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I'd been wanting to build an electric sports car for a while, and I want it to be the first of a production run so it had to be based upon an existing car where supply of base cars and components wouldn't be a problem. My first thought was the Alfa Spider. There are many seventies cars around at a reasonable price, but they are mainly left-hand drive. I want to be able to build cars for any market.

The MG B is ever-present. Ubiquitous, even. The problem is that they do rather reek of the string-back glove and the pork pie. It would clearly have to be a radical transformation. Inspiration came in the form of a silver-ish speedster, the Goblin Works Garage car pictured above. I was a little concerned that the concept seemed a little philosophically cold. Also, I don’t want to copy another car. It did give me a couple of ideas though. You will see above a Ferrari 166 Barchetta and the Pininfarina-bodied Alfa Romeo 6c 3000 CM Superflow IV. This seemed like a good idea, so I bought the above MG B and undertook the necessary research.

Barchetta is pronounced with a ‘K’ sound and describes a small, stylish rowing boat. It’s the boat Italians have in mind when they tell you to stick a boat up your arse with the oars out. I want that passion, not silver efficiency. Electric cars are exciting.

Lexus-based electric conversion, obviously.

There will be a distinct 50s/60s vibe about the beast. It’ll stay red, and it’ll keep the wire wheels. From the outside the most noticeable thing will be the lowered windscreen. The Goblin Works car has a plastic screen, which is only legal if you’re looking over it. There are more photos of the GWG car here:

I propose a different approach. I’d like to cut down a standard, laminated screen:

The screen on an MGB Roadster is an aluminium frame which bolts-in at either end. I suspect a modified frame would suffice. If it does not, we’ll prototype and scan a new frame which obscures the (removed) wiper spindles and washer jets. I’d favour an increased rake in this case. The quarter-lights come-out in the same way and there will be a finishing piece covering the tops of the side windows and removed winder. It will be possible to put a conventional screen, windows and hard/soft tops back for winter use. We will engineer systems for making this simpler. That way this is an all-season car. For the summer it’s a barchetta with a tonneau cover. For Spring and Autumn it’s a conventional convertible. In the winter it’s a closed coupe with the added benefit of not being trapped in a tiny cabin with 19th century engine technology.

The electric conversion will require a little strengthening in the drivetrain. I want this, front and rear. We’ll find a disk brake kit that fits in the standard wheels.

While the front crossmember is out we’ll add mountings for both left and right-hand-drive. Here’s a good overview of what’s involved.

Bodywork is going to be a key issue: I don’t want it to look like an MBG, there will be no string-back gloves, and it is not ‘the old girl’.

Is the likely supplier. They do wings with headlight cowls, as per the above Alfa, which combine with bumper-replacement panels, as pictured above. There is no need to change any of the sheet metal parts. The wings and bumpers bolt on.

Inside there’ll be weather-proof quilted flooring in body-colour. There’ll be no centre console  and obviously no gear lever. I’m considering a completely custom, aircraft-style dash. it’ll only need a speedo and a digital gauge for power-use and battery life. There will be toggle switches. The existing seats will be reupholstered in biscuit-coloured yacht upholstery.

That’s just an example of the materials available and the weather-proofing concept.

I’m still considering roll hoops.

Importantly, there will be this.

There’s likely to be a scratch-built loom using a system I'm designing in parallel. It won’t be complicated.

To finish it off, here are some environmentally-friendly-ish products which will make it nice and shiny. They also do a clear underbody sealer which will mean it can be driven, and be museum-quality.

Legal matters: This is a bit of a pain, but one we will overcome.

As described above the car only scores 7 out of the required 8 points. For this reason, and because it’s the basis of the business I’m trying to build, the car will have a modular electric installation. There will be a pallet containing the degreased mechanical components we’ve removed, with modern connectors and dry-break lines. I’m hoping that’ll keep the civil servants out of my face. I could compromise and retain the existing suspension, but I’m not sure that’ll be good enough. There is a five-link option, which is near-enough the same price. 

Note Please: This is how not how I'm going to do it.

It's a lovely car, but we are NOT building an electric MGB. We’re building a bespoke, electric barchetta.

I’d consider building similar cars on other base cars. They will be distinct products.

The Barchetta: List
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