We often talk about the similarities between the watch industry and the automotive world. The parallels between the two are pretty obvious; precision engineering, technical development, craftsmanship, and in some cases preservation of heritage. There is one development that is quite cool in cars, but I wish never makes the jump to watches; converting classic cars to electric power (imagine your Patek Chronograph with a quartz Ronda movement…) And not just any classic cars, we’re talking about a Rolls Royce Phantom V from 1961, electrified by Lunaz Design.
With the environmental pressure that is currently active to clean up cars and develop alternatives for fossil fuels, some initiatives are very successful in offering an apparent solution. The rise of Tesla as a car builder, for instance, is stunning. Electrifying has multiple benefits over petrol-powered cars, and certainly a few drawbacks. Many petrolheads argue that electric cars have no soul, don’t give off the sense of being alive. While team MONOCHROME loves the smell of petrol, certain projects from the automotive world tingle our spines and have us going “that’s cool!”, even if it means ditching a noisy gas-guzzling engine in the process.
One such project is by Lunaz Design, a UK based company that converts classic British cars to electric drive. The benefit of this is twofold really. On one hand, a precious classic car is preserved for the future, and on the other hand, it becomes a quiet, comfortable, reliable and emission-free vehicle! Their latest conversion is just… superb!
When I think of a Rolls Royce I see a barge-like thing floating along the highway, with a driver behind the wheel and someone important, or at least feeling important, in the back. They were marketed as the best car in the world and I don’t know if that is still the case for classic examples but I think I’ve stumbled upon one that might be. Lunaz Design is currently in the process of converting a 1961 Rolls Royce Phantom V to electric drive. And it’s not just about installing batteries and the necessary hardware and then calling it a day. Oh no, the entire car gets restored, down to the last detail, and is rebuilt to perhaps be even better than the original. Not an easy thing to do, and certainly not a cheap thing to do as a Lunaz Design conversion can cost you several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Prior to this car, Lunaz Design has converted a Jaguar XK120, Rolls Royce Cloud and a Bentley S2 Flying Spur. The goal of the company is to preserve classic cars for the future and ensure they remain desired by many and driven by their owners. Some might argue it is close to blasphemy to do this to these type of cars and they are butchering a perfect historical machine. TO each their own of course but if this means more of these classic cars are salvaged and will be driven for many more years to come, I guess can only support that.
Lunaz Design sources vehicles that are no longer functional or safe enough to drive and completely rebuilds them from the ground, doing so in strictly limited quantities. Each car is stripped down and 3D scanned. From those scans, the entire car is rebuilt and upgraded to modern standards. Originally the car comes with a 6,23 litre V8, which is replaced with a 120kwh electric motor. There’s no mention of performance, and with a classic Rolls Royce, one might even argue such things are irrelevant. The only important thing is knowing you can glide along the road with up to eight companions all while enjoying a no doubt splendid interior.
A full charge of the batteries is sufficient for about 300 miles of range so no need for range anxiety. Other modern necessities like satellite navigation, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, an infotainment system and more is of course included. The brakes are updated, as is the steering and suspension. The interiors are finished with original wood panelling, newly upholstered leather seats, alpaca wool carpets and even a bespoke bar.
Lunaz Design isn’t the first to offer such conversions but its builds are some of the most detailed I’ve seen to date. You’d struggle to find a more refined example of a classical car that has been converted to electric power. But in all fairness, you can rest assured the team of Lunaz Design are more than capable, as they’ve worked for Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Cosworth and McLaren and some of them even spent years in Formula 1. The dedication of the craftsman comes is far from cheap though, and a conversion like this comes with a seriously hefty price tag. Prices for their work starts at around GBP 300,000 but this big Rolls Royce costs a bit more than that; GBP 500,000. What you end up with though is a perfect blend of the appeal of a stylish classic and modern technology and creature comfort.