Is a £350k electric Bentley S1 the future of classic cars?

Is a £350k electric Bentley S1 the future of classic cars?


This isn’t your run-of-the-mill 1961 Bentley Continental Flying Spur by HJ Mulliner… this is the future. This gorgeous old road-boat has had a full electric heart transplant, the work of the Silverstone-based EV restomodders at Lunaz Design. Thanks to an 80kWh lithium-ion battery it has a real-world range of 250 miles, can rapid charge up to 150kW, has regen braking, luxuries like cruise control and traction control and the batteries are split so there’s some at the back, some at the front, to keep weight distribution and handling just so. Is this the future for classics? Let us know in the comments below. Series 29: Geneva Online Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?

this is a 1961 bentley s3 continental flying spur a piece of classic british motoring history the kind of car that you’d expect to be driven by old men in tweed suits not silicon valley entrepreneurs or car journalists trying to make an effort in a cheap suit but beneath that curvaceous oap exterior nothing is quite as it seems that’s because this is the creation of silverstone-based british resto modders lunas who’s been ruffling a few feathers in the classic car scene in the last few years with their meticulous ev conversions yep this bentley is a nut and bolt restoration that’s had his oily bits replaced with electric ones right now under here and hidden away where the sun don’t shine are a pair of electric motors driving the rear wheels producing about 350 horsepower there’s also a total of about 80 kilowatt hours of lithium-ion cells so the range on this thing the real-world range about two to 250 miles it can rapid charge just like a porsche tycoon there’s even luxuries like regen braking cruise control traction control and those batteries i mentioned are split so two thirds of them at the front a third of them at the rear to make sure that the weight distribution and handling is just so in charge of all lunas’s powertrain tech which is entirely engineered and developed in house is john hilton a former renault f1 director who helped fernando alonso win two f1 championships so he knows a thing or two about tight packaging and the formula seems to be working because business is booming for lunas who recently doubled its workforce to meet demand clearly this sort of attention to detail doesn’t come cheap lunas bentley starts from about 350 000 pounds and that’s before you start having fun with very special coach built bodies like this one and different paints and different leathers and infotainment upgrades and if this doesn’t tickle your fancy well lunas will also sell you a 60s rolls royce phantom 5 a rolls royce silver cloud a jaguar xk 120 and the latest addition to the range is an electrified mark 1 range rover yours for 245 grand now the focus is on short production runs to keep prices out of the stratosphere but you know if blank checks are your thing then lunas is always open to conversations about something entirely bespoke and it’s not just focused on british brands either nothing’s off the table the process goes something like this the donor car is sourced by lunas or if you got something rotting in the corner of your 18 car garage that needs reviving they can go to work on that but be warned every car is a bare metal restoration the car is 3d laser scanned a cad model is created the best place for the batteries and other electronics is found and any imperfections in the chassis correct it this isn’t shoehorning the batteries and motors from a crash tesla into any old thing in someone’s shed it’s a proper job so here’s a dilemma that prospective lunas customers might have to face do i go for the all-electric 350 000 pound time warp flying spur or do i go for the flying spur that’s half the price it’s brand new and has a four liter twin turbo v8 well if you want to go all electric it’s a done deal you’ve got to have one of these because you can’t buy an all-electric bentley yet there is a plug-in hybrid version of the bentayga and there’s going to be a plug-in hybrid version of this car coming later this year but for now that’s the situation so let’s leave powertrains to one side for a minute and move on to presents because having these two park next to each other is fascinating i thought the new one was gonna tower over the old car but it doesn’t they’re actually pretty much the same size similar proportions the new one is slightly lower slightly wider and interestingly you can see this curve this bit of muscle in the rear wheel arch echoed from the old car there now don’t get me wrong i’m a big fan of the new flying spur i think there’s something about it it’s a very good looking car it’s a cracking car to drive if i had one i’d have to fire the chauffeur but if you want to feel special if you want to get noticed if you want to make people happy just by driving past them well this car’s in a different league imagine being a premiership footballer and pulling into the car park in one of these all the other players would be hanging their heads in shame and we haven’t even had a look inside come on the idea in here is obvious to keep all the charm of the original car but to subtly integrate all the technology that we just can’t do without these days so you have air con of course you have a proper sized infotainment screen down there the back seats are heated and you’ve got usb ports and look at these dials in front of me they’re brilliant your speed is on the left over here is the amount of power that you’re using including the amount of regen when you come off the throttle this is your percentage of charge remaining this is your battery temperature and the switch gear in the center of the dash is just brilliant it looks just like the original it’s true to the original car but look at that twist that and that’s your cruise control and this bank of switches down here you’ve got your heated seats you’ve got this one to unlock your charging port you’ve got this to stiffen up the dampers it’s brilliantly done now i promised myself i wasn’t going to mention the s word today yeah singer everyone talks about them when they’re in resto mods but the truth is i’m here i’m looking at this level of craftsmanship this obsession to detail this car is properly properly done and it does draw comparisons with those californian 911 fetishists it’s absolutely gorgeous i’ll tell you what should we go for a drive jeez chuck is the key old boy good man to be honest i’m fairly astonished that bentley and rolls royce hasn’t taken the plunge and released a pure electric new model yet and the reason i’m surprised is because electric trains just suit cars like this absolutely down to the ground if you think about it for decades bentley in its plushes models has been trying to reduce engine noise reduce vibrations to increase the refinement and increase torque and with an electric powertrain all that just happens inherently and i know you’re thinking yes jack but batteries are expensive and batteries are heavy well bentleys are expensive and bentleys are heavy and that weight is one of the reasons why they ride so well and why they feel so solid and so planted going around corners is yeah quite interesting let’s call it period correct authentic amounts of body roll you turn the wheel and you stare down this enormous bonnet of the flying bee all the way over there and you wait a bit and then a bit more and then the prowl comes around it’s a lot more like sailing a ship than it is driving a car but it is so so much fun honestly it feels unlike anything else i’ve driven it does feel very much like a classic car in the way the car handles itself except you’ve got this space sage powertrain this smoothness you don’t have a truculent coughing spluttering engine up front trying to spill oil all over the road in terms of performance well it doesn’t quite go like a stabbed rat like um any tesla owner will know about but you do have a lovely smooth torque delivery from the first time you step on the throttle it just gathers momentum smoothly and efficiently yeah i could definitely spend a couple of hundred miles in this maybe a few more actually the sense of occasion in here is off the scale and not just because i’m wearing my wedding suit so the big question is who actually is the target customer for this car well it’s someone that admires a classic but knows the limitations of their reliability in other words they don’t want to lie around in a pool of oil having to fix their car every few days in fact the owner of this very car here has one of the biggest collections of pre-war cars anywhere in the world so he clearly loves a classic but he also knows how temperamental they can be and what he wanted was something that he could just hop in take his family somewhere and know that it just works beautifully of course there are some of you that will look at this car as butchering a piece of our motoring history that electric motors and batteries don’t have to infiltrate everything but i see it a different way lunas claims it’s furthering the legacy of the most beautiful cars in the world and i agree in other words it’s not killing history it’s preserving it for future generations and hey if it keeps beautiful shapes like this on the road well i’m all for it jeeves when you’re ready you

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