Wayne’s Electron Garage, currently the only one of its kind in Scotland, is converting classic vehicles to electric vehicles. The Herald Scotland has shared Wayne’s story and one of his current conversions, a shiny black Morris Minor with a chrome bumper and gleaming wing mirrors. The article noted that it glided along very silently.
While it’s a classic car on the outside, the Morris Minor has been electrified completely on the inside. Wayne also increased the vehicle’s top speed from 40 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour.
Wayne removed the engine, fuel tank, and other original components and replaced them with an electric engine and 24 kW battery packs from a Nissan Leaf that was written off by insurers following an accident. Not only is this a useful revival of a classic car, but it is also reusing older EV batteries, which is doubly great for the environment. Wayne noted that although the range is only around 70 miles, this is enough for a city car.
Another vehicle that Wayne and his son, Euan, are currently working on is a 1960 T2 VW Campervan. He told Herald Scotland that it would be fitted with a 75kW Tesla battery pack and a Tesla drive unit. This will give the classic car a range of up to 250 miles and transform it from the gas guzzler it was into an emissions-free electric vehicle.
Although some fans of classic cars consider converting them to electric is sacrilege, there’s an increasing number who are for exchanging the unreliability of an old internal combustion engine (ICE) with a new, environmentally friendly one.
Wayne agreed that not everyone is a fan of tinkering with classic cars, but electrifying them would lead to more of these vehicles being seen on the roads. “There are two camps out there,” Wayne said. “One says we shouldn’t do this to a classic vehicle — and there are some cars we would not want to touch.”
“But there are also a lot of classic cars sitting in garages and barns that don’t turn a wheel from year to year because they are difficult cars to live with.
“With a lot of older cars, you need a toolkit with you whenever you go for a drive. They break down and you’re left at the side of the road.
“Electrifying it gives it a new lease of life and helps it keep going for another 20 or 30 years. You can drive it without worrying about it getting you to where you want to go.”
Governments around the world are tightening restrictions on diesel and gas vehicles. Many owners are reconsidering how they power their classic cars in the future as a result of these restrictions as well as the idea of low emission zones in some city centers. The mix of eco-conscious Millennials with a passion for retro design and older “petrolheads” who want to revisit the cars of their younger days is one that will help push forward the electrification of classic cars. As the article noted, it’s fueling this trend.
No Demand For Electric Classic Cars?
Herald Scotland also interviewed Alan Potts, who specializes in selling classic cars for enthusiasts at Car Cave Scotland. He pointed out that business is booming. He believes that only a few would want to exchange the roar of a classic engine for the soft whirr of an electric motor.
“The general consensus of opinion among classic car guys is that you’d be ruining your classic car,” said Potts. “If you have a Morris Minor or an MG Mgb Gt that’s worth maybe £5,000 to £10,000 and you then convert it, you’ll affect the value of the car a little, but not massively. But convert an E-type Jaguar to electric and you’ll really affect the value of the car. And with some old cars like, say, an Aston Martin, the noise they make is everything,” he added. “To switch on the engine and all of a sudden there’s a whizzing noise … it kicks the guts out of the car a little bit.”
Potts noted that demand for retro gas classics is booming, especially the old favorites from the 1970s and ’80s. These, he imports from South Africa. “There is massive demand,” he explained. “We shift about 20 classic Fords every month; if we had more of certain models, we’d shift even more.”
In the interview, Wayne pointed out that there have been inquiries for converted classics including the VW Camper Van as well as for an old Land Rover to be converted. He noted that people have been customizing cars for years and that customizing classics is nothing different.
“I think interest in converting classic cars to electric will grow as people become more aware of what can be done,” he said.