The cream of the electrified classic crop.
There are a few guaranteed ways of generating cries of "Sacrilege!" from car enthusiasts. You could, for example, swap an engine from one brand into another like, say, a Dodge Hellcat V8 into a Ford Mustang. That's not practical and, as far as we know, nobody has done that. What people have done, though, is the next best thing and taken legendary classic cars into their workshop to give them electric drivetrains. Once you get over the initial cringe factor, it can make a lot of sense. Crazy power can be unlocked for less expense than re-engineering a chassis for an engine and transmission it wasn't designed for. If done right, a problematic aged car can become a reliable daily driver. And since electric vehicles have started to become realistic again, there have been some interesting and wild electric conversions. These are our favorites.
We grabbed our camera at the end of 2021 and headed over to Orange County in California to the US home of Superformance to drive something special. The company is famed for its Shelby Cobra continuation models but has been cooking up something crazy for a while. The current iteration of the electric Cobra generates around 1,000 lb-ft of torque and has no traction control. It's an absolute handful to drive in any way that isn't with a featherweight of a right foot, and only a lunatic would try and push it on a back road - you can light up the drag radials fitted to it when already at freeway speeds. Accidently. Still. It looks stunning and has the same gnarly temperament as the original, making it a winner in our eyes.
The original Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Junior made around 190 horsepower in the 1970s but after Totem's treatment of one of the most desirable classics of its era, the GT makes over 500 hp. In reality, only around 10 percent of the original chassis remains, and a new suspension system is fitted along with a new subframe. There's no way a stock Giulia GT from back in the day could handle that kind of power. Totem says it will touch 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, and its 50.4kWh is good for 224 miles if you don't keep hammering it to 62 mph. You would, though, wouldn't you?
We are big fans of ECD Automotive Design's restomod Land Rover models. Typically, you'll find the Florida shop's Range Rovers are fitted with modern American V8s, but this 1992 Range Rover Classic we took for a spin is powered by batteries and an electric motor from a Tesla. Unlike any Tesla model, the ECD Range Rover Classic uses a mechanical transfer case with a limited-slip differential to move power to all four wheels. Like Tesla models, though, the ECD Range Rover Classic features regenerative braking. It gets to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and has a range of 220 miles from a 100kWh battery, although we believe that's conservative. Land Rover will surely launch a fully electric Range Rover, but if you want some classic character, this is the way to go.
Chevrolet has been diligently working on electric vehicles for some time now and is thinking ahead. Like other automakers, Chevy offers crate engines for sale - as in new engines packaged and ready to be dropped into a project or race car. Now, though, Chevy is working on electric drivetrain crate packages. To show off the concept, the brand restomodded a 1977 K5 Blazer. Out came the 6.6-liter V8 engine and three-speed automatic transmission and in went a 200-hp and 266-lb-ft electric motor from a Chevrolet Bolt EV. That doesn't sound like much power for a truck that came with a 6.6-liter V8, but in the late 1970s that engine was over 30 hp away from 200. We think they could've named it better, something like Chev-E K5, but the concept is still cool as heck.
Jaguar Land Rover's Classic division does amazing work, and it knew plenty of people wouldn't like the idea of an all-electric E-Type. Still, a skunkworks team went to work and made sure the project was reversible. The team avoided cutting up the chassis to fit battery modules from the Range Rover PHEV and inverters from the I-Pace. The battery module, motor, and reduction gearbox fit into the space left by the engine and transmission, and off it goes. The E-Type Zero has less horsepower than the original 250-ish but way more torque. According to people in the UK that have driven it, the 332 lb-ft of torque gives the E-Type Zero a solid shove off the line while the rest of the driving experience is eerily the same as a classic E-Type. A plan was hatched to put the E-Type Zero into production and offer a conversion for existing E-Type owners, but it was halted in 2019 and hasn't surfaced again yet.
Icon is famed for its level of engineering and style when it comes to retro mods, and the Electric Mercury Coupe is no different - the patina is camouflage for what's underneath. The Mercury Eight Coupe was so named because of its eight-cylinder engine; hence the number has been dropped from Icon's reworking as an electric rat rod. The suspension is fully reworked to the point the Electric Mercury Coupe has independent rear suspension and disc brakes all-round, but the twin-motor drivetrain is the highlight. It's pulled from a Tesla Model S and even includes the charging port. The batteries are arranged in a V under the hood for added style or for the troll. We're not convinced there's not a little trolling going on here.
A 1961 Bentley Continental Flying Spur by HJ Mulliner is a rare thing of eye-watering beauty. UK-based Lunaz has been upsetting purists with its EV restomods for a while now, but this is our favorite from the EV specialists so far. The company offers the conversion for the S1, S2, and S3 (1955-1965) in two-door or four-door configurations and Bentley's Drophead Coupe. The first electric Continental Flying Spur started as a collector's piece costing around $180,000. You wouldn't slap a drivetrain from a scrapped Tesla that had autonomously driven into a truck into a piece of rolling art like that, and Lunaz doesn't either. Its drivetrains are developed in-house, and this model includes an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack split front and back for weight distribution. The Lunaz Bentley Continental Flying Spur even has regenerative braking, cruise control, and a range of 250 miles. If you want one, though, you're going to be paying around $400,000.
California-based Zero Labs builds an insane Bronco. To kick off the electric Bronco project, the company rescues 1966-1977 era models for prototypes and goes to town on them. As well as an electric drivetrain making 300-600 hp depending on the chosen specification, the Zero Labs Bronco also gets a bespoke rebuild that includes replica panels in carbon fiber, a luxury interior with ornate billet details, FOX Racing shocks, and Currie differentials. However, horrified traditionalists can take some solace as the Zero Labs Bronco here also features a five-speed manual transmission, a two-speed transfer case, and solid Dana axles.