Electric vehicles are on the rise around the world, with sales figures growing rapidly in many countries. European, American, Chinese, and Indian markets are driving both electric car sales, as well as research and development. While most electric car manufacturers are building futuristic cars and trying to change the way humans interact with vehicles, some are future-proofing automotive classics by turning them into electric cars.
One startup from the UK, Lunaz, seems to think converting classic cars into EVs is one way to stay relevant. This new British brand restores classic cars and converts them with electric powertrains. Its aim is to make the most beautiful and celebrated cars in history ready for the future. “The Lunaz mission is to define the future of classics,” says company founder David Lorenz. “We preserve the past by embracing the future, making the most beautiful cars in history a relevant proposition.” This isn’t a new idea – lots of workshops around the world already offer various grades of electronic restorations. Silverstone-based Lunaz is determined to take the idea into a new realm with the promise of ultra-exclusive conversions of high-end classics. Lunaz is using experts from motor racing – from Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Volkswagen, and McLaren. Thus far Lunaz has confirmed work on models including a Rolls-Royce Phantom V and a Jaguar XK120.
The company plans to replace the internal-combustion engines of classic cars with a new powertrain incorporating both electric motors and a battery pack. The technical details will vary by car, but the company says its Jaguar XK120 demonstrator is fitted with an 80.0-kWh battery pack with drive coming from two 188-hp motors working on the same shaft and turning the existing rear differential. With a combined total of 375 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, it should be considerably quicker than the original car. The car will be heavier though, due to the large battery pack which also supports fast charging. Lunaz’s spokesperson mentioned the batteries they’re using are “brand new and of the modern pouch type, made in very large quantities for mainstream automotive applications. We assemble the cells into battery packs in house, and because we are fitting large battery packs with hundreds of cells, the charge current per cell is low and we do not require active cooling.” The plan is to offer regenerative braking, with active monitoring of wheel speed at each corner of the car to make sure this doesn’t cause locking up on slippery surfaces. Other modifications will include “modern conveniences such as satellite telecommunications, WiFi, audio-visual entertainment and navigational aids.”
The Rolls-Royce Phantom V was originally produced 1959-1968. Lunaz Design aims to make the Phantom V timeless, not as a museum piece, but as a daily driver. That’s why it doesn’t only have ABS, EBD, and traction control, but also conventional telescopic dampers and uprated brakes – six-piston calipers in the front, four-piston calipers at the rear. The battery pack, like the XK120, is split in two halves and is engineered and manufactured in-house by Lunaz. This Rolls-Royce Phantom is a restomod in the true sense – it appears to be a beautifully restored original, but drives like a modern car.
Converting your classic Jaguar XK120 or Rolls-Royce Phantom V won’t come cheap – Lunaz says it will cost the equivalent of at least $430,000. Also, the work will potentially damage originality and potentially reduce the value of the original vehicle. Will this be a deal breaker? Lunaz bets on the fact that “those able to afford such cars in the first place and keen to show off their green credentials, that is unlikely to be a deal breaker.”
The automotive community is divided about converting valuable while industry experts believe that EV conversions are a second lease of life for these vehicles. What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.