Conversion shops are the bespoke tailors of the EV world – maverick motorheads who craft custom creations for the wealthiest of car lovers. The California company Electric GT has created a “crate motor” that’s designed to make it easier for professional converters or even ambitious home mechanics to electrify vintage ICE vehicles.
New York Times reporter Lawrence Ulrich drove a vintage Fiat 124 Spider conversion equipped with one of the company’s powertrains. The e-Spider packs 120 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. It makes 60 mph in about 7 seconds – 3 seconds better than the gas version’s best. A 25 kWh battery pack mounted in the trunk delivers a 75-85 mile driving range. For larger vehicles, Electric GT can provide packs with up to 100 kWh of capacity (the company salvages batteries from low-mileage Teslas).
“The idea is to take something old and mix it with something new, with good design and engineering behind it,” co-founder Brock Winberg told the Times. “A lot of guys go out in a classic car that’s 40 or 50 years old, but it’s a one-way trip – they get a ride home with AAA,” added his partner Eric Hutchison. “This is for enthusiasts who love their cars but want something reliable that’s good for a weekend drive.”
Electric GT’s system is for those who love to drive. It’s designed exclusively for manual-transmission cars. A self-contained “black box” includes a motor and its control unit, and is designed to be installed under a vehicle’s hood. One quaint touch: the system is designed to resemble a vintage V-8 engine, with faux cylinder heads and orange sparkplug cables.
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