Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin learned a lot about electric technology while developing a battery-powered variant of the Rapide sport sedan. It’s now applying some of these lessons to the world of classic cars in order to offer enthusiasts a zero-emissions alternative to carburetors.

The central component of the electric powertrain is what Aston Martin refers to as an EV cassette. It’s a lithium-ion battery pack that’s attached to the body via the original engine and transmission mounts, meaning there’s no need to cut or weld anything under the sheet metal. The battery pack zaps the electric motor via wires, just like it does in a modern-day electric car. Aston also integrates a screen to the interior to let the driver keep an eye on the power management in real time.

To demonstrate what it’s capable of, the firm installed its electric powertrain into a 1970 DB6 MKII Volante (pictured). It looks fully stock — it even keeps its exhaust system even though it no longer needs it. There’s no word on how the electric conversion affects performance and handling, however, and Aston Martin hasn’t provided technical specifications. Digital Trends learned from a spokesperson that the EV cassette will be a weight-neutral replacement for the internal combustion engine. It will deliver a quicker zero-to-60-mph time, and match the original car’s top speed of 120 mph.

“Driving a classic Aston Martin on pure [electric] power is a unique experience and one that will no doubt be extremely attractive to many owners, especially those who live in city centers. We also foresee collectors adding another dimension to their collection by commissioning EV-converted heritage cars,” explained Paul Spires, the president of Aston Martin Works.

Aston Martin noted the conversion is reversible, so owners can return their car to its original configuration at any time. The company claimed it’s the first firm to offer a reversible electric car conversion, but that’s not entirely accurate. The E-Type Zero that Jaguar introduced in 2017 can be converted back to gasoline, too.

Classic car enthusiasts who want to drive electric will be able to commission the conversion starting in 2019. Aston will perform all of the work in-house, so owners will presumably need to ship their car to the company’s headquarters. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet. Aston Martin told Digital Trends the powertrain is modular. It was designed to replace the six-cylinder engine in a variety of models including the DB4, the DB5, the DB6, and the DBS.

Buyers who would rather drive a more modern electric Aston will need to hope they can get their hands on one of the 150 examples of the Rapide E.

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