A few years ago, I had the chance to drive a vintage Mini Cooper that was converted over to electric. It was created by a very nice German man who worked for MINI across the Atlantic and he essentially built it in his garage. He then brought it over to the ‘States to let some U.S. market journos drive it in Manhattan. It was one of the most interesting driving experiences I’ve ever had and I still remember it clearly to this day. So when I saw that Johnny Smith (aka the Car Pervert) drove an electric-swapped classic Mini of his own, I had to check it out.
The classic Mini Smith drives is done by SWIND, a Swindon, England-based electric powertrain company that converts old Minis over to electric and sells them. It’s called the SWIND-E and it’s an all-electric Mini Cooper that’s very similar to the one I drove a couple of years back.
Like every other old Mini, the car sits incredibly low, has tons of feedback through the steering and chassis. The only difference is that a 107 bhp brushless electric motor sits under the hood, rather than an engine. But the motor is smaller than the Mini’s original engine, allowing for some front luggage space to be fitted. Hell, it even has a better weight distribution than the standard car.
So even though it’s been converted to electric, it hasn’t lost any of its classic Mini feel. It still feels light, nimble and incredibly fun.
Admittedly, it’s a bit different than the car I drove and, honestly, seems like less fun. Why? Because the electrified classic Mini I drove had a four-speed manual gearbox. That’s right, it was an electric car with a manual gearbox. I’m not entirely sure how it worked — I asked but couldn’t understand his very thick accent and only had about 10 minute with him — but I remember him saying something about a belt drive. Either way, it was awesome to drive a manual gearbox in an electric car, especially a classic Mini.
The car in this video seems to tickle my fancy, though, and it should tickle anyone’s fancy that wants a classic car but is afraid of the maintenance.