A purely electric-powered Rolls-Royce makes sense. After all, from their inception in 1904, these English automobiles made silence a cardinal virtue and indisputable proof of the high degree of refinement of their mechanics. Technological progress now makes it possible to transplant an electric machine and high-performance batteries under the body of the most desirable classic Rolls-Royces without anyone finding fault, quite the contrary.
Because he was up against an aristocracy and English parliamentarians determined to ban the circulation of automobiles – a hobby considered dangerous, smelly and very noisy – Henry Royce had decided early on to concentrate his efforts on improvement. the regularity of operation of the internal combustion engine, in order to make it quieter. A discreet and docile mechanism would help him fight the Conservatives who demanded the reinstatement of the iniquitous law repealed in 1896, which until then required to precede each automobile by a pedestrian waving a red flag. So goes the legend.
The name of Rolls-Royce evokes silence and refinement. A bit like electric compared to Diesel
This quest for silence has become unhealthy for Royce and his partner Charles Rolls, to the point of lastingly tinting the folklore attached to their firm. Thus, in the instruction manual supplied with the first Rolls-Royce chassis, the driver was invited to sprinkle water on the spokes of wooden wheels, which tended to squeak when they became loose. authentic anecdotes (published by Faber and Faber in London in 1984) tell that the engineers responsible for examining and homologating the first Rolls-Royce chassis imported into the United States had thought they were dealing with an electric motor, as the English 6-cylinder seemed to them silent. In the factory, a sign had even been hung: “Warning: silent cars”. And so on, until shaping the legend.
At the end of the 1950s, an advertisement which remained famous by David Ogilvy affirmed that in the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud launched at a hundred miles an hour, the most audible noise came from the electric clock. It was a question of convincing the wealthy American customer that this car was the worthy heir to the Silver Ghost 40/50 hp, about which the 1910 catalog stated: “A coin (penny) has remained balanced on its slice on the edge of the radiator cap for two minutes, while the engine was idling, demonstrating the virtual absence of vibration. ”
La Fée Électricité must make the Rolls-Royce known to be “The Best Car in the World” even better
A Silver Cloud of this vintage should reach a higher degree of refinement once it passes through the hands of the Lunaz Limited workshop, which since 2018 has specialized in converting to electric propulsion. The fact that the Rolls-Royce company approves this type of transformation attests to the quality of the work accomplished by the team of the founder, David Lorenz. “The times are right for an electrified Rolls-Royce,” says the English engineer based at Silverstone, where he designs and installs electrical machines in the bodywork of cars of yesteryear. Each car is personalized according to the wishes of the customer, who buys it through the “classic” department of its original manufacturer. “We are responding to a demand for vehicles that combine the beauty and elegance of an automotive classic with the reliability and cleanliness of modern electrical mechanics. We are proud to introduce and appreciate old Rolls-Royces to a new generation of enthusiasts. ”
The cars transformed by Lunaz Limited are the only ones that can claim to be approved by Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Jaguar. The young firm has set its sights on a copy dated 1961 of the Rolls-Royce Phantom V, a larger version of the Silver Cloud from the famous advertisement by Ogilvy. As always at Lunaz, the process begins with a total restoration of the car, with the stripping of the sheet metal and rectification of the surfaces before painting. The cockpit is dressed new and the original mechanics are replaced by an electric machine and a 120 kWh battery (for 482 kilometers of range), associated with custom transmission and software.
Authentic Rolls-Royces from the 1950s and 1960s will be handcrafted and converted to electric by Lunaz
The order books are open for a first series of thirty electrified Rolls-Royce Phantom Vs, each invoiced at 500,000 pounds sterling excluding taxes and options (ie 558,624 euros). Thereafter, Lunaz Limited intends to offer Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I, II and III at a price of 350,000 pounds sterling (391,037 euros). A sum that can be increased in a thousand ways, depending on the whims of the customer: special paint, skin and woodwork, efficient air conditioning, modern navigation and infotainment equipment.
So the sponsor of the 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V conversion pictured on this page chose to keep the charming pink bakelite phone that a previous owner had installed between the two rear seats. Behind its antiquated forms now hide the modern electronics of an encrypted cell phone.
The electric conversion of old cars: a necessary sacrilege?
Such transformations could offend the sensibilities of collectors defenders of the authentic. This is why Tim Hanning, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic is careful to point out that the conversion of the fabulous Jaguar Type leaves its chassis intact, which can thus “find its original engine at any time”. The argument made by Lunaz Ltd makes it clear that the same goes for the Rolls-Royces modified by it.
The English craftsman also points out that the trend is towards traffic restrictions in the big cities. The conversion to electric (which some still want to call "electric retrofit") is the answer for those who wish to retain the privilege of parading at the wheel of their old English car into the heart of the cities. "My ambition is to satisfy the appetite of those who discover an attraction for the beauty and the romanticism of the cars of yesteryear but refrain from driving one in view of their impact on the environment", explains David Lorenz. .