Contrary to popular opinion, the electric car we know today is not a product of modern times. Our great-grandfathers and ancestors were dabbling with electrical-powered horseless carriages as early as the 1830s. By the 1900s, electric cars were increasingly becoming more popular than steam-powered automobiles. Fast forward to 2020, and it seems every legacy carmaker and startup is rushing to get ahead in the steadily burgeoning EV market.
And this got us thinking. Knowing that anything retro and vintage is cool again, we reimagined what 7 electric cars would’ve looked like in the grooviest decade of all: the 1960s. So we took seven of the hottest, most popular, or most highly anticipated electric vehicles of the modern age, fired up our DeLorean, and went back in time to redesign them, ‘60s style.
Don’t be fooled by the 2020 BMW i8’s futuristic, supercar-like design. It’s a low slung, plug-in hybrid sports car with trick flip-up doors, but it’s not powered by a sonorous V8 or V12 engine. Instead, the i8 combines a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, a single electric motor, and an 11.6 kWh battery pack good for 369 horsepower.
What the BMW i8 needs is an image overhaul. For that, we turned to the BMW 507 roadster. Produced from 1956 to 1960, the 507 ended up being too expensive for its own good, but it’s one of the best-looking vintage Beemers of all time. We gave our retro-modern i8 some round headlights, thinner kidney grilles, and a chrome front bumper.
The Nissan Leaf is not the first mass-produced electric car – that distinction belongs to the EV1 by General Motors – but it’s one of the most successful production EVs of the modern era. The Leaf started life as a googly-eyed curiosity with a small electric motor and dismal range. The second-gen Nissan Leaf is a return to normalcy with friendlier styling, a more powerful electric motor, and up to 226 miles of driving range.
Style-wise, Nissan should look in the opposite direction for inspiration, specifically the glorious Datsun 2000 from 1967. Instead of a roadster, we adopted the current Leaf’s tallboy roofline and four-door body style, but critical design elements like the round headlights, low-set chrome front bumper, and chrome hubcaps were lifted directly from the ‘60s.
The current Porsche Taycan is essentially a four-door, electric 911 GT car. The Taycan is known as Porsche’s first-ever all-electric vehicle, but company founder Ferdinand Porsche designed his first EV in 1898, and Porsche’s first hybrid car (the Semper Vitus or Lohner-Porsche Mixte) appeared in the early 1900s. Who would have known that electric vehicles were at the core of the Porsche brand, right?
With that, we went straight to Porsche’s first production vehicle. Produced from 1948 to 1956, the Porsche 356 was sold as a two-door coupe, roadster, or convertible. But since the Taycan is technically a coupe-shaped sedan with four doors, we gave the 356 a longer wheelbase, two more doors, and a sloping roofline. The result is a vintage-inspired Taycan that purists are sure to enjoy.
Mate Rimac started Rimac Automobili in a slightly unconventional manner. Rimac began converting his personal petrol-powered BMW E30 3-Series to an all-electric vehicle in 2007. By 2009, Rimac Automobili was founded in Croatia as a producer of battery systems and drivetrains. Two years on, the Rimac Concept One was born and became the world’s fastest accelerating EV in 2013.
Rimac currently has the Concept S, which is essentially a sleeker, lighter, and stronger version of the Concept One. But we think a retro-flavoured Rimac is the best way to go, and the next best thing is to summon up the basic silhouette of the original Ford GT. With bulbous fenders, fat tires, and a two-tone scheme with black symmetrical side graphics, our retro Rimac is screaming for some live TV action.
The Rivian R1T is one of the most highly anticipated electric vehicles in the market. Also, the R1T is striking for the jugular as pickup trucks (and SUVs) are the hottest things since skinny jeans. While the world awaits the arrival of Rivian’s electric pickup truck, we reimagined how the R1T will fare when given the slab body lines of a 1960s pickup truck.
We took the twin vertical round headlight design of the International A Series truck, the squarish cab design of the R1T, and sharp contours of the Chevy C/K series. The result is a no-nonsense, no-frills electric pickup riding atop Rivian’s skateboard platform.
It’s impossible to talk about modern electric cars without mentioning Tesla and Elon Musk. The EV maker introduced the Model X SUV in 2015, and it was unlike any SUV the world has seen, partly due to its innovative falcon-style rear doors. But to create a retro-styled Model X, we sought inspiration from the company’s upcoming Cybertruck and the International Harvester Scout.
As you probably know, the cybertruck’s futuristic, stealth-fighter design is derived from the wedge-shaped form of 1960s-era sports cars. We took some of that and threw in the Model X’s fancy rear doors while including some square headlights for good measure. The result wouldn’t look out of place in Back to the Future Part III.
The Toyota Prius is not the first production hybrid-electric vehicle, but it sure is one of the most successful. However, the Prius is not exactly breathtaking to look at, and it lacks the appeal of a purebred Japanese car. The good news is we fixed it with our rendition of a retro Prius, sort of.
The third-gen Toyota Corona was a big hit from 1964 to 1970. Best of all, it was sold as a five-door hatchback similar to the liftback rear end of a modern Prius. We took the iconic four-round-headlights-in-a-squared-frame design of the RT40 Corona. We also included the rising chrome trim running around the shoulder line while retaining the Prius’ oddly designed rear flanks.
Restoring classic cars by transplanting antiquated running gears with electric powertrains are becoming commonplace. And in some cases, looking to the past is the best way forward. In this day and age of generic-looking sedans and crossovers, a mild sprinkling of nostalgia might prove to be the magic formula for people to widely accept EVs in their garages.
Devara, T. (2018). The new BMW i8 Roadster. shutterstock.com
Dambrans, K. (2018). RIGA, MAY 2018 – Nissasn LEAF. shutterstock.com
BoJack. (2020). Porsche Taycan 4S first luxury electric auto. shutterstock.com
Karasi, Igor. (2014). Rimac Concept One Full Electric Car With 1088 HP. shutterstock.com
Truesdell, R. (2018). Debut of the Rivian R1T pickup. commons.wikimedia.org
Yauhen_D. (2016). Tesla Model X P90D at the off-road test-drive. shutterstock.com
JuliusKielaitis. (2016). Toyota Prius. shutterstock.com
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