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The Future of Classic Cars

General Lee

In television and film there are rare occurrences of cars transcending their human character counterparts and becoming the defining image of said film or tv show. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 from Bullitt, the 1969 Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazards, Cameron’s Dads Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder from Ferris Buellers Day off and even the 1981 De Lorean DMC – 12 from Back to the Future.

These cars have become iconic pop culture images and the appetite for classic cars is still strong, with over half a million classic or historic vehicles in the UK - in fact the UK government estimates the classic car industry to be worth of up to £5.5bn. However, is the classic car in danger of becoming extinct on our roads?

petrol and diesel track days?

As governments across the globe push for the implementation of electric vehicles and stringent fuel – economy legislation, there are concerns that classic cars use will be heavily restricted. Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health and classic cars are not the cleanest at the best of times.

Petrol heads may have their options reduced to heritage experiences and or track days to enjoy the familiar sound of an old fossil fuel powered engine. In fact, petrol and diesel cars that aren’t identified as classics, (officially 40 years old and older by UK Government definition), could be in just as much demand as their classic counterparts. By 2040 the demand to drive a 2014 Nissan GTR down a country road, could be just as appealing as driving a 1967 Mini Cooper Classic.

Although this is a viable alternative, this limited use will still not satisfy everyone. To combat this limited option, Jaguar and Aston Martin have come up with a “If you can’t beat them, join them” solution.

ev powertrain

Jaguar and Aston Martin will be offering electric vehicle powertrain conversions for its heritage models, seemingly allowing Classic Car usage to continue unheeded when the new laws come into effect.

As these cars have historical significance, it’s obviously vital that any EV conversion never jeopardises the integrity of the car. What makes this conversion so appealing is the ability to reverse the engine conversion to its previous state; allaying owner fears of never hearing the 4 Litre engine purring ever again.

Sitting on the original engine and gearbox mountings, the cassette is enclosed within its own self-contained cell. Cords from the power unit then feed the car's electrical systems. Power management is operated via a dedicated screen, which is discreetly fitted to the car's interior.

Utilising knowledge acquired from producing the Rapide E and Lagondas EV models, Aston Martin’s first classic car model to receive the cassette EV powertrain is the 1970 DB6 Mk2 Volante. Jaguar will be offering the conversion for older E-types, utilising some of the technology already in place for their E-Type Zero Concept car.

Aston Martin DB6 EV

Alternative solution

Although EV conversions are still in their infancy and costs/specifications are yet to be fully tested or calculated, the ability to convert old fossil fuelled engines to electric power could provide a viable option for car owners in 2040. If this level of technology can be used in a classic car over half a century old, surely it could be adapted for recent mass-produced models such as the Vauxhall Corsa?

The ability to retain an older car model and convert an engine, could ease the pressure on car manufactures to produce enough EVs to satisfy demand by 2040. This could potentially also lower the number of cars being initially scrapped and phase out older models at a slower rate.

Whether this is a viable option economically or environmentally is still not clear, however classic car enthusiasts should take encouragement from Aston Martin and Jaguars EV conversions. The potential for an EV conversion market in the automotive industry will always exist, as long as car enthusiasts and petrol heads take interest.

Installations of the EV powertrains will begin in 2020 as its Classic Works facility in Coventry, UK for Jaguar and 2019 for Aston Martin.

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