Cars & Auto

Converting Classic Cars Into Electric Vehicles for Collectors (and Investors)

Owning a classic car can be a real rush for the owners. Those classic cars from the 1970s and even back to before the 1960s can sure turn a lot of heads and start a lot of conversations. For collectors who own these classic cars, there is an ongoing debate whether owning a classic car is as a vanity show piece or as an investment.

One issue in the modern era is that the trends toward electric vehicles might make some classic car owners worry about their emissions. Sure, the miles driven may be negligible but these cars were generally produced in an era where there were no environmental cares. And some of the fears way back then might have even been about global cooling when these cars were made rather than the warming fears of today.

The rise of Tesla and with electrification coming from Ford, GM, Toyota, VW and just about every other carmaker, what happens if and when classic car buyers want to retrofit their classic car into electric vehicles. Many collectors want all original parts native to that car-make of the same year. Others could care less and just want the shell of the classic car.

First and foremost, buying a classic car is not for the timid and those operating on thin budgets. On top of the cost of the vehicle, there is the monthly cost of insurance and storage, there is also maintenance and repairs that will have to be made. These cars also have to be driven or turned on from time to time to prevent settling and neglect.

Buying a new Tesla Model S will start above $70,000 and can easily go much higher, and a smaller Tesla Model 3 order will start under $40,000. Other electric cars can be purchased for costs under that of the Tesla models. Classic cars can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even above $1 million), but classic cars do not have to cost that much — and the cost of turning a gas-guzzler into an electric vehicle may not be as much as some might guess.

Some hobbyists who get into classic cars like to buy a good fixer-upper. These might need interior and exterior work, or they might need entire engine overhauls or replacements. Either way, there are some classic cars that can purchased for under $10,000 and under $20,000 — and many of those can be somewhat easily converted into electric vehicles.

There are many websites that sell classic cars. The site specializes in them, And offers their “Classics on AutoTrader” site. There are countless selections of cars on these platforms but some of the issue around electrifying these classics may depend on a buyer’s geography based on being able to get the car converted. Classic cars can also routinely be found on Facebook and on Craigslist for prices that may seem shockingly low.

The MotorTrend website wrote about options for converting your classic car into an EV. They featured the Chevy eCrate which fits in with GM’s electrification future, they featured California-based EV West and Texas-based Moment Motors for conversions. The website for Moment Motors offers some direct cost estimates of its CL (classic line) as $50,000 to $150,000 and $70,000 to $100,000 for its R (for replicas) line.

According to the site, about $15,000 is the cheapest conversion to electric but it also noted some kits costing closer to $10,000. The AxleAddict site suggested that costs may run $8,000 to $11,000. The website GreenshedConversions offers a price range of $4,500 to $6,200 for basic parts, (motor, controller, contactor, charger, etc.) but this is going to vary wildly depending on the mile range a buyer wants.

There can always be a big debate about whether classic cars are an investment or a vanity hobby. The cost of electrifying an old gas-guzzler may be prohibitive to being considered an investment that can be sold at a profit, but then again it all just depends upon what the next buyer is willing to pay for a car that they just cannot live without.

One last note is that electrifying a classic car may be the only way to assure it will have value in the decades ahead. Classic cars of prior generations are probably not going to be taxed and regulated out of existence over the next decade or two. That said, electrifying a classic car may assure that it is allowed to drive on the roads for years into the future.

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