Electro-swapping; taking a classic car and replacing its engine with an electric motor; has become the new hot-rodding. It might not sound sexy to old-school car enthusiasts but it’s becoming rather popular and it’s actually a great way to own classic cars while also using state-of-the-art tech. In many ways, it allows you to have your cake and eat it, too. You get old-school style with new-school tech. So if you had to electro-swap a classic BMW, which would it be?
There are so many great models to choose from, it’s hard to pick. For instance, you could go with the original BMW 2002, the car that defined the brand maybe more than any other. It’s small, lightweight and rear-wheel drive. Stuff an electric motor at the back axle and it’d not only be a ton of fun but it’d also likely be faster.
Another great choice would be an E30 3 Series. You can find junker BMW 318i models all day long, for little to no money. Swap out its aging engine with an electric motor and drive the back axle and it’d be an absolute riot to drive. The balance of the E30’s chassis would work wonderfully with an electric powertrain.
However, I think the best Bavarian candidate for an EV swap would be any E9 BMW coupe. The most famous two-door built on the E9 chassis was the BMW 3.0 CSL, a car that was not only beautiful but fantastic to drive. The only issue with the 3.0 CSL is that, nowadays, it’s eye-wateringly expensive. With an EV swap, you can find any model, the 2800CS or whatever other E9 coupe you can find in your budget, and swap the engine with an electric motor. This way, you get the same stunning looks and all the power you want without having to pay the astronomical prices of the 3.0 CSL.
When EV swapping first started, most tuners would buy wrecked Tesla powertrains, as they were relatively cheap and came with all of the requisite electronics. Now, though, there are several companies that will sell you EV crate motors, replete with all the necessary running gear. These crate motors are usually rather easy to fit into most cars and some of them are even designed to fit into specific cars. For instance, Swindon powertrain offers a kit to electro-swap for the original Mini, which is designed to be a plug-and-play bolt-on setup.
To be honest, that’s probably the best electro-swap you can do, as electric classic Minis are brilliant to drive and the kit is relatively easy to DIY. However, that’s technically not a BMW, even if MINI is now owned by the BMW Group. So I leave it up to you; which BMW would you want to electro-swap?