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(Bloomberg) – When it comes to driving, Dan Henry has a paradox to navigate. He’s a climate-conscious, time-starved tech executive, and yet he loves old cars, especially the 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II. The solution: Retrofit the vehicle, to remove the oily casings and replace them. by a battery.

The problem

Electrifying an old vehicle is complex and expensive. More than sixty years ago, car designers didn’t think about where to put a huge battery. Moment Motor Co., an Austin boutique, converted four of Henry’s cars. The crew starts by taking a 3D scan of the engine bay, the transmission tunnel (essentially, the car’s plumbing) and the trunk. Then the data is loaded into a CAD model to determine where to install the power supply (as is most often the case, multiple small batteries are used).

Customization sometimes involves reworking the brakes and suspension to handle the heavier equipment that will be fitted.

why it’s tricky

There aren’t many stores like Moment, for good reason. Modifying a decades-old vehicle to run on electricity – a so-called electromod – requires a whole lot of esoteric skill, amounting to a mashup of a machinist, an electrician and a software developer.

“Most professional mechanics can’t take the leap,” says Moment founder Marc Davis, who recruits widely from tech companies and custom hot rod shops. “We need people who can’t just turn a key, but break a laptop.”

Challenges

The classic car market is booming. A record 36,254 vintage vehicles sold at auction in the United States last year, worth a combined $2.2 billion, as stock market wealth and pandemic itch combined with nostalgia for driving, according to insurer Hagerty Inc. as Craigslist is estimated at 10 times that figure.

why there is hope

Enthusiasts have been electrifying classic cars for decades, but recent advances in batteries and motors have expanded the market. Assembling the parts of an electric vehicle is now a simple shopping exercise, and many people are buying these cars just to make them greener.

©2022 Bloomberg LP

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