I'm at a loss here, because while I understand the need for huge engines being crammed into classic cars and modding them to outrun today's supercars, what happens when we run out of fuel, and are left with beautifully designed and well-engineered paperweights?
We've already seen electric supercars like the new Tesla Roadster and the Rimac Project One which are capable of achieving incredible speeds, but those cost tremendous amounts of money. On the other end of the spectrum, we have mass market electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona EV, which aren't necessarily quick and they aren't necessarily beautiful.
What's the world to do? Drive around in these dull electric cars and, if we're lucky, buy an electric supercar? What about all of the classic cars that are loved by car enthusiasts around the world? What are we supposed to do with them when the fuel runs out for our big V8s?
Meet Teslonda, the champion for the next generation of hot-rodding. This gasser-style 1981 Honda Accord is running the drivetrain out of a Tesla Model S, and the batteries from a Chevy Volt. Totalling 16 kWh, this futuristic Frankenstein runs a Raspberry Pi instrument cluster which Jim, the owner and builder, says is good for logging performance data. What does all this electric tinkering amount to? Zero to sixty in 2.43 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 10.5 seconds.
What we have here then is a modern spin on a hot rod, but Teslonda isn't the first of its kind. Several years ago, Bill The Engineer began creating a similar electric hot rod, out a 1967 Pontiac Firebird and a 2010 Toyota Prius v. As of last week, the project is not done, however Bill is still actively posting updates on the project on Priuschat.
1979 Studebaker Avanti with Nissan Leaf running gear / Photo SOurced from eBay
Then we have to address the aftermarket for some of these cars, and I think we'll be just fine on that front, because back in 2014, Saleen, the tuning company known for incredibly powerful Mustangs, modified a Tesla Model S to create the Saleen ST. If an established company like Saleen is already looking into technology like this, then its only a matter of time before other tuning companies jump on board as well.
The last component to a hot-rod besides the look and the engine has to be the transmission, and as most of these electric conversions seem to use the transmissions out of their respective donor vehicles, we are talking single-speed transmissions or in the case of the Prius Firebird, a CVT. I recall Detroit Electric coming out with a vehicle called the SP:01 that was going to be an all-electric vehicle based on the Lotus Elise, like a 1st-generation Tesla Roadster, but unlike the Tesla, the SP:01 would have a four-speed manual as an option. Although the project has yet to come to fruition, it seems that driver involvement might still be a possibility for the electric car.
I personally love the idea of an electric hot-rod. I have this crazy idea of stretching a Tesla Model S P100D frame and then dropping a 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham onto it, and having the ultimate classic car.
So is this the future of hot-rodding? Are tuning companies going to come up with a way to squeeze more power and torque out of electric motors? Or this a fad that will die off as our gas-powered cars eventually become outdated and unusable?