A California-based company that specialises in bespoke electric conversions of classic vintage cars has won high praise for its latest effort – a 1968 Irish Green Porsche 912 – from one of America’s biggest champions of electric vehicle technology, Jay Leno.
The longtime EV champion, owner of hundreds of cars, and former Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, showcased and test drove the Zeletric converted Porsche on the most recent episode of his YouTube series Jay Leno’s Garage.
After a long and informative interview with Zeletric’s David Bernardo and Trent Wonsley, Leno takes the Porsche for a spin around the streets of LA at about the half-way mark of the video, at the end of which he declares it to be “one of the best electric cars I’ve ever driven.” And he’s driven a lot of them.
It’s high praise coming from Leno, but perhaps not surpising, considering – as is explained in detail during the first part of the video – that the converted Porsche has been retrofitted with a Tesla drive train, taken from a dismantled Model S.
This, plus a 32kWh battery pack (you can see all of the specs in the sheet copied in at the bottom of the story) divided between the front and rear of the car, and a rear-wheel drive, packed into a 2500 pound (1134kg) car makes for what Leno describes as a “fun” and authentic ride.
“You know I gotta say this is one of the best electric cars I’ve ever driven,” says Leno at the end of about 15 minutes of driving.
“Even better than the original … because, (a) it’s two-wheel drive, which is what I like, [and (b)]…I like the fact you’ve got all this power with the two-wheel drive …[in] a 2500 pound car. That’s amazing.”
“Yeah, it’s an electric hot rod, you know,” responds Zelectric’s Wonsley, who is his co-pilot on the test drive. “It gives you all that power to play with … just like original hot rodders did with gas engines.
Adds Leno: “Well, you’ve done an excellent job, guys. It’s really fun. And it’s nice that you’ve kept the spirit and the ethos of the whole Porsche thing… just supplying the power a little bit differently – and dare I say better.”
Leno, who owns and loves many hundreds of ICE cars, has gone on the record regularly with his view that electric vehicles are the future for mobility – particularlly for passenger vehicles.
“I predict a child born today probably has as much chance of driving in a gas car as people today have driving a car with a stick shift,” he said in a recent interview. “They’ll still be around. There’s just not many of them.”
Among his personal electric car fleet is a Tesla Model S, which he told the same interviewer (two years ago) that he had had for three years and “never done anything” to it.
“There’s no fluids to change. There’s nothing. You know, for new technology to succeed, it can’t be equal. It’s got to be better. …There’s no maintenance. They’re faster than the gas car. So there’s almost no reason to have a gas car.”
After test driving Zelectric’s converted Porsche, a love of vintage motors might be another reason that can be scratched from the pro-petrol-cars list.
As you can see from the photos, Zelectric has done an incredible job with the conversion of the Porsche, including the addition of a barely distinguishable solar array on the rear of the car (pictured below) which trickle-charges the car’s 12-volt accessories battery.
It’s worth watching the video to hear all the fascinating details on how and why the team used the components and measures it did to take the old Porche to electric, including its strong appreciation of Tesla drive trains and battery technology, which Leno describes as “eight years ahead” of the rest of the industry.
As for what the Porsche faithful might think of coverting a 912 to electric, Leno notes that Zelectric’s highly respectful and uninvasive approach to conversions means that it can be easliy reversed, and a petrol motor dropped back in. But then why would you bother?
“I have a lot of modified cars here, and I’ll put disc brakes on them, and do a few other things. If you wanted to really go back to drum brakes, sure, I guess you could if you wanted to.”