Classic car EV conversions are a relatively new thing; a service driven by the desire to keep classic vehicles on our roads amid ever more stringent CO2 rulings. With the UK planning to phase out the sale of new petrol vehicles by 2030, the owners of classic vehicles are rightly concerned about what the future may hold and in need of workable solutions fast if classic vehicles are to continue to be a sight for sore eyes on our roads.
We’ve seen various options spring up over the past few years that offer drop-in conversions for various classic cars and prestige gas-guzzlers, thus immunising them from the march towards zero emissions. The latest most welcome recruitment to this army is courtesy of London Electric Cars (LEC) and their solution for the A-Series classic Mini, which joins LEC’s existing Morris Minor, Land Rover and Morris Traveller EV conversion line-up.
With a tiny electric motor and a 20kWh battery, this isn’t going to turn your A-Series into a car that you can drive without some compromise; it will effectively turn a small classic car into a city run-around with a range of 70 miles. Though if you protest enough, LEC will remove your Mini back seats to enable the installation of a 40kWh battery.
LEC are using reclaimed Nissan Leaf batteries that sit under the rear seat of the Mini and partly in the boot. Of course, a car with such a diminutive wheelbase as that of the classic Mini is always going to cause problems with any aftermarket fitments, unless you are willing to compromise a huge amount of precious space. You might of course argue that you have never seen a Mini with more than 2 people inside due to the cramped rear anyway, and if that’s your stance – then the 40kWh battery beckons.
The advantages of using Leaf batteries is that both Type 1 and 2 charging points can be used as well as a basic three pin UK plug (I often walk past a Nissan Leaf clumsily parked on the grass with a lead heading through the little top window). A big bonus of course (if practical) would be to have access to a 7kW charger which amounts to running your classic A-Series Mini EV from as little as about 5 pence per mile on a 3-hour full charge (it’s 6-hours to capacity on a standard plug).
The Nissan Leaf – partly chosen due to it being more sustainable than creating an LEC powertrain from scratch – also donates the electric motor which will comfortably occupy the space at the front where the original engine would normally be. While you might have read this far and baulked at the range, the electric motor is configured for the Leaf of course, so therefore gives your classic Mini a boost to 107bhp – it’s all about the power to weight ratio. A further boost will give you a decent 148bhp if you opt for a special request fitting of the motor from a later second-gen Nissan Leaf. If you factor in the range and accept that your classic Mini is now more of a short run city car as intended, then this should make it a joy to drive.
Now for the eye watering bit: you didn’t expect this to be a cheap job to carry out, but you may not be prepared for a cost of £25,000 for the basic standard conversion. Jump that up to £30,000 for the 33kWh conversion – more if you ask LEC to find a donor car for you as well, though it does pretty much future-proof your Mini. In any case, since when did owning and running a classic car come cheap?
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Image credits: autoexpress.co.uk, autocar.co.uk
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