I recently spoke to one of those specialist firms that convert classic cars into EVs, which is basically sacrilege. It was an interesting chat, and it turns out to be good business, especially as prices start at £25,000.
Seems like a waste of a finite resource to me. And although old cars can break down often, that’s a high price to pay for reliability. Also, classics don’t usually do that many miles. If the idea is to electrify them for everyday usability, which is how it was sold to me, we must all be doing something wrong. Either that or we have less money but more common sense than the EV early adopters.
The thing is, £25,000 will buy you the most interesting modes of personal transportation in the world, none of which need a three-pin plug.
I started with Toyota and was going after something sporty but became very distracted by the wonderful FJ Cruiser. Compared with the average uninteresting SUV, this grey import really is a Tonka toy for grown-ups. A specialist had a 2012 example in super-bright orange for £24,750. It was being marketed as an alt-Defender but without the complication and all the retro appeal. Also, Toyota stopped making the FJ Cruiser a couple of years ago.
Then I found myself deep down the Alpina rabbit hole, which contains some of the most stone-cold rarities around. A modest five-figure sum also buys BMWs from the time when BMWs were still truly handsome and desirable. These were the ultimate driving machines and then some.
So I was tempted, especially as a 2000 B10 Touring was on offer for just £10,995. Apparently there were just 12 of these made in right-hand drive. It had done more than 150,000 miles and had been in storage, but there was a ton of history and it was being sold by a dealer, for whom there are obligations. Pretty, practical and a hoot to drive: that’s perfect, surely?
Jaguar doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, admittedly, but it seems the time has come for the XJS. It looks so ’70s, was at home in the ’80s and lived into the ’90s, and from there much of it survived into the XK, so you can easily get all of the parts, even for the V12.
I was therefore excited to discover a 1986 XJS-C with less than 80,000 miles and plenty of random bills for £12,995. It seemed to be on the button, although I inferred from reading between the lines of the advert that it was a part-exchange, so perhaps it would need some fettling. Not £13,000’s worth, though.
So, before leaping into the brave new world of electrifying classics, consider that there’s so much fun to be had enjoying what’s already out there – sometimes with a V8 or V12.