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British firm RBW has launched an electric version of the classic MGB Roadster

Tags: #classic-ev-conversions

The MGB Roadster is a classic of the British sports car breed, but it has its flaws – namely the British Leyland build quality. RBW EV Classic Cars has the answer: an electric version of the classic, built from the ground up as a new car with the reliability of a modern EV.

The RBW EV Roadster takes the biggest plus point of the MGB Roadster – namely the way it looks – and does away with the numerous bad points, such as reliability, quality of materials, workmanship (or lack thereof)... we could go on.

RBW has been working on the Roadster for three years, with its launch the culmination of bringing together a new body shell from British Motor Heritage and RBW's patented power and drivetrain system. The way these elements have been brought together is canny. Managing Director of RBW, Peter Swain, said: “Our system places the electric motor at the rear of the car and Hyperdrive Innovation's lithium-ion battery technology under the bonnet.”

As you can imagine, this means that the car has very even weight distribution which Swain reckons makes the RBW EV Roadster handle better, as well as allowing for a larger battery from EV cell specialists, Hyperdrive Innovation.

Also aiding the car's handling, and bringing it up to modern standards, is an entirely bespoke front and rear suspension system. Unlike the original MGB, the RBW uses all-round independent suspension with double wishbones and coilovers at each corner. Braking is similarly modernised, whilst the drivetrain is fully regenerative braking-enabled.

Where the RBW Roadster sticks true to its roots is in the performance. It has a modest 94bhp, enabling it to hit 60mph in nine seconds and top out at 80mph. We'd call that more than adequate for the purpose! The standard battery is made up of six cells and offers a range of around 160 miles. Buyers can opt for two additional cells which pushes the range up to 200 miles.

Charging isn't fast, with an input of 3kW enabling a full charge to be achieved in eight hours. But then again, this car isn't designed to be an on-demand, everyday driver.

Thanks to a Pioneer infotainment system with full Wi-Fi capability, the RBW gets a 7 inch touchscreen complete with navigation. This builds in an HDMI input for smartphone mirroring, an SD card input and dual USB ports – ensuring that despite its retro looks the RBW has at least some of the mod cons.

The rest of the interior is basic but functional, with the leather trim and stitching designed and made by Protrim – an automotive interior specialist. Buyers can choose between five interior colours and 14 exterior colours to add that little bit of personalisation. There's even a hard top available.

At £90k, the RBW EV Roadster is not cheap, but given that a conversion won't be that much less and other 'as new' builds are similarly priced, in its field it's competitive. RBW is planning a fixed head GT version in 2021, if that's more your bag.

Other options on the platform

If the MGB isn't for you, the RBW's drivetrain system will also fit in other classic body shells. Swain said: “The RBW System and architecture can be installed into other body shells such as Austin Healey, Jaguar E-Type, Mini, and many more. Each car can be built to the clients’ personal specification and requirements. The opportunities are endless and therefore safeguard the future of classic motoring.”

If you have £90,000 for a newly built classic EV, check out RBW's website.

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