- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
“I don’t know how many times I’ve met someone who bought the classic car of their dreams and once they drive it around, they found their whole experience disappointing,” says Marc Davis of Austin-based Moment Motor Co. “If you have a gas-powered car that’s 60 years old, getting it on the road and driving it is a real process. These cars are old and things get gummed up with a gas engine. What we do is remove 90 percent of the problems by making it an EV.”
Moment, along with EV West, Icon, Zelectric Motors and a few other custom shops, have built a cult following by specializing in converting classic cars from gas power to EV power and filling a growing market demand for these vehicles. Davis, who has quite a few Hollywood clients making the pilgrimage to his shop, has converted everything from a 1974 Alfa Romeo GT Veloce to a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.
These transformations, while expensive, present to the collector something that no one else has: an electrified version of their dream car. Moment charges anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 (exclusive of the original car) for the conversion, which takes about six months.
EV conversions aren’t as simple as pulling out the gasoline engine and swapping in an electric motor, as each car is essentially its own engineering puzzle — from custom-designed drivetrains to determining where to put the battery packs — and can take anywhere from 200 to 500 hours in labor per conversion.
Michael Bream, owner of San Marcos, California-based EV West — whose clients have included Halston Emmy nominee Ewan McGregor — began as a hobbyist “building electric race cars for fun,” he says. He calls the secret to a good conversion “just being crafty with parts and pushing to get the most power. We care about the environment, but we also really care about how the car will drive.”
EV West converted a 1954 oval-window VW Beetle for McGregor that was featured on Apple TV+’s 2020 travel documentary series The Long Way Up. Bream says the actor reached out to the company by email, first about converting a 1963 Beetle. “About six months later, I got a message from him that he chose a new car — the 1954 — and he was ready to go. The clients we get are real car guys, and they tend to lean toward getting the car first. Ewan put a lot of thought process into what he wanted to convert. He was very specific and demanding, which is great, as he really, really knows his stuff.”
Said McGregor on the show, a palpable look of joy covering his face when he first lays eyes on the vehicle, “[Bream will] put electric power in anything. He converts Porsches and Ferraris and loads of VW stuff. This looks brilliant. This looks so trick, doesn’t it?”
This story first appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
Primetime Emmy Awards