There is something different about this EV conversion. Not just because it is in the form of arguably one of the best-looking cars of all time, but because it is one of the most authentic reimagining’s of a classic car out there.
The Porsche 356C is a 1960’s classic that has been given a new lease of life by the team at Electrogenic, an electric vehicle conversion company that transform cars like these, into fully electric masterpieces.
It is a car that carries a certain reputation. The 356C was the precursor to the original 911, and was Porsche’s first ever production car. Although its name is engrained into automotive history, this specific car has been completely transformed and made fit for the modern age.
A sympathetic conversion
The Electrogenic ethos is slightly unique in comparison to many other EV conversion companies. Their process is described as “sympathetic,” with the direction and objective for each car to be made a better of version of its original self.
It is an ethos that is best described by Steve Drummond, the co-founder of Electrogenic: “The thing about classic cars is it’s all about character. It’s the character of the car; the way it drives, the way it feels. They have their own unique character, and what we try to do is bring that out with the electric.”
In the case of the 356C, it is hard to better the original, hence why the design of this car has been left alone. From its two-door bodyshell to its bug-eye headlights, as well as the twin exhaust at the rear, the exterior of this car is genuine and authentic.
Inside, a similar approach has been taken, but there have been some upgrades. Whilst certain aspects have been converted for the purpose of electrification, such as the speedometer and the fuel (range) gauge, there is still an overwhelming sense of the 60’s lingering.
There are cute touches such as wind-up windows and a quarter panel window, too, to make up for the lack of air conditioning. All the knobs and switches are rustic and classical, and there is also a cigarette lighter and an ash tray. Truly representative of the original era of this car.
The interior retains a traditional, classy red leather, which sprays across the seats, the dash and virtually everywhere else in the car. The inside of this car has been carefully crafted and polished, even down to the smallest details, such as the stitching on the door handles. Everything is spotless. Immaculate. It is an interior that oozes class and is what you would expect from a car that is going to set you back somewhere in the region of £150,000, depending on the donor car. It is rightfully premium.
With Electrogenic’s Porsche 356, the whole approach, from start to finish, has been focused on retaining the core values of the car, and that specific mantra can be summarized by one specific aspect.
A conversion like no other
Whilst the majority of electric classic car conversions are fully automatic like your modern day EVs, this Porsche 356C has held on to its original 4-speed gearbox. This is a manual electric car.
It is an electric classic car like no other. Pulling off in first gear, you will feel the initial punch of the 80kW battery as it delivers 235Nm of torque – over 100 more than the original. Up into second and the car really begins to shift. Third is where the car is most comfortable. If you want to drive this car as a normal, automatic EV, then this is the gear for you. Into fourth gear and then the car is shifting, reaching its top speed of 120mph.
Stamping your foot down on the ground will allow you to push this car from 0-60mph in seven seconds, over three seconds quicker than its petrol equivalent.
Whilst there have been apparent upgrades to the performance of this car, it is not just about going as fast as you can. Thanks, in part, to the original gearbox, this is an electric vehicle which can deliver a true driving performance.
The electric cars of today make driving easy, which, for the most part, is a good thing. They can control your speed, your braking and they can even steer for you. However, when you’re behind the wheel of the 356, you are truly in control.
There is no power steering. You have to wrestle with the steering, with every corner on a track feeling like a workout. The smoothness of the ride is basic, with only a lap belt keeping you loosely attached to your seat. When slinging this thing around a track, you bounce and bumble around, gripping on to the wheel for dear life, whilst also trying to figure out the gears. It is brilliant.
This is not a car you can just get in and thrash around. You have to figure it out. The gears can be unforgiving; they bite and snarl at you if you don’t change correctly. It can be unforgiving at times, in the best possible sense.
There is a sense of delayed gratification with this car. Once you have the gears nailed down, and you become perfectly in sync with what it takes to drive this car, it is simply joyous. I had an hour to myself on a track and, after only a couple of laps of learning and shunting, it became one of the best hours of my life.
You have an enormous sense of satisfaction when you fly out of a corner flat out, with the tyres squealing and with your arms aching. There is a smile etched on your face at all times. You pat yourself on the back with every successful downshift, and then again as you go up through the gears, throwing yourself back into your seat with every squeeze of the throttle.
The Porsche 356 by Electrogenic is imperfect. Purposely so. Like many classic cars, it is these imperfections that make this car perfect. After parking this car up at the side of the track at Bicester Heritage, and getting into my regular, everyday EV to go home, there was emptiness. It was the comedown after such an exhilarating high. Suddenly, squeezing the throttle in my car felt dull and unfulfilling. I wished I was back in the 356.
Something truly special
It has been a couple of months since I got behind the wheel of the Porsche 356 and I still find it so hard to describe. It is more of a feeling and a sensation rather than a collection of words and superlatives.
Every detail, inside and out, has come together to create something truly special; an electric classic car like no other. From the manual gearbox to the precision and beauty of the interior, it is nearly impossible to find something negative about the car.
Overall, it feels as though the only appropriate way to end this review is to say thank you, Electrogenic. Thank you.
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