Retro Fitting Classic Cars

Retro Fitting Classic Cars

My apologies if anyone has already posted something like this, but I would like to suggest an idea of using Tesla technology in classic cars. Consider using Tesla battery technology formed into a battery the size of a V-8 and then add Tesla motors to run the car. Imagine this - a 1967 Corvette Stingray with the battery where the engine was and a Tesla motor in the back. The car would scream with speed and performance. I love classic cars but their performance by modern standards are horrible. Why drop a LS7 engine in an old Corvette when you can get even better performance from a Tesla restomod. I hope Elon Musk sees this. I would like to retrofit a classic corvette to showcase what Tesla can do. Please contact me with your thoughts.

SCCRENDO | July 11, 2016

Why bother. He has too much other stuff to do

lilbean | July 11, 2016

What about the sound or lack of engine sound? I can't imagine Corvette fans liking that.

Cdotpeterman | July 12, 2016

There may come a time when that will be the only way to keep an old classic car on the road. The conversion would be an aftermarket kit, not a Tesla product.
Might cost as much as a new Tesla though. I'll consider it for my old TR6 if it isn't a pile of unrecognizable rust by then.

Dramsey | July 12, 2016

There are companies doing this already.

Howeve charming the results might be in this particular example, retrofitted ICE cars will always be extremely expensive (Zelectric Beetles start at $60K), and very limited next to purpose-built BEVs. As toys for rich people, they're cool; as practical things, not so much.

NVJoule | July 12, 2016

One of the elegant design features of Tesla Motor Cars is the flat battery arrangement giving the car an exceptionally low center of gravity. Placing a heavy cube shaped battery in the very front and higher up in the car creates significant balance issues. Given the skateboard chassis design, I always thought it should be easy to recreate classic car designs on top of standard Tesla chassis. It would be cool if Tesla came out with scalable custom chassis to retrofit classic cars.

Dwdnjck@ca | July 12, 2016

EV West does conversions and sells kits and supplies. They even offer Tesla style battery modules, reclaimed from electric Smart cars. They recently reclaimed and electrified a burnt out Ferrari. Check their web site.

Dithermaster | July 13, 2016
brando | July 15, 2016

Many old classics aren't driven much, so electric conversion may be just fine.

Frank.B.Smith | July 16, 2016

Brando. Cars that are not driven much have little environmental impact. Would make more sense to leave the classics alone and focus on a retrofit for all the daily drivers that are ice cars.

nadurse | July 20, 2016

This will play a significant role in the future of the the aftermarket vehicle industry, but I doubt Tesla will be concerned too much about this. I think the best you might hope for is Tesla having a recommended or sponsored company/shop that they supply their products too. At this point in time there are some DIYers and a handful of companies, mostly because it is still extremely cost prohibitive to do. The degree of difficulty is going down as more and more people do these full electric conversions so more off the shelf products are available for your application. But this is still in its infancy.

Rocky_H | July 20, 2016

This is always going to have a cost/scalability problem. It's not the main parts like battery and motor so much as the cost of knowledgeable people's time to investigate, design, prototype, fit, install, test, etc. for each and every model of existing car. The installation locations, mounts, brackets, etc. would all be different. Every one would be basically a one-off design project for a single digit number of units. That is ridiculously expensive for each one if it's not going to scale up to tens of thousands.

Ross1 | July 20, 2016

Does anyone know anything about replacing a yacht engine with an electric drivetrain?

grega | July 23, 2016

I'd love to see a conversion solution. But I imagine the cost will never be justified. Elon's bus and rental system will be a better option.

If they can come up with something easy it'd be great.

I think a minimum would need a small motor integrated with a 1kW ultra-capacitor and a 14kWh battery. That would give 40 miles electric covering 80% of miles (and battery weigh about 400lbs).

Put that in a neat package that out of work auto mechanics could put their skills to, and maybe something could be made. And it would charge from 240V easy enough.

Even then there are other systems to integrate - AC / heating etc.

And that's before considering how to get beyond 40 miles. Using retired auto mechanics, they'd be comfortable integrating a tiny 20kW/25hp generator with existing gas tanks. Or get some much bigger battery options with the battery located elsewhere to balance the weight plus adjust suspension.

I'd like to see it. There are cars that have a terrible rate of engine issues but low body issues that would be good candidates.

Homebrook | July 25, 2016

I say leave the old classics alone. They're heavy as sin and would make an extremely inefficient electric car anyway. A classic car with an electric motor is no longer a classic car, so its been ruined in a sense, having been turned it into a twisted distortion of its original identity. It makes about as much sense as retrofitting a Tesla with a V8. The old classic cars are beautiful and elegant machines in their own right built when electric cars only existed in people's dreams. But hey, if its your car who am I to tell you what to do with it? I am speaking philosophically here.

I like things being what they actually are. I like that in people too! Its called integrity.

grega | July 25, 2016

I've always liked things looking older but being high tech under the hood. I'm not sure why though, I do see your point of view.

In terms of cars, perhaps it depends on whether the looks or what's under the hood are what makes it classic to you personally.

mos6507 | July 26, 2016

This used to be the ONLY solution before the Volt and the rest came out. That was back in the lead acid days as few could afford Lifepo4. It's really the BMS I worry about in systems like this, the lack of thermal management. It would be nice to have a truly modern system that babies the packs the way Teslas do.

Ross1 | July 27, 2016

Are you describing a BMW i3?

Ross1 | July 27, 2016

My son wants to retrofit a yacht..say 42'....with electric drivetrain.
Anyone done that?

Realure | July 27, 2016

The guys at EVWest have done a boat. I am having an old VW done by them. I want to be able to drive the car and those old cars were very unreliable. With an EV drivetrain, you have a cool ride that will not break down or need maintenance all the time.

codyb12889 | July 27, 2016

There are tons of conversions going on but it is just not cost effective at all. Designing a battery pack and drive train around an existing platform requires some pretty intense design efforts and then you get into the creating of custom parts. After all of that you have only done it for a single year, make, and model.

The great thing is the technology exists to do it if you really want to pony up the cash to have something extremely unique.

These guys say they will be selling electric converted corvettes that can break speed records at "upwards of $330,000"

wired DOT com/2016/07/electric-corvette-destroy-world-record/

Jeff Hudson | July 27, 2016

Classic cars are classic because they are kept true to their original designers and manufacturers intentions.

Of course you can do any sort of modification on your vehicle as long as it's legal but personally I would not consider modifying a classic car into an EV.

leadfoot_ed | July 20, 2019

I would love to do a Tesla motor restomod on my '83 Buick Regal wagon. Think it would be really unique.

reed_lewis | July 21, 2019

The issue is that there are hundreds of cars out there all with different designs in terms of engine placement, etc. There is absolutely no way any company could make money having to design the retrofit kits for every single car out there because every car would be different, and it is a major undertaking to acquire a good sample of the car, do the design of the install parts and instructions.

Furthermore, where do you propose the battery goes? If you put it under the hood then the car will be very front heavy. In the trunk, the car will be back heavy.

And don't forget about the cooling lines for the motors and batteries.

This is not something that any major company would attempt to make because there is a small market for each model of car.

blue adept | July 22, 2019

Imma gonna be modifying some of my antique and classic / 'retro' cars from ICE to BEV...I'll let ya know how it goes.

greg | July 22, 2019

This link

Shows what a New Zealand electricity company did to a 1957 Ford Fairlane to convert it to BEV. (they call it "EVIE" as a result).

They use/used the car in their TV ads and for promotional purposes to upsell the benefits of electric cars and their [middle of the road] EV time of use plans.

This all started about 2 years ago when they rebranded the company.

The videos cover the conversion process and such and there are some TV ads on there too if you want to see how they used it.

The yellow paint job, is the corporate colours of the electricity company. and the stylised "Bee" logo on the steering wheel and hood ornament is their corporate logo too.

And youl'll notice in the aerial shots that the car is a left hand drive, but the roads its driven in Right Hand drive roads, so the car drives on the wrong side of the road compared to the US.

Must have cost a small fortune to do the conversion job.

DonS | July 23, 2019

Anyone who has ever customized a vehicle knows that it is a black hole for your time. Every bit of customization should (but seldom does) have documentation, either for future owners, or for your own memory 10 years down the road, to avoid having to reverse engineer your one-of-kind drive train,or suspension, or whatever. If you ran a custom EV shop and someone had to pay for that time, it would be very hard to make it as profitable business.

blue adept | July 24, 2019

I see it as being a fairly straight forward operation with the only real modification being swapping out the engine, fuel and exhaust systems for a motor and some batteries and management system.

Everything else will likely remain the same with the one possible exception being the suspension (might swap out the standard for some coil overs or an air ride system.

reed_lewis | July 25, 2019

@blue adept said 'a fairly straight forward operation'. Wow talk about understanding a complex issue. The issues are:
1. Where do you put the batteries? Every car has a differently shaped gas tank, and that space is not enough to put all the batteries
2. Every car has a different engine type and mount. It is not a 'remove the engine and place the motor' type system.
3. There is no way that any of this can be made into a product because there are so any different cars out there and this would never be done to a car that is running well. The only 'donation' cars would be cars that are failing, and because there are very few of them where the body is worth keeping, there is not a critical mass of a single model/year.

This is not like adding a video card to a computer with a expansion slot. It is like having to take the motherboard apart, find all the circuity to add a slot, and wire it up yourself, and then make a slot, and then plug in the card.

It is and will always remain a niche market of a very few instances of this happening.

DonS | July 26, 2019

I have experienced problems with a GM radio causing trouble all through the body control system because it all sits on the same bus. Installing aftermarket HVAC and drive train control would not play well with the rest of the electronics. The problem is solvable, but at far greater effort than would appear at first glance.

SamO | July 31, 2019

1. Built with Tesla batteries (ha)

2. Claims they will "rent" the batteries, but no announcement on sourcing. (scale)

3. Only for Renault vehicles (yikes). I guess when diesel is outlawed from city centers and then from the country at large, their value will fall to zero. (yea?)

4. Very comparable to the $7-10k powertrain kit for Porsche EV conversion, without the batteries.

5. Assuming that they aren't sourcing directly from Tesla, they'll need to buy a 40-50kWh battery at $200/kWh.

I'm glad that there are "ideas" but please understand that this is vaporware. Without discussions of scale, this is hobby conversion. Battery sourcing is the issue. Fobbing it off to "rental" is financial chicanery at best. Maybe in 5 years, they can scale to 10,000 units per year.

Just subscribe to the Tesla Network. Tesla will be building 2M cars per year by then and the Tesla Network will be carrying 8-20X the vehicle volume in passenger trips. Nobody has discussed that Tesla could incentivize the Tesla Network to act like a Lyft Line or Uber Share. Optimizing pickups, dropoffs and utilization is another way that Tesla will be responsible for a greater share of "transportation" rather than selling the most cars.

Which IMO they ultimately will. They will be the largest automaker on the planet.

andy.connor.e | July 31, 2019

Who in their right mind would rent their batteries.

TabascoGuy | July 31, 2019

Probably the same people that lease cars.

Oh wait, you said "right mind". Never mind.

TabascoGuy | July 31, 2019

Probably the same people that would consider converting an ICE vehicle to EV.

Oh wait, you said "right mind". Yup, that works.

andy.connor.e | July 31, 2019

lol the salt production is over capacity on this topic

reed_lewis | July 31, 2019

I see earlier in this thread, but forgot the heater and A/C systems, etc. You would need to add a electric heater at least, and most likely an A/C compressor plus condensing coil, etc. If need to keep the battery and motor cool or heat it and if it is not in the 'sweet spot' the live of the electric components will be severely shortened.

So you will get an EV with nothing close to the range of a Tesla, no functionality of a Tesla, no heat or A/C and most likely a much shortened life compared to a Tesla. Tell me again why this is a good idea?

andy.connor.e | July 31, 2019

You missed 90% of the conversation. This conversation has been over and done with for a few weeks now.

TabascoGuy | July 31, 2019

Even the guy from the retrofit startup in NKYTA's article above advised readerd to "drive the combustion car as long as it can take, and just buy a new electric car after, because it makes much more sense financially.”

And he's only talking about a $5600 kit.

TabascoGuy | July 31, 2019


andy.connor.e | July 31, 2019

Here we go again!

blue adept | July 31, 2019


I plan on relying heavily on my background in various engineering, design, fabrication, and technically oriented trades (but a few of the many hats that I wear), and that's why I think it would be a 'fairly straight forward operation' for me (alas, 'the best laid plans of mice and men' and all that), plus, I'm also going to follow the template devised by that "Reverend Gadget" (Gregory Abbott) guy that I mentioned earlier in the conversation, at least initially just to get a 'feel' for it and/or the processes involved.

To your questions...

1) I plan on distributing the batteries between the trunk and/or fuel tank-spare tire area between the frame in a fabricated, drop-in tray (to retain access to the majority of the available trunk space) and engine compartment to balance the weight between the front and rear of the car (with more in the rear to balance out the weight of the motor and associated electronics that will be housed in the 'sealed' (I plan on installing and undercarriage panel that will both increase the vehicle's aerodynamics and protect the engine bay from ground-based debris and water) engine compartment.

2) I plan on fabricating an adjustable 'cradle' bracket that will use the existing motor mounts as mounting points and will serve to align the motor with the factory transmission to enable a direct attachment mounting and provide a sub-frame for the forward battery tray.

3) Like I've said before, I plan on performing these modifications on my vintage and classic cars to bring them into the present while maintaining their era's aesthetic and am hoping to devise techniques that will be applicable across all platforms to help ease their transition as I familiarize myself with the various processes involved.

Clearly all of this is still only in the 'planning' stage with much of it the product of my imagination, but I've got some good guidelines to follow and am quite adept in the necessary required fields to make this a successful endeavor.

Bottom line, other people have and are doing it so I don't see why I can't also do it and, who knows, along the way I just might manage to standardize some aspects of the process that will make it applicable across all vehicular platforms (afterall, you'll never know if you don't try, but you definitely won't know if you don't)!?!

blue adept | July 31, 2019


Thanks for the heads up, but GM gremlins aren't one of my concerns.

blue adept | July 31, 2019


And now there's a new France-based EV converter (allegedly)!

blue adept | July 31, 2019

@andy.connor.e & @TabascoGuy

The theory is that people are either left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of their brain is dominant, so if you're mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you're said to be left-brained whereas if you tend to be more creative or artistic, you're thought to be right-brained.

So there's definitely right-brain action initially likely followed closely with some left-brain intervention once you're elbow deep in it and wondering to yourself 'what the hell have I gotten myself into this time...again?!'

We test our limits not to define them but to redefine who we are.


Yes, VERY salty.

blue adept | July 31, 2019


There have been aftermarket 'bolt-on' A/C and heater systems almost since the dawn of the automobile, so I don't foresee any issues there, so it's just a matter of determining which of the available options are the most efficient, and I plan on retaining the 'factory' engine cooling system, just slightly modified, but that's only if I choose to go with liquid cooling as opposed to air.

No, they won't be Tesla's, nothing even near it, but they weren't Tesla's to begin with so there's that, but they'll still have the era-based nostalgia and aesthetic which, if you've been paying attention, is what I'm going for.

SamO | July 31, 2019

Yes brain hemispheres explains it.

Lulz. The high woo of people smelling their own farts is hilarious.

andy.connor.e | August 1, 2019
blue adept | August 1, 2019


Like I been sayin'....

andy.connor.e | August 1, 2019


We. Like we've been trying to say.

blue adept | August 1, 2019


Yes, WE!!