Rolls Royce
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Turning Your Rolls Royce Into an EV: Using Retrograded EV Conversion Kits for Older and Classic Cars

Many car owners of older and vintage classic cars are considering converting their vehicles to BEVs. Imgine converting a once expensive now older Rolls Royce into an electric car. While conversion is still expensive, it’s still much cheaper to convert to a BEV than to purchase a new EV.
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Here are the benefits of converting an old luxury car into an EV.

  1. No more engine and gasoline tank means goodbye to gas expenses.
  2. EV conversion makes an old car virtually maintenance free.
  3. The car runs more quietly, smoothly, efficiently, and more reliably!

    You can even consider using the car as a daily driver with lower operating
    costs than a new version of the car!

Many of the things we’ll see more often as we go along on this journey of vehicle electrification, is older and vintage collector cars getting EV conversions. As gasoline engines and their resources become more scarce in the ensuing decades, the reasons and option of converting a car from gasoline to electric becomes compelling. And when the conversion is complete, the car runs more quietly, smoothly, efficiently, and more reliably!

Conversion of vintage Rolls-Royce to electric

According to ABC News Australia, Coffs Coast restaurateur Danielle Wallace has a 1971 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow 1 she drives and her family has owned for decades, that she grew up in it.

She always had the mind to convert the car into an electric vehicle, but when she one day saw in a publication a vintage Porsche with an EV conversion, she then knew it had to be done to her Shadow. So she started doing research.

EV Conversion: What it entails on an older Rolls Royce:

Sea Electric of Melbourne is in charge of the electrical retrofitting of Ms. Wallace’s Silver Shadow. But they, like a lot of other places that do this kind of work on vehicles, were weary of doing that to her Shadow. The company specializes in converting larger vehicles Iike vans and delivery trucks into EV vehicles. So Sea is used to doing vans and trucks, not passenger cars. Ms. Wallace had to convince Sea’s managing director, Mr. Tony Fairweather to do the job. They finally gave in. The storied Crewe built 6.75 liter Rolls Royce dual cam naturally aspirated V8 engine and GM 3 speed automatic transmission will be removed, as well as some electrical and fuel lines, exhaust and manifolds. In replacement, an electric motor and 22 kwt high output electric charger are added with a 300 kwt battery inside the bonnet. The car isn’t huge but the engine bay holds a big block 7 liter, so there’s plenty of room.

Value for your money: New EV v. Classic EV conversion:

So while buying a brand new EV car is a much more expensive proposition, an EV conversion on an old gas car is still expensive, and still not performed as often but this is changing. The economies of scale allowed prices for lithium ion batteries and EV motors and equipment to fall much faster than expected! So for the $25,000 it costs to convert the car to electricity, somewhere about the same price point of what a pretty good example of a Silver Shadow costs on the used market, it seems like good value, especially considering how costly repairing a Rolls Royce is, how much gas at 10-13 mph you’ll be saving, with a 28 gallon gas tank removed that barely got you 275 miles on a tank. Hopefully with the 300 kw battery, the old girl will now have a electrical range of about the same: 300 miles!

The whole process takes about a month from parts delivery to final road testing. When finished the electrical car will outperform it’s former self in just about every aspect other than range. And in that in some ways, it’ll become a totally different car.

Older cars fair better as EVs but not always: the reason-the ECU aka Brain:

Some older cars are extremely difficult to convert to an EV. There are many a startup company in Silicone Valley and elsewhere, that were born and died trying to do this. The more computer and electronic components a car has and is connected to some kind of ECU unit, which is the “brain” of the car, the more difficult and expensive the proposition is to do an EV conversion. You not only have to replace the part you no longer need in some cases, but you need to replace it with another OEM part, otherwise what you’re trying to convert won’t work. Sometimes you need to either have the ECU unit reprogrammed, or the new part added, otherwise it won’t work. Sometimes it’ just can’t be done. Because the Silver Shadow is an analog car with no computer, most variants carbureted that the few fuel injected variants weren’t computerized, it makes a perfect candidate for electrification.

There’s also public perception and appearance considerations for such a car when you electrify it. My professional experiences with my clients who owned some kind of Rolls Royce taught me that driving one to show up somewhere, had the extreme range of being somewhat fun to somewhere on the other extreme of being a daunting experience. And I have stories that prove this. There are some places one should never drive a Rolls Royce to, some you wouldn't expect. People will be happy to see your classic car especially since it’s been electrified as opposed to being a gas guzzler for the rich that continues to suck life out of the planet in its old age. See what I mean? So folks will become encouraged as opposed to turned off when they see Ms. Wallace driving such a car around town knowing it doesn’t hurt the environment.

The growing world of “restomods.”

A vintage classic car that underwent an upgraded BEV or fuel source conversion, also known as a “restomod,’ may not hold the same value it once did when all the original components to the car were together. "I think there would be a few who would not approve," veteran local Rolls-Royce dealer David Eckberg told ABC Australia about Ms. Wallace’s Silver Shadow conversion to BEV. But conversions like these surely cause interest at fairs, auto shows, Concourse, and meets. It wouldn’t be surprising if some of the Car Concourse circuits around the world create a category for these kind of cars, so that these cars can once again enter and compete.

Could you imagine? An old Rolls Royce as a daily driver pennies per mile!

What seems most appealing about EV conversions to classic cars like the iconic Silver Shadow, is that you can actually consider using the car as a daily driver, to not worry about gas and maintenance costs, and depend on it being reliable. I know by professional experience that this car is outrageously expensive to repair: $2500 for OEM radiator hoses that require replacement every two years, $4000 for a USED rack and pinion steering rod, and such. Because the cars were hand assembled and limited in production, OEM parts are usually required.

Fabrication need not apply unless you electrify!

What do you think of this Rolls Royce EV conversion?
Do think it’s flying lady will fly?

Let us know in the comments section below!


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Comments

Great article. Not sure about the replacing rad hoses every two years.......as a time served tech but good article. If eV had been available I'd say Royce himself would have been into it big time.
Neil happy new year and thanks for commenting on one of my first articles for Torque News, I’m honored and glad you like. Your comment is poignant and I thank you for getting us all to think. I don’t know about W.O. Bentley as he was a dedicated gearhead but he was also a dedicated racer to understand about horsepower, and if someone laid a path of torque superiority in front of him as a case for electrics, I’m almost sure he would have had at least an open ear. Today, obviously he would have had no choice. Baronet Sir Henry Royce, however, is a different story. He was purely a businessman and a pure entrepreneur, and the case for electrics 100 years hence then, is as a compelling case for electrics now, but Henry Ford was a game changer for the entire industry worldwide, and I don’t know if the two Henrys saw how both were helping each other, but one Henry took care of one end of the market while the other took care of the other. That’s why the blue oval and the Spirit of Ecstacy are both still around!! Electrification should make this all interesting. I know this: I shall miss that 6.75 liter V8. It truly was a British answer to old school Buick as it is ironically so American. It is smooth quiet fast and other than its chinsy paper filters was reliable! It was the car’s 5 hydraulic systems that were not and so expensive to fix, as you know! But many thanks for the comment!
I'm looking into this electrification process for my Shadow as well. Regarding the hose replacements.. I believe it was stated in error. Fee The brake and hydraulic hoses are an expensive proposition every 6 years 14 or need to be replaced. As well as various brake and height control hydraulics components need to be torn down and have new seals installed.A labor of love for some.
Congrats on your Shadow, perhaps the best Rolls Royce ever made, especially when wrapping things up 77-80. There are a lot of models Rolls made over the years, even Bentleys that I’m more partial to, but the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s the car most people my age identify as being the Rolls Royce we all always knew of, over the years, and not this thing they call a Phantom!. When we see a Shadow or LWB Wraith as it’s called on the road today, the few still out there, it truly is like the Queen in her State Car, a sight to behold. Please, please, please let me know if you decide to electrify, I’d like to do a story: [email protected] As for the conversion: With all that lead in the car for coaching customization welding, the biggest issue with Shadow conversion is range. It’s not a humongous car, but it is awfully heavy at almost 6,000 lbs and of course it’s not areodynamic nor sleek. The price we pay for being stately! So unless you did or are willing to do a complete repainting restoration to get rid of all the lead, and that’s a $35,000+ proposition, you might have to live with it and a 150+/- mile range. But the battery tech has improved since I was last told this. If you live near the California area and aren’t sure where to go I may be able to help with some suggestions. I’m pretty sure recommended upper and lower hose replacement was every two years. I remember the story that is now one for the ages, coming out of the bar to see and hear the car literally explode with a steam plume! The price may now be different if not more, as that was 13 years ago, my lord. Double check for your benefit. Shadows like to be burped like babies after refilling with antifreeze. Gently kneel on the front bumper on one side, push down, and the flow willl level. If I can help. Anywhere please let me know!
Does anyone ever read the owners manual anymore? I could be wrong if my memory doesn’t serve me but I do remember sitting in the car and reading that book cover to cover and I do remember an upper and lower red hose replacement on a silver shadow for every two years and costing an astronomical amount of money. But I’ve gotten much older that was 13 years ago when I did that. Regardless this phenomena I find interestingly ironic because Tesla owners suffer from the same problem, and anyone buying electric really should Be reading their owners manual as an electric car is a completely separate edit entirely different inventions in the gasoline car. Y’all been warned.
I was reading Classic Cars and decided to google on how to electrify RR for some reason... Here we are, fantastic! There are lots of great makes to give a second life.
I have a 78 RR SSII that I rarely drive. Maybe a conversion to EV would make it a daily driver since I don't drive very far on a daily basis. Do you know of anyone on the Florida Space Coast who would have the knowledge to do such a conversion?
Hello Joe. Although the market for post manufacture legacy vehicle BEV conversions is about to explode, it’s still in its infancy and niche. If you want a reputable experienced shop to touch your vintage Rolls Royce, expect to have the car shipped out of state. Here’s a link to 13 popular BEV conversion shops I found on the web. I haven’t vetted them so be careful: https://www.thoughtco.com/electric-vehicle-ev-conversion-companies-85249. Some of these companies only like to work on specific kinds of cars and generally it’s about taking the path of least resistance. The most ideal gasoline cars that make perfect candidates for BEV conversions are the ones that are smaller lightweight and easy to work under and in the boot bonnet or hood. Unfortunately as you very well know Rolls-Royce products including Bentleys or not such vehicles. But idealistically as an electric car a vintage Rolls-Royce or Bentley would make an ideal BEV, especially when it’s used for local driving and as a daily driver. As I mentioned above because the car is so laden with lead for coaching and has heavy hydraulic systems that makes the car weigh 6000 pounds you should expect the range to be absolutely horrible. If a classic Ford mustang as a BEV can only reach a sweet spot of a range of approximately 150 to 200 miles or so and not anything further, I can only imagine what a typical range may be for a Rolls-Royce silver shadow or Bentley T series, or any Rolls-Royce products late 20th century for that matter. So if I were you I would continue shopping around nationwide pay less attention to local shops. Try to find a conversion shop that has experience doing the conversions and preferably experience with RR and Bentley. One of the things that you might consider is using a battery pack that’s better suited for a truck. There’s a good chance you may lose all your trunk space but with a big boot a shadow has you might actually be able to drive on a long distance trip with your vintage car. The ion battery industry is now entering a very sweet spot with these three to 500 mile ranges is that gives you a decent chance that you were vintage ROLLS will have a decent range. Another thing that you might consider is wait until the solid-state batteries come out when Sir James Dyson ramps up his two Dyson solid-state battery vehicles very soon, that’s when you’ll know The ASTOR market is gearing up to sell OEM solid-state batteries for conversion cars. There is a third option to all of you out there should consider. And that’s using a battery tray service to replace or install a new battery to a new BEV conversion. Fēnix Systems is one such company that can install an appropriate battery for your Rolls, and if leased, you never have to worry about replacement as long as you own the car!