The UK start-up saving classic cars from the landfill by converting them to electric

Classic motoring enthusiasts will still be able to keep their cars on the road thanks to a company in the UK that’s giving them a 21st-century makeover.

According to the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there are 40 million vehicles on UK roads.

Many of these are now in conflict with the UK government’s green thinking plans. UK Government advisors said that 46 per cent of cars in the UK need to be electric by 2030 to meet the UK’s climate goals. And motorists are already being given up to £2,000 (€2,345) to scrap their older polluting cars.

However, a start-up in the UK has launched to stop classic motors from going to the landfill.

At its headquarters in central London, London Electric Cars has been switching petrol-guzzling engines in Rover Minis, Land Rovers and Morris Minors to clean power.

Launched by founder Matthew Quitter, 44, the innovative start-up is converting vintage cars to zero-emission vehicles with the help of upcycled Nissan Leaf and Tesla batteries.

The Tesla ‘skateboard’ chassis including batteries, motor and suspension (Image: Tesla Motors)

The Tesla ‘skateboard’ chassis including batteries, motor and suspension (Image: Tesla Motors)

“I saw that companies in California were converting cars and at the time there was no one in the UK doing this,” said Quitter.

3D printers and lithium ion cells
Quitter started in 2017 by converting his own 1953 Morris Minor with the help of nine prismatic lithium-ion cells. He now has a team of 10 who work on the conversions.

As each makeover is bespoke, it can take up to six months to convert a car and the price of a conversion starts at £25,000 (€29,326). However, as electric cars are exempt from congestion fees or road tax in the UK, owners only need to pay for electricity, which means they can drive around the city of London from £1 (€1.17) a week.

While Quitter’s engineers work with 3D printers and lithium-ion cells, they try to keep the majority of the fixtures and fittings of the classic cars intact.

“One of the things we try to do is maintain the cars as much as possible for historical integrity,” said Quitter. “Things like the indicators are a little less consistent than say a modern car. But for most classic car owners that’s the quirkiness that they enjoy”.

The fact that vintage cars don’t come with modern trappings such as power steering or sat navs made the conversion more affordable because there is less labour involved.

Minis and Land Rovers feature largely in the team’s makeovers, although more unique cars have also passed through its garage in Lambeth. The engineers have given a new lease of life to a Lancia B2, Bentley T2 and a converted London Taxi formerly owned by business magnate Nubar Gulbenkian for the Peninsula Hotel Group.

Electronics entrepreneur and classic car enthusiast Roy Campbell, 69, was delighted when he realised he could combine his two passions. He bought a 1970s Bond Bug, which London Electric Cars fitted with a Tesla battery in February 2021.

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