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Much to my dismay, it would appear that the oncoming world domination of the electrical vehicle is inevitable. As more and more car manufacturers are turning their attention from fossil fuels to this hocus-pocus means of propulsion, the spookily silent electrical cars are constantly taking up more and more space on our roads.

Of course, for the most part, these high-tech electrically driven vehicles are usually modern through and through – in concept, design, drivetrain, suspension, interior, materials etc etc… But there are examples of the opposite. Claus wrote about the subject earlier this summer when he argued that Classic Cars Make the Most Interesting Electrical Vehicles. A rather controversial claim no doubt – but considering how utterly uninteresting I find ordinary modern electrical vehicles, I suppose that in some weird and backwards way there is an element of truth to it. But regardless of how this highly conservative and grumpy classic car enthusiast, yours truly, might view these electrically converted classic cars, there does indeed seem to be a market for them even if it’s still a small one.

There has certainly been a constant stream of new zero-emission classics being introduced recently. It’s come to the extent, where about a month ago, even Jaguar Land Rover Classic apparently felt the need to get in on the game, as they announced that they were going ahead with the Jaguar E-type Zero – offering restored E-types with an electrical powertrain. Sacrilege! And now the latest new offering in this very niche market was recently announced by RBW Classic Electric Cars based just north of Birmingham in the UK. In conjunction with Zytek Automotive, who among other projects provide components for the winning Formula E racers, RBW Classic have introduced their new RBW Roadster EV, which is essentially a brand new MGB shell from British Motor Heritage coupled with the latest battery and drivetrain technology. With this, RBW claims that it is securing the future of classic motoring.

They intend to build 18 of these new Roadsters in 2019, where customers naturally will be able to spec both colour and interior of their cars to order. There are also already plans put in place to expand their model range with similar electrically powered classics in the shape of the iconic Jaguar XK-SS and later the Jaguar C-type as well.

You’ve probably already guessed that engineering like this is unlikely to come cheap. And you’re right. The RBW Roadster EV will sell at a staggering £ 99,600 incl. taxes. Should you require more style and exclusivity, then the RBW C-type EV can be yours for £ 150,000, and you’ll still have to cough up yet another £ 30,000 if you fancy looking like a 21st century Steve McQueen in the RBW XK-SS EV. Hmmmm… seems like a lot of cash if I’m to be honest. Considering that I can probably buy the very best of the best MGB’s at about a fifth the price of this electrically powered version, I know where I would put my money. In fact, if you actually have £ 100 grand to spend and feel strongly about owning the evergreen MGB, then how about filling your garage with a mint MGB – uhmm… one with a real engine – a Jaguar Mk2 3.8 and a G-series Porsche 911 Carrera? All of that for the same price as one electrically powered MGB lookalike. Difficult choice? Nah, not really…

But even disregarding the somewhat out of proportion cost, I can’t help but ask: “Are these actually real classic cars?” I mean, they clearly and obviously look like classic cars. But is that enough? Much as I truly appreciate the design of a wide variety of classic cars, surely there is more to it than that. Surely, we’re not that shallow. Surely, we don’t love classic cars merely for their beautiful bodies. We love to drive them as well! We love transporting ourselves back to a bygone era, as we steer our antiquated motors through scenic settings. It’s about the engine note. About feeling the mechanical side of the car. Knowing the engines sweet-spot. Understanding the small quirks of the various components. Slotting the slightly notchy gearbox up a cog. Catching the revs of the engine perfectly as you release the heavy clutch. It’s a physical experience, it’s about connecting with your classic car, and it’s so full of soul and character. Somehow, I just struggle to believe that an electrically powered car – regardless of whether it’s wearing a classic bodyshell or not – will ever be able to capture that same magical feeling. And if I’m right about that, well than they don’t deliver the classic car experience and – to me at least – they can’t really be considered classic cars at all.

 

But what say you, dear ViaRETRO reader? I’m I just being overly conservative? Am I simply a grumpy old man who won’t accept all that is good about the modern world? Should we all rather embrace these bizarre crossbreds of classic and future?

 

4 Responses

  1. jakob356
    Everything about it, even the colour, looks “kit car’y” and cheap, and the BMW joystick wheel (or is it a cup holder?) is just wrong.

    But a nice alternative to a Tesla anyway. I guess the prices are in that area?

    Reply
  2. Rob
    I guess classic cars mean different things to different people. I don’t see them as a means to get from A to B, even if it appears old. It’s about the technology at a point in time, how the engine produced power, the sound, the feeling it imparts to the driver.
    Not only that, an engine should look good; interesting even. The two places people look at in detail at shows are interiors and engine bays. Taking a look at a great man’s creation from Paris in 1964 makes me realise an electric classic car would possess none of the attributes that interest me enough to own or convert one.

    Reply
  3. Claus Ebberfeld
    Anders, you are NOT being overly conservative – but you ARE taking on the role of the little boy in the classic short story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    Of course 100,000 GBP for an MGB makes no sense – especially as it is actually not an MG B at all. Blimey, it’s not even a proper classic car anymore!

    I do understand why manufacturers turn to the classic cars, though – as I wrote back in June they simply make for more interesting electrical cars. I spoke to Jaguar people about it and they suggested the the buyers would not be the usual classic car enthusiasts but younger people new to the scene. In that sense we might actually gain some new prospects here!

    After all they will eventually grasp that their 100,000 GBP MBG doesn’t emit the farty tune that any proper B does nor has four speeds controlled by a proper stick.

    So I am completely with you on this one, Anders. If anyone wants to go electric by all means acquire an electric car. A new Nissan Leaf is 30,000 GBP which leaves you with 70,000 GBP to acquire that Maserati Indy or whatever. A base Tesla S is apparantly double that (never looked into these prices before, but both seem expensive to me!) but would still leave room for a proper MGB and enough exchange to travel the world in it, farty exhaust and all.

    For the enthusiast that’s a no-brainer, really. For others – well,
    the world wants to be deceived.

    Reply
  4. Anders Bilidt
    , I agree fully – the RBW really doesn’t look particularly tasteful and or big money.

    , perfectly formulated! I wrote a whole article, and you just summed it up much better in a mere seven lines and a single picture. But yes, classic cars is all about “the feeling it imparts to the driver”.

    , in a world which currently seems rather obsessed with letting themselves be deceived, I’m proud to play the role of that little boy.

    Reply

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