteries, these classic conversions could become less expensive in the future. As more crate motors become available, parts costs should come down. Also keep in mind that, generally speaking, a “classic car” is a vehicle over 25 years old. Restoring a 1960s Beetle probably takes more time and money than, say, an early 90s Mercedes.
To some, the idea of replacing a Porsche flat-six or stock GM V8 with an electric motor sounds like sacrilege. But that doesn’t stop people like Lunaz from going straight ahead.
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