Total 911 – Tim Pitt – Porsche 911 kit

“It catapults out of corners, piling on speed in a seamless, head-spinning rush.  If you had this RS replica for daily commuting, then a real 2.7 RS for weekends, you might have the ultimate two-911 garage.” 

Original article published in the March 2023 Total 911 Issue 229 

Green party

Electrogenic has developed a ‘drop-in’ kit to convert the classic 911 into an EV. Total 911 is among the first to drive it. 

When we drove Everrati’s restomod 964 two years ago (Total 911, issue 207), the idea of an electrified 911 seemed deeply divisive. Since then, registrations of new electric cars have soared 54 percent, numerous brands – from Ford to Bentley – have committed to going fully EV by 2030, and the Taycan has regularly been Porsche GB’s best-seller. Perhaps a battery-powered 911 is no longer quite so controversial?  

“We’ve definitely seen a change,” says Vic Crofts, head of marketing at Electrogenic. “People used to ask us why you would convert a classic car to electric power. Now they ask us how to do it.” We’ll get to the why later, as it remains a valid question. But first let’s focus on the how, because Electrogenic’s new ‘drop-in’ EV conversion kit is the real story here.  

Much like for the Neunelfer itself, it all begins with the Volkswagen Beetle. Back in 2017, Electrogenic co-founder Steve Drummond decided to electrify his classic VW. Three years later, I drove the company’s first customer car: a lovingly restored ’63 Beetle with Tesla battery modules, fast charging capability and a range of 140 miles. ‘Bertie’ felt like a curio at the time, but he was the start of something much bigger.  

Today, Electrogenic’s workshop – located near Oxford and led by senior mechanic Oli Cook, formerly of Theon Design – converts around 12-15 classic cars a year. All its hardware (and software) is now bespoke. One of Cook’s notable innovations has been to combine an electric motor with a traditional manual gearbox, best exemplified by the four-speed Porsche 356C Coupe that appeared in the press and at various car shows last summer.  

The real turning point for Electrogenic, though, came amidst the mud, sweat and beers of Glastonbury 2022. Worthy Farm, home of Britain’s most famous music festival, wanted to ‘upcycle’ its fleet of old Land Rovers, so Electrogenic developed a simple conversion that retained the original gearbox and drivetrain. The fitted cost of £24,000 plus VAT could be offset against estimated fuel savings of £6,000 a year.  

In the weeks after Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar and Greentea Peng (no, me neither) had all gone home, Electrogenic was flooded with enquiries about its electric Defenders. It established a network of trained installers and started selling two kits: one aimed at agricultural users, the other more road-focused. Now the company hopes to replicate that success with a ‘plug-and-play’ EV conversion kit for our favourite German sports car.  

Offered for the G-J series 911 and 964 models, the ‘Powered by Electrogenic’ kit arrives in several large plywood boxes and comprises front and rear battery packs, the electric motor, a reduction gearbox, custom drive shafts, cables, control modules and a modified rear subframe. Fitting should take around 15 days, including removal of the original engine, with a total cost in the region of £100,000 (plus the donor car, of course).  

As with the Defender, Electrogenic offers two options. The E62 kit combines a 62kWh battery with a 160kW motor: good for 220hp, 312Nm of torque and 0-62mph in ‘less than five seconds’. Spending an extra £20,000 on the ‘truly thrilling’ E62s upgrade gets you a 240kW motor, which serves up 320hp, 420Nm and 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds – only four tenths slower than a new 992 GT3. Top speed for both versions is around 120mph.  

More practically, Electrogenic’s conversion offers a realistic range of 180-200 miles, while 50kW charging capability means a full fill-up takes an hour at a public rapid charger. Charging from empty with a 7kW home wallbox requires around seven hours, or more like 12 hours via a three-pin plug. For comparison, the Porsche Taycan can charge at 270kW and offers a WLTP-certified range of up to 301 miles.  

This particular 911 started life as a 1985 Carrera 3.2, but has been backdated to resemble a 1973 2.7 RS. Commissioned by a London-based customer, it’s fitted with the ‘standard’ E62 kit. Our rendez-vous takes place at Bicester Heritage, a decommissioned military base and now the epicentre of Britain’s classic car industry, where Electrogenic has its second home. Being resident here affords access to the on-site airfield, which is where we’re headed next…  

Lurking beside one of Bicester’s rusted iron warehouses, the electric 911 does a decent impression of the Rennsport icon. Long of bonnet and ducked of tail, it wears the requisite chrome brightwork and rides on dished Fuchs alloys. Its Irish Green paint also looks period-correct, being part of the Porsche palette from the 911’s inception in 1964 until the SC arrived in 1978. Regular readers of Total 911 will, naturally, recognise it as the colour of editor Lee’s modified 996, but it was also applied to 12 examples of the ’73 RS (out of 1,590 cars in total).  

Get up close and you spot the absent ‘2.7’ badge on the engine grille and, more tellingly, the lack of an exhaust pipe. There’s also a flip-open CCS charging port beside the rear number plate (“The fuel flap wasn’t large enough to accommodate it,” explains Electrogenic engineer Alexander Bavage) along with a slightly raised ride height, needed to compensate for the extra 120kg on board.  

For a Carrera 3.2 Carrera in standard spec, that represents an increase in kerb weight of around 10 percent. However, circa. 1,330kg is still pretty slender for an electric car (the lightest Taycan tips the scales at 2,130kg), especially when you consider the motor’s additional torque. “We decided against a huge battery cooling system in order to save weight,” says boss Drummond. “Our customers typically only use CCS rapid-charging once every couple of months, so it isn’t necessary.”  

The modest gains in both weight and output offered by the E62 conversion also keep costs in-check, by obviating the need to modify other components. The 911 still has its standard disc brakes (now with an electric servo) and torsion bar suspension. Stepping up to the E62s kit, which has more power than a 930 Turbo 3.3, would arguably require a few upgrades.  

Inside, the Electrogenic 911 also, quite deliberately, looks much as Zuffenhausen intended. The seats are retrimmed in rich caramel leather, plus there’s a dished Momo steering wheel with a yellow centre-marker and lightweight door cards with later RS-style fabric pull-straps. It feels purposeful, albeit very comfortable. The rear seats are retained, too.  

The 911’s five-dial dashboard looks standard, but the original clocks have been cleverly repurposed. The former fuel gauge now shows the state of battery charge, oil temperature is actually motor temperature, water temperature is charger temperature, and the oil pressure gauge reveals the level of energy regeneration. Later, back at the workshop, Bavage shows me a work-in-progress digital display that condenses all this information onto one customisable screen, but I rather like the analogue approach. If you want lots of screens, buy a Taycan.  

Under each side of the dashboard are two small boxes: a pair of 400-volt electric heaters. “They warm the cabin far more quickly than relying on an air-cooled engine,” says Bavage. “The heat is instant.” Easily the most obvious departure from a stock 911, though, is the Jaguar-style rotary gear selector between the seats. “We can offer a normal, automatic-style lever,” Bavage adds, “but this customer liked the ease of a three-position switch.”  

You will note that, unlike the 356, this car doesn’t have a manual transmission. That’s because the Carrera’s five-speed 915 ’box can’t handle the extra grunt of the electric motor (the 356 only mustered 120hp and 235Nm), so the car has a single-speed auto with a straightforward choice of Neutral, Drive or Reverse. Electrogenic can also offer selectable drive modes – Eco, Traffic and Sport, which adjust the throttle response and level of lift-off regen – but again, this owner chose to keep things simple. “It’s basically in Sport mode all the time,” says Bavage with a grin.  

‘Simple’ really is the word when it comes to driving an electric car. Switch on the ignition, put your foot on the brake, select Drive and then glide away in eerie near-silence. The experience feels quite disconcerting when you’re looking over the fulsome front wings of a classic 911, with floor-hinged pedals underfoot and an RS ducktail bobbing in the mirror. Where is the drama and excitement?  

That arrives when you squeeze more forcefully on the right pedal. Another common characteristic of EVs is performance – and plenty of it. As I swing onto the back straight at Bicester, it feels like an enormous hand has scooped up the little Porsche and hurled it down the runway. Traction on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (OEM fitment for the 992 Carrera) is immense, even with the outside temperature close to zero. With the full 312Nm always on tap, it catapults out of corners, piling on speed in a seamless, head-spinning rush. If anything, it feels even quicker than the figures suggest. The E62s version must be savage.  

Ah yes, you are thinking, but what about that extra 120kg over the back axle? Well, Electrogenic has housed two thirds of the batteries in the 911’s front boot, with the remainder (plus the electric motor) under the engine lid, so front:rear weight distribution is now 49:51 percent – or considerably better balanced than the original Carrera. “This setup gives you more stability and confidence,” says Bavage. “We aim to build cars that are great to drive from an engineering point of view, rather than simply from a purist’s perspective.”  

You still need to strongarm the unassisted steering and take account of the non-ABS brakes, but the Porsche is less eager to break away, and very controllable when it does. Even with no electronic stability aids, this isn’t a car that intimidates close to the limit. The utterly linear response of the electric motor and stepless transmission certainly help here. In the real world – rather than on a racetrack – the car’s compact size is refreshingly liberating, too.  

But does it feel like a 911? That’s a different question. Without the rearward weight bias, the EV doesn’t squat on its haunches so noticeably when you accelerate out of corners, nor does it feel as playful or challenging. Objective improvement has come at the expense of some character.  

That’s nothing compared with the effect of removing the flat-six, though. For me, that breathy and boisterous air-cooled engine is a key constituent of a classic 911. Unlike the clattery old diesel lump in a Defender, or perhaps even the thrummy flat-four in a 356, it’s part of what makes these cars so revered. The high-pitched whine of an electric motor will never make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, no matter how quickly you are going.  

That brings us to the question of why. Electrogenic’s brochure opens with the words: ‘Imagine an E-Type that never goes out of tune. Imagine a Jensen Interceptor that starts every time’ – yet reliability has never been an issue for well-maintained 911s. Granted, running costs for an EV will be lower, but you’ll never make back that £100,000 for the conversion. The environmental argument for replacing an existing engine with brand new batteries, full of rare-earth metals, also seems shaky at best.  

On the other hand, the e-911 is more refined and easier to drive than a classic Carrera – and considerably quicker to boot. It can venture into London without incurring the £12.50-a-day ULEZ charge and is future-proofed for use in other cities around the world. It’s also something a bit different: a talking point even for those with limited interest in cars. If you had this RS replica for daily commuting, then a real 2.7 RS for weekends, you might have the ultimate two-911 garage.  

Electric conversions for the 911 are still controversial, no question. If you’re tempted to take the plunge, though, Electrogenic’s E62 kit is likely the easiest, best executed and – short of sourcing a bunch of batteries from a crashed Tesla – most affordable option. We are told the list of approved installers will soon include several well-known Porsche specialists, so watch this space.  

Model: Electrogenic E62 911 
Year: 1985 
Engine 
Battery pack: 62kWh 
Maximum charging speed: 50kW Maximum power: 220hp 
Maximum torque: 312Nm Transmission: Single-speed automatic  

Suspension  

Front: MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, longitudinal torsion bars Rear: Semi-trailing arms, lateral torsion bars  

Wheels & tyres  

Front: 6×16-inch 205/55/ZR16 Rear: 8×16-inch 225/50/ZR16  

Performance 0-62mph: <5.0sec Top speed: 120mph Weight: 1,300kg  

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