Written by Eric Becker
Electric vehicles have become the talk of the industry, and with such incredibly potent power on-demand, it’s easy to see why. The rise of the electric powertrain has leant itself to more than just the savvy commuter car. The instanteous torque and uproarious straight-line speed has been duly noted by performance fiends everywhere. Both Ford and Chevy have unveiled electric powered versions of their top drag racers, the eCOPO Camaro and Cobra Jet Mustang 1400 – each capable of easily breaking the 9-second barrier in the quarter-mile and keeping pace with even the most potent force-inducted V8.
But it doesn’t end there. Electric power is surely to become the next buzzword in high performance. The current record-holder on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was set by the electric Volkswagen I.D. R, which ascended the 14,115-foot mountain in under 8 minutes – some 10 seconds faster than the previous record. GMC is slated to resurrect and unveil a new 1,000-horsepower electric Hummer to battle Tesla’s highly anticipated Cybertruck, and the world of the hypercar is abuzz with dozens of 2,000-plus-horsepower electric concepts from Lotus, Pininfarina and Rimac.
But the technology doesn’t end there. We’ve seen hybrid and electric technology become adopted as much in the racing world as by mainstream high-performance manufacturers – Porsche being among the first. When the 918 Spyder was launched as a hybrid back in 2013 it was met with some skeptism, but the ferocity of its performance and desirability among collectors shook loose any detractors. The combination of a traditional combustion engine supplemented by an electric motor ushered in an era of performance not yet seen on the road or the auction block. Two 918 Spyders have found their way across the block at Barrett-Jackson, each selling for $1.76 million at the 2017 and 2018 Las Vegas events. Collectors are clearly enamored with the new era of performance. Stuttgart has made electric performance a staple of their modern image – consider their Formula E team and newly unveiled electric rocketship the Taycan.
Electrification trickling its way into the aftermarket is nothing new. We’ve seen a few electric powertrain-swapped Resto-Mods cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block before – an electric-powered Ferrari 308 sold at our 2018 Scottsdale Auction springs to mind. But the future of classic sheet metal stuffed with controllers, batteries and coils certainly looks bright.
Look no further than the SEMA Show. Always indicative of what trends are spurring the aftermarket, the 2019 show had several “induction motor” swapped gas vehicles. Both OEMs and independent tuners are getting in on the cutting-room floor, offering crate versions of electric powertrains.
Chevy unveiled what it calls the “future of hot rodding,” taking a 1962 C10 pickup and overhauling it to accept Chevy’s “Connect & Cruise” electric powertrain. Aptly named the E-10, the pickup uses two 60kWh batteries from the Chevrolet Bolt EV and a concept propulsion system from Chevrolet Performance. The eCrate motor is fitted to a SuperMatic 4L75-E automatic transmission and sends an estimated 450hp to the rear wheels – impressive, given the orginal 1962 engine put out less than half that.
Others are experimenting from the ground up. One of the standout builds from SEMA 2019 that continued to make rounds on the internet long after the show ended is the 935 K3V built by globally renowned engineer Bisi Ezerioha of Bisimoto. What started life as a simple road-going Porsche 911 morphed into a 637-horsepower, 2,681-pound three-phase electric motor-powered monster. Donning an original Kremer K3 935 body kit, the slate gray and pink Porsche is an exclamation point in engineering, combining the best of old and new. Anyone would surely exclaim “Great Scott!” when experiencing the accelerative ferocity of this silent predator.
But the electrification bug goes far deeper. Our friends at Ford recently took to unveiling a race-bred Mustang Mach-E, poised to show that electric doesn’t just mean rampant acceleration; it’ll hang with the best of them on track, too. And with 2,300 pounds of downforce at 160 mph, “hang” is certainly an understatement. Built as a collaboration between Ford Performance and RTR the two performance arms of the Blue Oval squeezed their palms together and created something utterly thrilling and utterly unique: the Mach-E 1400. With seven – yes, seven – electric motors (three up front and four in the rear) the electric dynamo produces a peak horsepower of 1,400 and enough torque to make your soul smile.
“Getting behind the wheel of this car has completely changed my perspective on what power and torque can be,” said Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR Vehicles founder, Formula Drift champion and self-proclaimed “professional fun-haver.” For a video reveal of the Mach-E 1400, Ford brought out a star-studded lineup that included Gittin Jr., Chelsea Denofa, Ken Block, Joey Logano and Hailie Deegan. If watching that doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, we don’t know what will.
It may take some getting used to and be harder to get excited about permanent magnets and AC induction than thumping cams and screaming V12s. But the performance is undeniable, and turning stored chemical energy into useful electrical energy isn’t too different than the combustion process.
Better living through chemistry, as they say – and if that means more speed, then that’s always better.