The New Hot Rods Are Souped-Up Vintage Cars With Electric Motors
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  1. #1
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    Default The New Hot Rods Are Souped-Up Vintage Cars With Electric Motors

    The New Hot Rods Are Souped-Up Vintage Cars With Electric Motors
    2019-01-10 05:05:20.659 GMT

    By Jason Clenfield and Chisaki Watanabe
    (Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Osamu Furukawa’s garage is full
    of gorgeous electric cars, but none of them is a Tesla. There’s
    a yellow 1977 Volkswagen Beetle alongside a rare three-wheeled
    Messerschmitt from the 1950s in cherry red, and both are in
    buttery-smooth working order. The bodies may be antique, but
    their engines have been replaced with electric motors and
    batteries. “This is about how fun a car can be,” says the 47-
    year-old mechanic.
    Furukawa’s shop on the outskirts of Tokyo, Oz Motors, is
    one of a dozen or so boutique garages around the world that
    specialize in “EV conversions,” the process of turning an
    automobile with a combustion engine into one powered by
    electricity. They’ve sprung up from London to Southern
    California, all catering to a growing number of car fanatics who
    enjoy classics but want more power, reliability, and fuel
    “The guys who come into our shop tend to be forward-
    thinking, progressive,” says Michael Bream, proprietor of EV
    West, a garage near San Diego whose clients include tech
    executives and Hollywood types. “They’re looking for a way to
    differentiate themselves in a car that has some history.”
    Electric-car conversions have been around since the ’60s,
    when hippies and engineering geeks began trying to power old
    cars with stacks of golf-cart batteries, using generators
    salvaged from airplanes as motors. During the oil crisis of
    1979, Michael Brown founded Electro Automotive near Santa Cruz,
    Calif., with his wife and business partner, Shari Prange, and
    went on to sell thousands of do-it-yourself conversion kits.
    They had a bumper sticker that said: “GM can’t build this car,
    but you can.”
    In those early days, concerns for the environment were the
    main motivation. Now it’s largely about style and speed. “Every
    single conversion that we do ends up having more power than the
    original,” says Richard Morgan, owner of Electric Classic Cars
    in Newton, Wales. “These aren’t slow milk floats that are
    boring,” he says, referring to the battery-powered trucks that
    delivered milk across the U.K. “These things kick ass.”
    Ever since he was a teenager in the ’80s, Morgan says, he
    loved driving, racing, and customizing cars that were older than
    he was. But the older the cars got, the more problem-prone they
    were. Replacing their complex, cranky engines with electric
    motors, which have few moving parts, was a way to make them
    easier to maintain—and speedier.
    A ’73 VW Bug that Morgan converted, for example, went from
    40 horsepower to 400 hp, he says. And because electric motors
    deliver their power instantaneously—like flicking on a light
    switch—the acceleration pins you to the seat. Even some classic-
    car purists who first saw conversions as sacrilege have been
    convinced. “I used to be the biggest petrol-head you could
    find,” says Tim Madeley, one of Morgan’s buddies. “But I’ve come


    After just three years in business, advertising mostly on
    Instagram and Facebook, Morgan now sees orders to his small-town
    shop coming from all over the world. Last summer, he and his
    team of three mechanics sent five custom-built stunt buggies,
    each costing about $30,000, to a buyer in China. “It just
    snowballed,” Morgan says. “Every time we have one car leaving
    the shop we’ve got another three coming in.”
    Converting an ’80s Porsche into a battery-powered sports
    car was how Tesla Inc. co-founder JB Straubel got his start, but
    the craft can be learned by nongeniuses, too. A website called
    EV Photo Album has thousands of posts from hobbyists who’ve made
    electric vehicles out of unlikely prospects, whether a Toyota
    Celica or a 48-quart Coleman beer cooler. (The latter looks
    vaguely like a lunar lander, with a red and white plastic body
    mounted over four knobby wheels.)
    Matthew Quitter, a former composer who in 2017 opened a
    garage in London, says he taught himself how to do conversion
    work by watching YouTube videos and studying sites such as DIY
    Electric Car and the cheekily named Electric Cars Are for Girls.
    Quitter’s one-man shop, London Electric Cars, specializes in
    refitting a British sedan that had its heyday in the 1960s
    called the Morris Minor—a vehicle beloved by the English for its
    fuddy-duddy, end-of-empire awfulness. “Lots of people grew up
    with their parents having these cars,” he says. “There’s a real
    nostalgia for them.”

    At EV West, Bream is cranking out more exotic vehicles.
    Last year he helped build the world’s first electric Ferrari, a
    ’78 308 GTS that sold at auction for $80,000. There’s an ’85
    DeLorean in the shop now, as well as a ’96 BMW M3, a ’68 Porsche
    911, and actor Ewan McGregor’s ’54 VW Beetle. These are no
    Morris Minors.
    The big thing these days, Bream says, is taking Tesla
    drivetrains and putting them into beautiful older cars that are
    smaller. He says there’s a robust secondary market for Tesla
    batteries as well as those from LG Chem, which makes the
    electric motors used in the Chevy Volt and Hyundai Kona.
    Think of it as a modern version of old-style hot-rodding,
    using a power source designed for a heavy sedan to propel
    something much lighter. The mismatch makes for serious speed. “I
    have a motor where you can be going 100 miles an hour down the
    freeway, but you blip the throttle and it will still smoke the
    tires,” Bream says.
    That may sound a little intimidating, but Bream says added
    horsepower makes his refitted electrics, if anything, safer than
    the originals—being able to really accelerate can be handy when
    an SUV behemoth is bearing down on you.

    One of his clients is Chris Sakanai, a programmer for the
    Call of Duty video game franchise. He considered buying a Tesla,
    but instead opted for a hands-on project. After a six-month
    search, Sakanai found a ’51 Chevy pickup with a carefully
    restored red body—and almost everything else wrong with it.
    Cost: $20,000. Since the truck’s innards would be torn out
    anyway, it didn’t matter that the engine and transmission were
    shot and oil leaked everywhere.
    After an additional $40,000 spent on parts and labor—and
    six months of work at Bream’s side—Sakanai’s dream machine is a
    hassle-free antique with 48 kilowatt hours’ worth of Tesla
    batteries under its rear bed and a 150-mile range. From a
    stoplight, it jumps off the line.
    “I get tons of reactions,” Sakanai says. “People are
    expecting this big, rumbling V-8 that you hear from a mile away,
    but when I start it up and it’s completely quiet, they’re like,
    ‘Whoa, hold up. What’s going on under the hood?’ ”Four Shops to
    Get You Converted
    Mechanics around the world are resurrecting old cars with
    new tech. But as with most renovations, the time and cost depend
    on what you want.
    Richard Morgan’s garage in Newton, Wales, won acclaim for its
    electric ’79 Porsche 911 Targa, which made its debut in 2017. It
    specializes in classics from the ’50s to the ’80s.
    Time:This BMW E9 (above) took about a year, but some cars can be
    done in two months.
    Cost:A small vehicle with a 15-kilowatt-hour battery, such as a
    Fiat 500, is about £12,000 ($15,300). A Range Rover 4x4 with an
    80kWh battery can cost £55,000.
    Operated in Yokohama, Japan, by Osamu Furukawa, the shop has
    performed conversions on VW Beetles, a 1958 Messerschmitt, and
    even a Toyota Prius.
    Time: A Beetle takes one to two months to retrofit.
    Cost: Prices have included $24,400 for a 1976 Bug and $27,200
    for a 1973 model. Each car has a 12kWh battery that can be
    upgraded to up to 24kWh.
    Founded in 2010, Michael Bream’s shop near San Diego specializes
    in vintage race cars and classics such as this ’51 Chevy pickup.
    The shop converts about one vehicle a month.
    Time: Four to six months on average, but in the best-case
    scenario, a car can be refitted in about 30 days.
    Cost: On the top end, parts can cost as much $20,000; labor adds
    from $12,000 to $15,000.
    Matthew Quitter’s shop focuses on the Morris Minor Series II,
    but he’s converted Land Rovers, a Karmann Ghia, and a Citroën H
    Time: From a few weeks to six months, depending on his
    familiarity with the car.
    Cost: A conversion including a 110-brake-horsepower motor, rapid
    charging, and 24kWh battery usually costs £20,000. He’s starting
    a 24kWh option using Nissan Leaf components for £16,000.
    jaahn and bob like this.

  2. #2
    bob is online now
    1000+ Posts
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    May 2001


    G'day Ken,

    makes for a fairly expensive new old Fug, but wouldn't it be scary....


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