EV conversion of classic Landie improves performance but carries a huge price tag
- Quicker and cleaner than the original car
- You won’t miss the combustion engine
- A very cool EV
- Expensive and unlikely to ‘pay back’ conversion CO2
- Alarmingly poor drum brakes
- Too nice for off-road use?
It was a genuinely impressive piece of engineering, one that managed to improve on the performance of the original car without adding significant weight. Yet something was undoubtedly missing, beyond just the sound and buzz of the original car’s characterful air-cooled flat-six. It felt like it had lost its soul.
But now I’ve driven Everrati’s second EV electromod, a conversion of the Series IIA Land Rover, and my feelings towards it are much warmer. Largely because of how many of the original’s character-enhancing imperfections have survived the heart transplant surgery.
Everrati isn’t building new cars, but rather converting existing ones, which means that customers will have to either provide their own ‘Series’ Land Rover, or pay for the company to source an appropriate donor vehicle. That brings a few advantages, not least that the electrified cars will keep the legal identity of the originals – which helps with exports to the U.S. But it also means the Everrati adds the cost of a full, nuts-and-bolts resto added to that of the new powerplant.
Buyers will face a huge number of decisions, with the Meccano set nature of early Land Rovers meaning that Everrati’s powertrain can fit into any Series II or Series III, and it is looking to squeeze it into the far smaller Series I and Defender as well. Throw in further choice between different body styles, long and short wheelbase and all the rest and the possibilities are close to endless.
The company’s IIA demonstrator has its headlights mounted on the front wings, but it is also possible to have them in the grille, as with earlier Series IIs. Buyers will also be able to add anachronistic upgrades including electric aircon, power steering and even in-car entertainment. Colour and trim choices are effectively limitless, one of the first customer cars has its rear compartment entirely fitted out with yacht-grade teak.
Although there was a very rare straight-six version, most Series II Landies were powered by the company’s long-lived four-cylinder engines – the petrol version making 52kW and the diesel making just 46kW. The Everrati conversion replaces the four-banger with a single 112kW electric motor, this plumbing onto the original transfer case to still offer a selectable low ratio and mechanically engaged four-wheel drive.
The conversion’s claimed 13-second 0-100km/h time looks very leisurely for an EV, but represents a huge improvement on the 30 seconds it would take an original petrol SWB Series IIA to dispatch the benchmark. (The diesel was spared the indignity of any even slower time by its inability to crack 100km/h flat-out.) Electric power is drawn from three battery packs which give a combined 60kWh of capacity, the largest being under the bonnet and with two smaller ones located behind the sills on both sides. There are no WLTP figures, but Everrati is claiming a 200km range, with charging handled by a CCS port where the fuel filler originally went.
Turning the demonstrator’s ignition key produces only silence – a familiar experience for the owners of many classic Landies – but touching the brake pedal creates a whine from under the bonnet as the 12V servo that boosts the brakes fires into life. Despite the loss of the original transmission, the gearlever survives, moving this backwards to select drive and pushing it forwards for reverse. Pedal positioning is terrible, as it always was, but it only takes gentle pressure on the accelerator to create an unfamiliar level of G-forces.
This soon tails off, and given the Everrati sits on leaf-sprung suspension and uses all-drum brakes the would be no point turning it into a hot rod. But it definitely feels keen enough – and almost as soon as it starts to move the lack of a combustion soundtrack is forgotten. That’s because all of the other sensory distractions are still present.
|2022 Everrati Series IIA Land Rover|
|Engine||Single permanent magnet electric motor|
|Transmission||Single-speed, selectable low range, selectable four-wheel drive|
|Top speed||120km/h (est)|
The demonstrator’s steering doesn’t have the optional power assistance, and doesn’t need it – lightening nicely as soon as the car starts to move. But the helm also delivers far crisper reactions than I was expecting from my experience of aged Land Rovers, likely down to the presence of a new steering box.
But although it takes directional input well at low speeds, the crudity of the chassis components means that holding a steady course is always going to be a challenge, even small bumps knocking it slightly off a chosen line. The ride over rougher surfaces is choppy, which is again a common trait to short-wheelbase Landies, but the conversion’s 1655kg weight isn’t helping. About 300kg more than an original car.
The Series IIA’s square lines create lots of wind noise even at gentle speeds, with the cold air of an English winter getting in through gaps in the sliding side windows and the underscreen ventilation flaps.
There are also lots of clunks and clattering noises as the suspension works. But all of those are entirely prototypical – it’s what Land Rovers used to feel like. It takes a stop at a junction for me to re-realise the lack of engine noise; I haven’t been missing it all.
The brakes were a bit too original for my tastes. Everrati will offer a conversion to discs, although one that requires bigger wheels, but the original drums offer very limited retardation with confidence in their powers knocked further by the mushiness of the pedal.
The plan is to ultimately have regenerative braking too, but this wasn’t working on the demonstrator – nor was it possible to select four-wheel drive. Not that I reckon too many people are going to be picking an expensively converted EV for hardcore off-road use.
The money being asked is well inside indulgent toy territory, Everrati suggesting a fair percentage of their clientele are affluent urban buyers wanting to demonstrate their greenness with something more original than a Tesla or a Taycan.
The base conversion and restoration will cost £150,000 in the UK pre-tax – that’s $287,000 at current exchange rates – with the cost of a donor vehicle on top of that. Everrati’s take on the classic Land Rover isn’t a rational choice, but it is a fun one.