There's no denying the performance modern electric cars have to offer these days. There have been so many drag race videos that show just how far these battery-powered vehicles have come in just a few years. If anything, sub five-second times have become the norm for the higher-spec EVs.
However, there are still those who argue that there is one thing these EVs can't do, and that's driver involvement. Perhaps a reason for that argument is that lack of a manual transmission in these plug-in vehicles. Thankfully, there are companies out there who want to change that perception. One of them is Electrogenic, a firm based in Oxford, England.
Electrogenic has been doing EV swaps for older cars for quite some time now. It has turned several classics into EVs, including a Volkswagen Samba van, a Beetle, a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, and even a Hudson Commodore. The company's most recent build is an electrified Porsche 356, but it's not your run-of-the-mill EV swap, as Auto Trader's Rory Reid explains.
Unlike most EV swaps, this has a manual transmission. Not only that, the battery-powered 356 even uses the original four-speed transmission from the original article. There are even a few nods to the past with this electric 356. For instance, the motor is still at the back, it still uses wind-down windows, and even the battery cooling system is air-cooled. So how did Electrogenic do it?
The electric motor is connected to a top hat that links it to the flywheel. Power and throttle input is then fed through the factory pressure plate and clutch. A special adaptor then makes the whole thing work. If you're curious about its performance figures, the motor is good for 120 bhp (80 kilowatts) and 173 pound-feet (235 Newton-metres) of torque. It may not seem like much, but it's heaps more than the 'Pre-A' models with a 1.1-litre engine that made 40 bhp (29 kilowatts).
Because it relies of a flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch, the car acts like a manual despite having an electric motor. It can even 'rev' when you step on the accelerator when it's set in neutral, making a whirring when you do so. Thankfully, it doesn't stall but you will have to use the clutch when setting off. You can also choose to leave it in one gear and let the torque do all the work.
It may not have the sound of the flat-four engine when you're driving it around, but the fact that it apes the characteristics of a manual makes it interesting. Plus, you have three pedals to play with for that extra engagement. Electrogenic may not be the first to build an EV with a manual, but it's good to know there are more companies that do.
So how much does it cost, you ask? Without the cost of a donor car, the conversion will set you back somewhere around £30,000 to £50,000, depending on how much power and range you want. In some ways, it's heretic, but there is a case for these electrified classics nonetheless.