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BMW Isetta given a new lease of life with an EV Conversion

The BMW Isetta needs little introduction to car enthusiasts. A true “Bubble Car”, this 1950’s classic remains a talking point when spotted on the streets of today.

But what happens when you convert a vintage car like this to electric?

There are certainly advantages to converting a classic car to electric power, especially if you’re driving in the city. EVs are considerably more efficient than gas-powered cars and have the benefit of ULEZ and road tax exemptions.

Although an EV conversion can be a perfect solution to breathe new life into your classic, it’s worth considering the work and cost involved. This isn’t a project for a hobbyist, so it’s important you research companies that are experienced with the process.

Conversion costs will vary, with this project being around £25,000, although this will depend on

specification. But as well as this initial cost there is also the money and time you’ll save in servicing and maintaining an old classic vehicle. And of course, you’ll be making a considerable saving on fuel costs in the future.

Some classic car owners may be concerned that converting to electric affects the integrity of the car, but is that really the case? Speaking to Robert, the owner of the Isetta, it seems that converting your classic can bring more joy to your driving.

When asked what it’s like to drive now, Robert says “Electrification has turned an old friend, which I rarely drove, into a practical run around I use most days when I am in London.” Despite the charming characteristics of a classic car, it’s no surprise that driving one can often be difficult and clunky when using the old engine and gear shift.

Many classic car owners choose to convert to electric for environmental reasons and fuel costs. In this instance, it was the desire to improve the car’s driving ability and performance that was behind the project. Having owned Isettas for years, even he says that it was “never a relaxing car to drive, especially in London”. A shame really, when ultimately this should be the perfect car for city driving with its compact size, making it ideal for getting around quickly and easy parking.

So how did they do it?

Firstly, the engine, transmission and fuel system were removed. These were then replaced with a compact AC-20 motor from HPEVS. The team at Retroelectric retained the original transmission but modified with one gear, so it works as a direct drive system. Once the new system was installed, it was then connected to the drivetrain of the car to provide power to the rear wheel.

The car is still very much in keeping with the Isetta’s classic style, you’d have no idea that the car was now an EV until you opened the bonnet!

The Isetta conversion is a perfect example of how Retroelectric brings together all that’s wonderful with a classic car while mixing it with modern EV technology. The final result is a car that’s still full of character but provides you with an enjoyable and engaging drive.

On asking Robert how he found the conversion process he says, “The price was fair, the process was clear and transparent, the work was delivered on time and to budget and any minor issues were resolved quickly, professionally and without charge.  I was so happy with the experience that I am now discussing a couple of other projects with them.”

A very successful conversion project indeed. If you’d like to find out more about how Retroelectric could help you bring new life to your classic car, you can get in touch with them at

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