Regular readers to DTW may already know the special plinth on which this site places the 1997 film Gattaca. You will not be surprised then that I might try to hang an article off a reference to this kinematographic production.
Apart from a memorable performance by Ernest Borgnine and equally impressive editing by Lisa Zeno Churgin, the movie features some elegant classic cars. These fitted into the retro-futuristic style of the film: a Rover P6, a Citroen DS and a Studebaker Avanti. The schtick with these retromodded beauties which glide through various scenes in the film is that they are electric: nice bodies with electric hearts.
Twenty-two years later, this idea of retrofitting electric motors to classic cars is being made real in Wales. Electric Classic Cars can either convert a classic for customers or supply the parts for owners to do it themselves. Aston Martin have done it too. And Jaguar Land Rover have a department gutting E-types for refitting with lots of AA batteries.
This site (in blue – click on it) discusses the pros and cons but is short on who does it. This site looks at the matter as well and concludes that conversions may work for front engined RWD sports cars but that more efficiently packaged (and so more recent) ICE cars will be much harder to do.
I will now effortlessly move from this focus on electrified classics to the production of new cars, leading us to modern-day County Wicklow, Ireland.
Electric Classic Cars is now part-owned by Crowley Carbon Group, an energy-efficiency consultant. Crowley Carbon has invested in the Electric Classic Cars business as a way to get a foothold in electic vehicle production but the long-term plan is to make electric cars from the ground up but “styled after automotive icons” and using Tesla powertrain technology.
The base for this endeavour is in the Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow, Ireland. As far as I can determine from the website Electrifi, a Crowley Carbon subsidiary, this conversion of classic cars is also taking place in Wicklow. The plans go further. If it proceeds as expected, cars that look like classics but which are electrically propelled will be roaming around Ireland but most will be destined for export.
All of this raises some interesting questions about design, form and function. It is also a reversal of fortune for the ROI since car production has been absent from its shores for 40 years.
I shall endeavour to follow up this intriguing subject when I back in Ireland in July if I can visit Electrifi’s operation in Wicklow.