Classic Cars

This EV-converted Porsche 912 is a 1960s classic

This EV-converted Porsche 912 is a 1960s classic

Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and driver

Ian James Corlett describes himself Porsche enthusiast, having owned a series of 911s. That’s why he chose a 912 as the basis for his project, thinking that a more prosaic four-cylinder Porsche would be a less heretical subject for conversion from internal combustion to power electric.

In its time, a mid-’60s Porsche 912 mixed teardrop looks with everyday use and reasonable running costs. Half a century later, even a well-restored model can require careful and ongoing maintenance, and a peak output of 90 horsepower struggles to keep up with modern traffic.

A responsive 120 pound-feet of electric torque at the light switch makes Corlett’s battery-powered 912 as easy to drive as a modern electric vehicle. A mix of 911 and Boxster suspension and braking components further enhances the performance envelope. The dogleg five-speed manual transmission is retained, and the lack of 1960s noise isolation lets you hear the electric motor roar at full power. Power reaches 118 horsepower and is much more accessible than with a combustion engine. Moreover, the car is still light, with an empty weight equivalent to that of a full-fuel six-cylinder 911 of the same period.

The original inspiration for the electric 912 was a recalcitrant Vespa. Corlett had dreamed of a QuadropheniaItalian-style scooter in its youth, but the reality was a tough two-stroke that rarely cooperated when a sunny afternoon rolled around. He converted it to electric and fell in love with turnkey performance.

His 912 project was not so easy. First, the rusty donor car had more holes than a pasta strainer, and extensive body work on the shell took months. Then setting up the initial powertrain layout was a trial and error process. Slow discharge during storage resulted in damaged battery. Eventually, Corlett crossed paths with the experts at EV West, who reworked the conversion and tweaked it for more reliability. Corlett refers to this version as its version 2.0. Its forward-mounted 25kWh battery offers just over 100 miles of range, perfect for a Sunday morning cruise.

“It’s bulletproof,” Corlett says. “I just walked in, and it’s ready to go.”

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Corlett moved to Los Angeles several years ago for his work as a voice actor – he is featured in animated series from Dragon Ball Z for G.I. Joe. His electric Porsche first raised eyebrows at local shows, but quickly proved to be a passport to SoCal car culture.

“This car has opened so many doors for me,” he says.

Potential future plans for the 912 include air conditioning, an upgrade to DC fast charging and a longer-range battery. For now, the 912 sits on a charger, ready to go at any time. It offers the appearance and charms of a vintage car, made upgradable.

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