Should Australia’s fleet of classic cars be converted to electric? Jaguar thinks so, with plans to produce an all-electric classic E-type – the Zero – from 2020.
Jaguar announced the new version of the iconic 1960s’ roadster earlier this month, following on the heels of the one-off electric E-type driven by Prince Harry as he ferried new wife Megan Markle from Windsor Castle to their wedding reception.
The UK is no stranger to electric conversions of classics with several specialists across the country taking petrol engines out and replacing them with clean electric motors, and it seems to be a booming industry.
But many purists may disagree. After all, what makes a classic car classic is in large part the bits under the bonnet. Or is the exterior lines?
Australia and New Zealand have a large classic car following, bigger than most other countries per capita, so is the time right for cleaner classics, or does classic mean just that?
The Zero will use technology from Jaguar’s latest electric production car, the I-Pace SUV, so out goes the straight six cylinder petrol unit – one of the smoothest sixes ever, it should be said – to be replaced with 40-kwh lithium battery.
The power unit takes up the same space and has about the same weight as the original petrol six, so the E-type’s decent handling should not be affected.
The Zero will also keep the original brakes and suspension, which simplifies the conversion and preserves a degree of originality.
Jaguar will build the Zero at its Classic Works restoration shop alongside other classic Jaguars it restores for customers.
“Future-proofing the enjoyment of classic car ownership is a major stepping stone for Jaguar Classic,” Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director Tim Hannig said.
“E-type Zero showcases the incredible heritage of the E-type…while demonstrating Jaguar Land Rover’s dedication to creating zero emission vehicles across every part of the business, including Jaguar Classic.”
Jaguar is being careful to ensure that the electric modifications to the classic E-type are reversible. E-types are among the most collectible classic cars, and many owners want historically correct museum pieces to show future generations, or the authentic 1960s’ driving experience, rather than a blend of the latest 2018 technology.
No performance figures have been released yet but Jaguar says it is targeting 170 miles (around 280km) of range and says the Zero will have quicker acceleration than the original car. A charge will take six to seven hours on a Level 2 charger.
An optional centre touchscreen will replace the classic E-type’s row of switches and dials across the dashboard.
Jaguar is seeking deposits for the E-type Zero starting last weekend, but won’t say how much the conversion or the cars will cost.
So, what do you think? Is the cleaner all-electric Jaguar a goer, or should classic cars complete with the smell of high octane petrol be left alone?
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.