Electric cars are undoubtedly interesting, in some ways still quite novel and evolving at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, most can't really be considered brilliant to look at; futuristic perhaps, but there aren't many EVs that are likely to get car lovers slobbering.
However, even the most ardent EV-head can at least appreciate the beauty of classics like the Jaguar XK120, Rolls-Royce Phantom V or Rolls-Royce Cloud. Now imagine these classic cars fully restored and running bang up-to-date electric running gear, but with all of the outward and most of the inward design left intact...
Imagine no more, because if you've got £350k down the back of the sofa, you can commission British EV conversion start-up, Lunaz, to build you an electric classic.
Based at Silverstone and founded in 2018, Lunaz isn't all talk and no trousers; it's already busy turning its vision into a reality with the aforementioned 1953 Jaguar XK120, 1961 eight-seat Rolls-Royce Phantom V and 1956 Rolls-Royce Cloud being turned from petrol to electric.
The process is painstaking, with each subject of Lunaz's conversion undergoing a ground-up re-engineering process. Cars are stripped down to the bare metal and 3D CAD scanned, enabling engineers to design the powertrain around the specific car. It is then rebuilt, blending classic coachbuilding techniques with ultra-modern restoration practices – especially with regards chassis engineering.
This includes the interior, within which buyers can specify state-of-the-art infotainment and even in-car Wi-Fi. Gauges are adapted into EV readouts and full air conditioning and heating systems are installed, along with throttle-by-wire controls.
Powertrain wise, Lunaz is keeping the specifics a closely guarded secret, but we do know that its Jaguar XJ120 conversion uses an 80kWh battery pack and has two motors to generate a combined 375bhp. The Rolls-Royce Phantom V utilises a 120kWh battery, though Lunaz hasn't told us what power it is running. In each case, the powertrain is apparently designed, engineered and tested in-house prior to being applied to the subject car. It even comes with regenerative braking and super-fast DC charging.
Secretive Lunaz might be, but it doesn't take a super-sleuth to guess that the kit Lunaz is using is probably lifted from a Tesla Model S...
Lunaz is the brainchild of David Lorenz – a classic car owner who, while standing on the side of the road waiting for his car to be repaired, saw a gap in the market for classic cars retrofitted with modern, zero-emissions powertrains to make them reliable and usable every day.
Lorenz said: “I want to respond to the demands of those drawn to the beauty and romance of classic cars but reject them because the current proposition doesn’t align with their sensibilities and lifestyle requirements. Lunaz provides these people the perfect solution – a beautiful but usable, sustainable and reliable electric classic."
Turning that vision into a reality required technical know-how to go alongside the vision, and Lorenz found this in John Hilton – a powertrain engineering legend who is perhaps best known for his role as Technical Director at Renault F1 during Fernando Alonso's dominant years. He has significant experience in electrified powertrains, having been Technical Director at Hope PoleVision Racing, the first team to run a hybrid at Le Mans nearly a decade ago.
As we mentioned, converting a classic using the Lunaz route will start at £350,000 – which is a lot, but you have to remember that for the money not only will your car get a heart transplant, it will also get a makeover to help roll back the years. From November Lunaz will be taking commissions from clients worldwide – and we reckon that a big percentage of their business will be from abroad.
If your budget doesn't stretch to £350k, there are a variety of companies offering off-the-shelf kits and electric conversion services. Another UK company, Electric Classic Cars, has converted all manner of cars with each one capable of being 'put right' just as easily. Even Jaguar will flog you a fully-reversible e-Type conversion in the shape of the e-Type Zero, whilst Westfield recently bought Chesil and plans to make electric Porsche Speedster replicas.
The question for car lovers is whether Lunaz's efforts are a step too far – automotive sacrilege of cars that should be left to drink petrol and break down every so often. Perhaps the biggest factor with this line of thinking is whether Lunaz conversions are reversible, and unfortunately the official blurb doesn't say. But judging by what we know, whilst it probably is reversible, it's probably not practical.
Either way, we love Lunaz's thinking and rationale behind what they're doing because as interesting as modern EVs are, we can't think of any that get close to the effortless style of the XK120. And if the way to keep these cars running is to convert them to electricity, then so be it.