“We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come,” says Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer.
Good point. How do you solve a problem like futureproofing your classic car? You’ve shelled out squillions on a rare and beautiful Sixties supercar, only to find out that its fifty-year old engine is shortly declared illegal by an eco- and image-conscious government. Are all classic cars helplessly doomed to a life of static display on museums and garages?
Aston Martin to the rescue, it would seem. Because the latest scheme from Aston Martin Works is a fully reversible electric powertrain conversion. Engine goes out, batteries and motor goes it. And should you change your mind, just do the switch-a-roo. Genius. Or sacrilege?
Of course, Aston Martin is by no means the first carmaker to introduce a hefty voltage to an ol’timer. Jaguar created the E-Type Concept Zero last year: a 1968 Series I E-Type with the straight-six engine removed and a 22kW e-powertrain under the bonnet. It weighed 80kg less than a standard E-Type, and starred in the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The Jag was updated with an all-new, screen-festooned cockpit, too. And like the Jag, these Astons are intended to be easily converted back to dino-juice propulsion.
Aston Martin Works is proud of the fact the e-drivetrain ‘casette’, which uses knowledge harvested from the electric Rapide programme, sits on the existing engine and gearbox mounts. “The cassette is enclosed within its own self-contained cell,” we’re told. “Umbilical 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.”
To demonstrate the idea, Aston’s cooked up this electric 1970 DB6 Vantage Volante. Look, it’s still got a rev-counter, exhaust pipes, and even a fuel gauge, so swapping back to internal combustion won’t be too tricky. Yet, listen. Listen closely. Yes, in real life it’s apparently as silent as it looks in the pictures. The company expects to start building conversions to order in 2019.
Boss of Aston Martin Works Paul Spires commented: “Driving a classic Aston Martin on pure EV power is a unique experience and one that will no doubt be extremely attractive to many owners, especially those who live in city centres. We also foresee collectors adding another dimension to their collection by commissioning EV-converted heritage cars.”
And that’s the tip of the iceberg. Just picture the scene: “Now, pay attention Double-Oh-Seven. These are your charging point payment cards. Yes, all eight of them. To complete your mission you’ll need to park in the correct bay and allow 16 hours for a recharge. Don’t forget to unplug before giving chase to Oddjob’s henchmen.”