Electromod Blends Past and Future

Latest automotive trend consists of restoring classic cars on the outside while replacing their powertrain for an electric one. Electromod is a new take on the restomod trend

Classic cars have a special place in the heart of all enthusiasts. Some simply admire from a distance while others go ahead and start a whole collection of them. And, of course, there are several cases in between. Automakers have given access to historical information and created restoration divisions, but fans still deserve most of the credit; they are who really makes the effort to preserve this part of history.

Historically, fans have committed to restoring classic cars as precisely as possible. It usually takes a lot of effort to find genuine parts; a lot of money to manufacture parts they cannot buy; and a lot of money to fund all that. Over time, some of them have embraced the restomod trend, where that work comes with some conceptual twists. More recently, the latter has changed yet again and now goes by “electromod”.

The Lancia Delta Integrale Evo has received electromod changes from the GCK Exclusive-e company
GCK Exclusiv-e restored an example of the Lancia Delta Integrale last year (source: Carscoops)

First, what is restomod?

Part of it is the action of restoring a classic car to impeccable comfort, performance and safety conditions. The other part regards changing it in some way; Bullet Motorsports has sold a Corvette SportWagon in an auction; Singer has made its name by reinterpreting vintage Porsche 911 cars and so on. There have been countless examples, each one with a unique image. Putting that to practice is often extremely complex.

Some fans consider it heretic to modify a classic car while others simply adore such challenges. More than that, they love the possibilities they have. A common restomod case is to make a body style that the base car never officially had. However, there are also people who venture into the retromod; that is changing a modern car to give it the appearance of a classic one. The latter is the case of this Dodge Challenger.

As you can imagine, it is much harder to restomod than to restore. The car owner must combine historical data with a whole new project for the modified parts. In most cases, such work requires CAD work and the manufacture of many exclusive parts; there are tuning shops which specialize in it. Nevertheless, if you are thinking that this complexity would deter fans from going further… You will surely want to keep reading.

The F-150 Eluminator is a rare case of electromod applied to a pickup truck
Ford took the all-new F-150 Lightning as an opportunity to venture into electromod with the Eluminator concept (source: Ford)

Now, what is electromod?

That term blends restoration, tuning and electrification. To be more specific, it consists of restoring classic cars and adapting them to electric powertrains. The first time I saw that term was when Opel released the concept car of the first photo; the company restored the Manta and gave it a modern makeover with the electric twist. That electromod received high praise for its effort to preserve the coupĂ©’s visual identity.

Nissan has used electromod on the Bluebird hatchback, which used to be sold in Europe in the 1980s.

More than celebrate electrification, we can say that this trend aims to normalize it. Companies have finally made enough progress with electric cars in terms of performance and energy management; making them mainstream is now mostly a matter of managing supply and production costs. While people have already started to embrace them, actions like electromod help make electric cars part of their everyday culture.

Now, if you are wondering about execution complexity, there are no Herculean tasks here. In general, the electromod trend focuses on electrifying the same car rather than modifying it. Any difficulties come from the fact that the base project never considered electric propulsion; it is necessary to perform big changes in terms of installing the electric motor and its transmission. Let us take a closer look at some examples.

Mini embraced electromod for the first time in 2018, when it presented an electric Cooper at the NY Auto Show
In 2018, Mini showed an electrified Cooper hatchback at the New York Auto Show (source: WheelsAge)

Electromod as concept cars

Nowadays, the industry is investing millions to develop new technologies and make EVs efficient enough for everyday use. However, when it comes to actually convincing people to buy a car, technical data is not enough. The best sales happen when people want to buy that specific product and companies know that. They are learning that electromod can be a valuable resource to demystify electric cars to the masses.

The simple fact of using a classic car yields great feedback. Fans love when automakers cherish their past beyond generic posts on social channels. Seeing them go all the way to restore one to pristine condition is even better; who would be better qualified than the company that made it in the first place? The photos above show electromod cars which Opel, Ford, Nissan, Mini and Jaguar showed over the past few years.

Those actions show automakers’ commitment to electrification; it is not something you can only get from independent tuners. That makes people much more confident to consider electric cars in the near future. Mini is an interesting case here; it went ahead and started the Recharged project following the success of its one-off electromod. It is an official team that will convert classic Cooper cars to electric propulsion.

Everrati specializes in electromod, especially when it comes to classic models (source: Everrati)

Independent tuning companies

Automakers make the news more often only because they are larger; the electromod trend first appeared thanks to independent tuners like Electrogenic and Everrati. After all, they have always executed bespoke projects, so electrifying cars is nothing new to them. Then again, none of that means that their job is easy. On the contrary, being open to work with any car means they have to understand a little of them all.

Installing an electric powertrain naturally implies making deep changes to the car; the goal is to integrate them to the car’s character. For example, Everrati selected a setup of moderate output for the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” to preserve its charming nature. On the other hand, GCK Exclusive e has electrified the Lancia Delta Integrale Evo keeping its manual gearbox; after all, it has a vast performance history.

In other words, those companies need to work on both the technical and the conceptual sides. Shoving a random electric motor just because it is powerful would deface the car’s image; it would be like low-grade tuning projects where the car becomes unrecognizable. These projects are definitely not cheap or fast to execute, but they are really worth the investment. They even attract companies’ attention here and there.

German company Elantrie has developed a conversion kit for the Lada Niva and the Dacia Sandero (source: Elantrie)

Electric car conversion

There is another topic which one could mistake for electromod. Conversion kits consist of replacing the regular powertrain for an electric one and doing the necessary adaptations. Elantrie, whose modified Niva appears above, is only one of those companies; they have existed for some time, but are becoming more popular now that electric propulsion is on the rise. These are strictly technical changes, not electromod.

Their main advantage is going straight to the point. That makes them simpler to execute and cheaper, so more people can afford them. In fact, they are ideal for the current times, when gas and diesel prices are rising so fast. On the other hand, they have nothing to do with the car’s image; they are usually available for older car models. After all, they are mechanically simpler and no longer have warranty to be voided.

Now that you learned about electromod, you are ready to enjoy one of the latest trends in the car world. Over the next years, we can expect to see many electrified models like those, especially classic ones. The best works manage to reinterpret their personalities in the modern times rather than creating something entirely new. What classic car would you absolutely love to see making part of this automotive trend?

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