Last week, we wrote a feature about five classics that are ripe for an electric conversion. This of course sparked quite the response, including one email that read “you are a bunch of philistines just considering this butchery.” Which was, you know, nice to read. But hey, the notion of plucking the internally combusted means of propulsion from a classic in favour of a box of Duracell bunnies is always going to cause some debate. But here’s the thing. That list of five cars was carefully curated by our editor. Those five cars were not famed for their engines. In fact, their engines were all a bit, well, average. But the way these cars look, the way they ride, the way they are engineered. That’s worth saving. And electric power could be the perfect way to do it. These cars would become silent cruise ships of the road, gliding along, hugging trees, making Extinction Rebellion smile.
The bottom line is that electric classics are always going to cause arguments. And in a way, that’s fine. Debate is healthy after all. But love them or hate them, the fact remains that they are becoming an increasingly valuable part of the classic car world. And if done right, by which we mean using cars that suit the conversion, they deserve a home within our fold. Romance and glasses of a rose tint can skew people into thinking old cars were perfect. They weren’t, and the epicentre of that imperfectness is often the engine. Not for environmental reasons, but because not every engine is a good engine. Rover V8? Good. Citroën DS 1,985cc four-pot? Not so much.
And that leads us neatly onto the car we’re looking at here. It seems we were onto something by suggesting the Citroën DS as the perfect machine for electrification because that’s exactly what the talented team at Electrogenic has done. It looks like any other (well cared for) DS, but underneath you will find no means by which to ignite liquified dinosaurs. Instead, Electrogenic has removed the car’s original 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and replaced it with a ‘Hyper9’ brushless electric motor. This produces 120bhp, allied with 235Nm of instant torque – both of which are substantial increases over the original. Power is delivered to the front wheels through the car’s existing manual gearbox.
Look deeper, and you’ll find a 48.5kWh battery, offering a real-world range of approximately 140 miles on every charge. The car is fitted with a 29kW charger, which will charge the batteries in around two hours. Both the battery size and charger type can be tailored to suit the type of driving an owner will use it for. An optional ‘range extender’ battery provides customers the choice to extend the range of the car to over 200 miles. Which is ample, because when are you honestly likely to drive it further in one sitting? And if you are for some reason doing 30k miles per year, you can still buy a petrol DS. Nobody is stopping you.
But what about the suspension, we hear you cry. Well, it’s actually better than standard. It’s still the familiar bright green ‘alien blood’ hydro-pneumatic we all know and love, but now with a more modern, silent pump. It turns out the clatter of the engine masked the noise of the original one, and in a now-silent car, that wouldn’t do. Electrogenic engineers instead created a new silent unit, which is perfect as it leans even further into the quality ride offered by the DS.
Steve Drummond, Director and Co-Founder of Electrogenic said “Repowering classic cars with all-electric drive brings a number of benefits, from ease of use to reliability and performance gains. But with our conversions, the aim is always to enhance the original characteristics of the car. In this respect, the Citroen DS was ideally suited to an electric conversion – the silent powertrain adds to the serene driving experience and fits perfectly with the character of the car.”
Ian Newstead, Director and Co-Founder of Electrogenic added “It seems right to use modern technology to future-proof a car that was so far ahead of its time when it came out in the 1950s. Our conversion breathes new life into the DS and means that future generations can continue to enjoy its charm for decades to come.
“As with all first-time conversions, the DS presented us with unique challenges. In this case, adapting the hydro-pneumatic suspension to run without the combustion engine. The old pump was so noisy that it detracted from the silent drive of the car, but our new electric pump solved the issue completely. As with every conversion, the DS has added further to our knowledge of converting beautiful classics.”
So how much does it cost? Well, we don’t know. This car hasn’t been built as a future offering. Instead, it has been built to a customer’s specification, and as such, the price remains with them. This is more an example of what can be done, and how we can bring modern technology into the classic car world as we go forward. And honestly, we adore it. This is the perfect car for this kind of conversion. The DS was already a car from the future when it was launched – there’s pleasing poetry in one being used to showcase more future technology.
Look, electric classics aren’t for everyone, and we get that. But remember, nobody is making you buy them, nor is anyone going to sneak into your garage at night and steal your engine. This is very much a case of ‘buyer prerogative’. Companies like Electrogenic are there to serve these desires, and it seems they’re doing an exceptional job. EV technology is not the enemy, it is an option. And one that in this instance, has been executed exceptionally well indeed.