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Muscle Car EV Conversions: Sacrilegious or a Necessary Evil?
We're petrolheads around these parts, we like V8s, we adore forced induction, and we pray not to Abrahamic gods but to the holy spirits of Shelby, Hennessey, and Mopar. So we took things pretty darn hard when it became obvious silent electric cars were the path to the future.

Muscle Car EV Conversions: Sacrilegious or a Necessary Evil?

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Believe us when we tell you, we understand and sympathize with the sentiment of "You'll take my V8s and my turbos from my cold, rotting hands." But there comes the point where no amount of wishful thinking can stave off the coming hoard of truth. Gas cars are going the way of the dinosaur. Fitting, as most people think that's where the fuel that powers them came from.

Granted, synthetic gasoline alternatives can and have been formulated. Just take a look at what Porsche's been up to on that front. It's fascinating stuff. But let's be real, there's only a very finite amount of synthetic petroleum in existence. And if you think most of that is going to fuel a bunch of hooligans in their sports cars, you're dreaming.

As we've said, this fuel is likely going directly to the public service and military sectors. It turns out firetrucks, mail trucks, and police cars are more important than some guy's Pontiac GTO, sadly to say. At least in the case of Porsche, whatever is left over is going into keeping their fleet of perfectly preserved 911 sports cars from the 1960s to the present day running. So what does that mean for us American muscle car fanatics?

Well, the answer to that question can only really be understood with time. As our global supplies of automotive-grade crude oil deplete more and more, it's anyone's guess as to who gets dibs on the last of planet Earth's famous dino-juice.

Any potential future conflicts that may or may not be waged over the last supplies of oil aside, one can't help but think that there's going to be a strict hierarchy about which vehicles get to fill up for the last time.

As with synthetic gasoline, expect the public service and military sectors to top this future hierarchy of who gets the last of the genuinely good stuff straight out of the Eath's crust. Once that's satiated, if at all, will there be anything left over for classic muscle cars? What if there isn't any?

It's not like the loud, brash nature of classic American V8 muscle cars lend themselves to advancements in renewable fuels and propulsion the same way sports cars from Europe and Japan would. The roar of a V8 is as much a part of the appeal and the aesthetic of a classic muscle car as much as the engine itself does.

People can and have EV converted classic European cars before, at a higher rate than you might think, no less. The original Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most popular EV conversions out there. Basically, because the thing is so gosh darn easy to take apart.

The VW Karman Ghia rear-engined sports car had the underpinnings of a classic Beetle, for the matter. As it happens, it too is another popular EV swap choice. Seeing that both vehicles had pretty pathetic air-cooled engines of Ferdinand Porsche's design, the added torque of a modest EV conversion can only be a benefit.

But a classic Z/28 Camaro from the same era as the Beetle is just not the same beast. No amount of eco-friendly propaganda is going to change that. Removing the engine from something like that is tantamount to losing its very soul. The very purpose of its existence, at least to some. 

But that's not stopping a handful of future conscious gearheads from taking a leap of faith to ensure their classic car's long-term survival as useable vehicles. If you read the New York Times, you've no doubt heard of Jonathan Ward. A Los Angeles-based modder who converted his 1949 Mercury to full EV status.

The stunning results of his work wound up featured in an NYT feature piece about the mostly clandestine world of EV conversions. Credit to them, the Times sure did find a gem with this man. But in truth, you could apply the same logic to any classic American car.

Even a 1969 Camaro, another car that happens to have had one example turned to electric drive, which was shown to the world at SEMA 2019. Much to some ICE faithful's chagrin, the people who built this car were not thrown out of the building and pelted with eggs and vegetables. People genuinely enjoyed the ingenuity that came with a swap of this caliber, and if you're gung-ho about never going electric, maybe you should too.

We know better at autoevolution to scoff at people for their subjective opinions. We recently interviewed Marty Himes, an 84-year-old retired stock and sprint car racer. A man who began racing in the mid-1950s and still maintains a fleet of running and driving race cars for his self-funded museum.

This is a man who daily drives a 1937 Plymouth sedan. But a gentleman racer of that caliber can't be faulted for having his preferences and not being all that privy to the modern EV craze. People like Marty will always have a place in the gearhead family.

But there are those out there who get just as, if not more excited to see a properly sorted EV converted classic car as they would with a fully rebuilt V8. One day in the future, those will be the only classic cars left on the road.

 
 
 
 
 

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