What's the story?
The news that there was an electric Land Rover in the USA immediately made me think someone had spotted a development mule vehicle from Land Rover’s current line up. Imagine my surprise when I find out that the vehicle is actually this 1951 Series I 80in!
The previous owner, Bill Moore, found the 80-inch in New Mexico, where it appears to have spent most of its life. It was complete but tired, including the 1.6-litre petrol engine. Bill’s goal was to give the Land Rover a sympathetic restoration. After a year, the Series I was ready for a new lease of life – then everything changed. Bill’s wife insisted that he needed to cull some of his Land Rover collection, so he decided to donate the 80in as the grand prize in an auction for the sustainable energy group on Nantucket Island. In addition, the scope of the project had changed – it was to become a fully electric vehicle.
The engine was removed and put to one side, leaving the engine mounts in position. All the components for the Series I were already available off the shelf from EV America. The only special item required was to design and manufacture an adaptor to bolt the electric motor to the four-speed manual Land rover gearbox.
The 12-volt DC motor, a Warp 9 was bolted to the existing engine mounts and the special adaptor allowed the new powerplant to be bolted to the original main gearbox. Twelve 6V 255 amp batteries were called into service to drive the new motor and provide drivable performance and reasonable range, located throughout the vehicle to spread the weight.
On a full charge travelling at a reasonable speed you can expect to drive for around 50 to 60 miles, or three to four hours. The range can be quite easy to extend – just add more batteries!
Our favourite bit?
If you step on the throttle pedal enough, it can throw you back, reminding me of when a plane takes off. With the low-end acceleration of a jackrabbit, the confidence builds and I yearn to unleash the power and blow the doors off a supercharged Range Rover, and so quietly that the driver hardly realises what is happening!
The whole ride is super-smooth and super-quiet. There’s no rumbling engine, no fumes and no noise. The only evidence of mechanical motion was the main gearbox gears meshing together and the occasional creak from the leaf springs.
And the verdict from LRO writer Steve Hoare?
‘Sitting in the driver’s seat I’ve no idea how this vehicle will feel on the road. Will I miss the rumble of the exhaust and the throbbing or valve clatter vibrations of a reciprocating engine? What about the smell of incompletely burned hydrocarbons and exhaust fumes percolating into the back?
With the ‘ignition’ on and battery indicator showing maximum bars I press the accelerator pedal. This is so much nicer than a gas-guzzler. This is awesome! I step on the throttle, or maybe I should say, step on the electricity, and a smile immediately lights up my face. The quick and powerful, yet quiet acceleration is stunning.’
Model: Series I 80 in soft top
Power: 12V DC WARP 9 electric motor