(During the month of October, we’re publishing a series of stories on the “futureproofing” of collector cars through the use of electric powertrains, which also are coming to seemingly every automaker’s vehicle lineup. As always, your comments are welcome, and if you have converted a vintage vehicle to electric power, we’d love to share your story with others. Contact us at email@example.com.)
“Are classic cars still ‘classic’ if converted to EVs?” asked the headline this week on TNW, the tech-oriented website owned by The Financial Times, the highly respected European business newspaper.
“YES, yes they are.” the website answered its own question.
“If there’s one topic that’s likely to elicit strong feelings among vehicle aficionados, it’s the conversion of a classic car into an electric vehicle,” the article begins, noting, “During the past few years, there’s been a flurry of electrified classic vehicle unveilings.”
But, the story continues, “not everyone’s happy about it and many among the antique car enthusiasts find the conversion to electricity, well, a sacrilege.”
The same argument might have been made years ago regarding the resto-mod, the now-popular and well-accepted process of taking a vintage vehicle, maintaining its exterior appearance, but installing a modern powertrain, updated suspension and braking systems to make the driving smoother and safer, and such creature features as air conditioning and Bluetooth.
Basically, such changes keep the classic appearance but make the vehicles much more usable, more enjoyable for owners and occupants.
And should there be the desire to put things back the way they were, it’s a simple matter of storing the original bits for reinstallation.
It’s the same with the recent phenomenon of doing an electro-mod, except instead of a petroleum-fueled new internal combustion engine, an electric powertrain is used, thus assuring the vehicles can continue to be driven even if internal combustion engines are banned.
The author of the TNW article offers a review of objections to any such modification of classic vehicles and even notes, “Antique cars are testaments to past human engineering ingenuity, and the combustion engine is an essential part of that. As with any historic artifact, to replace any part of its core elements, means that you reduce its authenticity.
“But,” the article continues, “do you also diminish its historical value?”
To answer that question, the article shares a photograph of historic buildings in Amsterdam, those famous tall but thin 5- and 6-story homes that have national heritage status.
“It’s illegal to make changes to their exterior design,” the article reports, noting as well that, “they can’t be demolished.”
But there’s another photo in the article, and this one shows the modern interior of the residences in those buildings, which have such modern conveniences as electricity for lighting, cooking, television, computers, heating and cooling.
“But to be livable and functional in the modern era, their interior has undergone various restorations,” TNW notes. “Does this reduce their historic value or character? No, it certainly doesn’t.”
Consider the National Register of Historic Places in the United States as well, where buildings are preserved but can be equipped with such modern interior conveniences as electricity and air conditioning.
Or consider that in Detroit, Ford is in the final phase of its preservation of the historic Michigan Central train station, which will become the base for its Corktown Campus and electric vehicle design and engineering teams as well as shopping and dining opportunities for employees and the public as well.
The TNW article continues:
“The same principle can be applied to classic cars. As much as the buildings of Amsterdam, antique vehicles need to be reinvented in order to fit into the future, which — let’s face it — is electric.
“We can keep the classics in a museum and admire them for their heavy heritage, but this way we simply fossilize them as a part of our past, as an artifact that has no relevance in the world we live in.
“Instead, the conversion of such vehicles into EVs can actually bring them from the past into everyday use, actively preserving their memory rather than burying it.”