A 1966 classic with a 2020 electric drivetrain.
Volkswagen is about to release a new lineup of electric, ID-branded models, starting with a crossover that's set to be revealed later this year. The Volkswagen ID.4 will essentially be a taller version of the European ID.3 hatchback, using the same rear-mounted electric motor that can fit in a duffel bag producing 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque. In addition to being used in new models, the compact size of VW's electric motor makes it perfect for a restomod in a classic car.
After transplanting an electric motor into a 1972 Type 2 Kombi VW has now created an even cooler electric vehicle. This one is based on a 1966 T1 Samba Bus, which has been comprehensively restored. Volkswagen Commerical Vehicles calls it the e-BULLI Concept but says it is not just a one-off. A company called eClassics will actually offer complete vehicles in the e-BULLI style.
To create the e-BULLI, the 43 horsepower four-cylinder boxer engine was ditched in favor of an electric motor producing 80 hp. This may not sound like much but if you've ever driven a Samba Bus, you know it doesn't need too much power. Double the original output is plenty and with 156 lb-ft of torque now on tap, the e-BULLI should have more than enough oomph.
The manual transmission has been replaced by a one-speed gearbox with a modern gear lever that sits between the front seats. It features P, R, N, D, and B, the latter position allowing for various levels of energy recuperation while braking. With this new electric drivetrain, VW says the e-BULLI can hit a top speed of around 81 mph (an increase from the original 65 mph top speed). The battery can be charged by up to 80 percent in just 40 minutes and the bus can travel around 120 miles on a full charge.
Underneath, the e-BULLI handles better thanks to multi-link front and rear axles with adjustable shock absorbers, coilover struts, a new rack-and-pinion steering system, and ventilated disc brakes. The exterior has been kept mostly original with a jazzy 'Energetic Orange Metallic' and 'Golden Sand Metallic' two-tone paint job. LED headlights and retro-themed modern wheels let onlookers know this isn't a stock Samba Bus.
Inside, the cabin has been modernized with orange and white leather, a new center console, solid wood flooring, a new speedometer, and a ceiling-mounted touchscreen tablet. Music is still controlled via an authentic-looking retro-style radio, which now features modern sources such as Bluetooth and USB. If you'd like to buy an e-BULLI T1 from eClassics, prices start at 64,900 euros (around $69,559). T2 and T3 conversions are also available. VW is also working on a modern replacement for the Samba called the ID.BUZZ, but this looks like an excellent alternative.