Welham vs Coleman: Are classic EVs the future?
Watch a battle to the death and vote in the poll at the end!
The idea of a classic car being converted into an EV is a huge debate in this day and age. Many people have been doing it right under our noses. Some people view it as sacrilege, and others see it as a progression into the future.
I am one of those people who see it as a progression into the future and a big leap in the way we view and drive cars, but John Coleman disagrees...
In this debaticle, John and I will aim to fight things out using nothing but words and the occasional Aussie insult and Dacia low-blow to win the argument. It will more-or-less be a bit like the PMQ's on a Wednesday afternoon but more civilised.
Welham's side (for classic EVs):
So, why am I, Ben Welham - lover of slow, cheap and underpowered old cars, willing to be the classic EV conversion evangelist in this debate?
Well, I never used to like EVs, in fact I hated them. It took me a couple of years to come to terms with them and now I very much love them, in fact I would own one. However, this debate isn't about that, it is about converting classic cars into EVs.
Now, I have no idea what John is going to say about this but I assume it'll be something along the lines of...'I hate EV converted classic cars because it ruins heritage and I like the smell of oil, plus I am going to have to add charging ports onto all my model Rolls Royces.'
While many people will agree with him, I don't. I think the art of taking something old and updating it is absolutely fine. Yes, some people are taking uber-rare cars and making them EVs but barely anyone is doing that. The ones I have seen are mostly Land Rover Defenders which they made millions of, the same goes for EV Volkswagen Beetles and Porsche 911s. They made millions upon millions of them.
Okay, so they only made a few thousand Ferrari 308s and I have seen a couple of EV converted ones, but who cares. It's something different and something which is saving the planet (to an extent) every time they are used.
On top of that, being able to drive, say, a Defender in the centre of London and not producing any TDI fumes and noise pollution is a wonderful thing. Yes, you don't get great range but realistically, how often is someone taking a classic more than 150/200 miles at a time anyway?
Coleman's side (against classic EVs)
My position is conservative, not reactionary –EV conversion is no more, and thus no worse, than an engine swap. EV-swapped classics are a genre just like hot rods; clearly not original but there’s space for it in the scene.
It’s the prevailing rhetoric and reasoning I despise, and of course, Welham can’t help but tap into it: “the art of taking something old and updating it is absolutely fine”, for instance. “It's something different and something which is saving the planet (to an extent) every time they are used.” The attitude is: we’re future-proofing classics. We’re making them more environmentally friendly. We’re making them relevant.
Firstly, we’re making them relevant to 2020. Presumably when EV tech has improved much further in 5, 10 years’ time, we’ll have to molest the classic car again and “update” it.
Second – and this is my point - why are we trying to make classic cars relevant? They’re engineering and art from another era – of which the powertrain is just one part. The car’s still unsafe if you crash, the front moniker is still going to fillet a pedestrian, and it’s still not going to corner like a Corolla. If you want that convenient, comfortable, noiseless, TDI fume-free, latest-regulation-satisfying motoring experience, we have relevant cars. We make them every day. And when they cease to be relevant, we update them.
At best, this relevancy argument reveals the attitude that the current era is so important, so ultimate, we must reach into the past and bring that up to speed too. At worst, it shows the desire to pose, not actually appreciate a classic car and what it represents.
So yes, I’d admire a classic EV restoration at a car show. Without foolishly assuming I’m witnessing the future of classic cars.