When you ask the question, why should cars go Electric? The answer is usually how good it is for the environment, saving the planet and so on. What you don’t expect someone to say is “to go faster”, but that is exactly the reason why Richard Morgan, the man behind Electric Classic Cars Limited, does what he does. He turns those classic cars with their combustion engines into, well classic electric cars, and of course when we heard he had just converted a 1971 Fiat 500 we just had to take a closer look!
Having been impressed with the instant power from an electric bike some years ago, Richard took it upon himself to have a go at turning some of that electric capability into cars, but didn’t want to go down the modern car route. After all there are enough car companies out there with mega money doing that. With his back ground in engineering and rallycross Richard had a passion for older cars, and what better than to convert a classic car you might only bring out for a Sunday drive into something that is quiet, reliable and fun, so began his electric revolution.
Richard admits classic cars are great, but will also tell you they can be unreliable, unpredictable and dirty when working on those old engines, but if you remove all those moving parts such as say, the engine (?!) and replace it with an electric motor, you alleviate a lot of those classic car worries of things breaking or wearing away in the engine department. I have no doubt many people by now are screaming at their screen as they read this saying such things as “remove the engine on a classic car – sacrilege!” Well maybe, but maybe not, I am after all a petrolhead so I was more than a little curious by what Richard was doing at Electric Classic Cars.
From the outside the little Fiat looks pretty much like any other you mind find on display at a car show, it’s an iconic little car and yes all seems very normal, nothing to suggest it is any different to when it left the factory, albeit a little bit of standard wear and tear. However lift the classic Fiat badge on the bonnet and you will find a socket, small and discretely hidden just waiting to be plugged in, literally a plug and play car?!
On the inside, just like outside the car, all seem’s normal, no weird glowing central display, just a standard Fiat 500 dashboard, except for one very small digital indicator that at first glance you might even miss, the display shows a power level just like on your smartphone. With a turn of the key you hear, well nothing, an uncanny silence, no rattling 40 year old engine, birds don’t suddenly fly off as if a gunshot has fired, in fact its fair to say nobody would be aware that this little Fiat 500 has suddenly come to life.
To drive it is so simple, no changing gear, basically just push the accelerator and off you go with instant power, no revving, no build up. Richard explains how a 200bhp petrol car for example will hit its peak but then power drops off where as an electric car doesn’t, that power, that peak is always there, the electric motor just has it there all the time. It makes for an interesting drive, sure the little Fiat drives like a classic, wind and tyre noise enter the cabin, the old steering wheel feels big in comparison to modern cars, despite it now being driven by an electric motor this classic car has lost none of it’s driving characteristics, it really is a lot of fun. And that instant power is so impressive, instead of possibly holding people up as we make our way across some of the steeper roads in Wales, the electric Fiat is right on the tail of the traffic ahead and you get the feeling would have no problem whizzing past it.
It is fair to say we could talk about this car all day long, what Richard at Electric Classic Cars is doing is fantastic, no I’m not completely sold on the whole electric thing but that said it really is very good. Quite simply the future might be electric, but that doesn’t mean classic cars don’t have a place in it, and with electric classic cars you can be green and stay clean!
See how our drive went in the converted Electric Fiat 500…