In Brief

Aston Martin creates reversible electric classic cars

The 1970 DB6 Volante previews the British marque’s battery technology

The electric car seems to be on a path to world domination and this has some classic car owners worried. 

While many of the machines of the 1960s and ’70s boast timeless designs penned by Italian coach builders, their noisy, high-polluting engines simply don’t meet the standards of today’s emission-restricted petrol motors and EVs.

But instead of consigning its classic cars to the history books, Aston Martin has unveiled plans to bring its heritage models up to date. These newly-converted cars will retain the iconic aesthetics of old.

“We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come”, says company chief Andy Palmer.

Max Earey

The company’s plan is to mitigate any future legislation by replacing the engines in its heritage models with electric motors and batteries. 

Using technology derived from Aston Martin’s yet-to-be-released RapidE electric car, the British carmaker will swap the original motors of donor vehicles with battery electric systems. 

Aston Martin refers to the technology as a “cassette” powertrain because the electric motor is enclosed in its own shell and this doesn’t affect the car’s original gearbox or electrical system. 

But the company is well aware that the engine is often seen as the heart and soul of any classic machine. Therefore the process is designed to be completely reversible. 

The electric motor and battery system sits on top of the car’s original engine. This means customers can ask Aston Martin to temporarily remove the electric cassette system for concours d’elegance events and historic motor races. 

Aston Martin has demonstrated the technique using a DB6 MKII Volante from 1970, which looks almost indistinguishable from a conventional combustion-engine powered alternative. 

Max Earey

Only the charging port above the rear wheels, along with the power management display discreetly installed in the cabin, are different. 

Paul Spires, head of Aston Martin Works, the division that carries out the battery modifications, said: “Driving a classic Aston Martin on pure EV power is a unique experience and one that will no doubt be extremely attractive to many owners, especially those who live in city centres”.

He added: “We also foresee collectors adding another dimension to their collection by commissioning EV-converted heritage cars”. 

There’s no word on how much the battery system will cost. Given that classic Aston Martins can sell for millions of pounds, the process is unlikely to be an inexpensive one.

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