Should you convert a classic car into an EV? The for and against

1y ago


The modification of classic cars or potential future classics is a subject that creates fierce debate among all of you enthusiasts here on DriveTribe. Some will say tasteful resto-modding is the way to go, whereas others would quite possibly send you a horse’s head for even suggesting it.

When thinking of the most significant potential modification though, there is only one: the powertrain. What if you could swap the ageing internal combustion engine out for a thoroughly modern EV setup? And if you could make that swap, should you?

Here are the arguments for and against converting your classic car into a pure EV. ..

For: The Internal Combustion Engine is dying

The mighty V12, sadly rare these days....

In these eco-conscious times, the traditional ICE powertrain could well be coming to the end of its useful life. A number of the governments around the world have promised to halt the sales of pure ICE cars within the next twenty years, whether we like it or not.


Add to this, the additional hazard that a number of significant cities have promised that older (hence traditional) pure ICE powered cars will be banned from their streets in the coming years, making you think ‘when or where am I actually going to be allowed to drive my classic?’

Swapping out your old engine for an EV powertrain would solve this problem in one go.

Against: Classic cars should be preserved

Even the humble Ford Fiesta XR2 is a classic that should be preserved....

A significant part of a classic car is what powers it. Whether it is a hulking V12 with 150bhp or a tiny 500cc twin with 14bhp, the engine is a part of the car's character - its soul if you will.

Older engines emit a distinct noise that has possibly been lost by their modern equivalents with their digitally produced sounds.

Just think of how good the roar of carburettors sounds at full chat on an old Ford four-pot or the smooth purr of a BMW straight six. Both make for evocative soundtracks that are sorely lacking in modern cars.

For: An EV powertrain equals low maintenance

Not many parts at all....

One plus point for EV powertrains is that little or no maintenance is required when compared to their somewhat complex ICE counterparts.

Key components such as the speed controller, inverter, battery management system and coolant pumps and fans require minimal servicing over their lifespan.

Against: You don’t own a classic because they are reliable

Beautiful, but it will break down at some point...

For anyone that owns a classic, it’s not a case of when it will go wrong, but the fact that it will go wrong. As a classic car owner myself, I am comfortable with the fact that something will break at some point rendering my car to nothing more than a roadside spectacle accompanied by a cloud of smoke.

But we don’t buy classics to ensure that we get everywhere on time, all of the time. We buy them as a labour of love, meaning that we treat them like our own flesh and blood, ensuring they are looked after regardless of the cost.

As a part of this labour of love, most owners (like me) task ourselves with performing preventative work to reduce the chances of a breakdown. Because owning a classic car means you should get your hands dirty and work on it yourself whenever possible.

For: Converting a classic to EV will preserve it for the future

The BMW of the future?

As cars age, inevitably parts become rarer and more difficult to get hold off. Worse still, say for example your old engine is knackered and in need of a full rebuild, you could find yourself getting severely scalped for parts with work running into the thousands cost-wise, purely because original parts are scarce and expensive.


All of this parts business can be mostly avoided with an EV conversion, in so much that if your engine is long in the tooth, swapping it out for a nice shiny electric motor makes a lot of sense as a possibly cheaper option in the long run.

Against: Once they are gone, they are gone forever

Save or pass?

Classic cars are dubbed as ‘classic’ because, A) there are very few left, or, B) they are a part of a gone but not forgotten era of motoring which is a bit special.

Focusing on the first point, if you were to EV convert a classic, it would likely be an irreversible process. As in, once it’s done, it will never be the same again, potentially losing that something special that made the car unique in the first place. For the world, this would mean the loss of the originality that comes with that factory powertrain because it’s gone forever with an EV swap.

So, what are your thoughts on converting classic cars to EVs? Are you for or against? Vote below, and let us know in the comments.