Is This All-Electric Vintage Land Cruiser Brilliant, Or Bizarre?

Vintage off-roaders are woefully fuel-inefficient. Electric “crate engines” may fix that.


Vintage off-road vehicles may be the most charming cars on the road, and the prices painstakingly-restored versions can command testify to that fact. But your Land Cruisers, Defenders, Broncos and Jeep CJs all come with a significant drawback: they are woefully fuel-inefficient, and that isn’t improving with age.

Los Angeles-based electric car creator and modifier Electric GT, the builders of the first all-electric Ferrari, hope to address that issue with electric modular crate engines. Their first build, nearing completion, is a 1970 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser.

In effect, Electric GT will 3D-scan the engine bay and create an electric engine that mimics the size and shape (if not the noise) of the original. The unit will be designed to interact with the stock components the way the stock engine would have. (For example, for the 1970 FJ40, it will still use the three-speed column shifter.)

Per the build thread, the original plans for this electric Land Cruiser wound up being scaled back a bit. The electric powertrain in the FJ40 will be a dual-motor setup, putting out a combined 140 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque — a moderate improvement over the 1970 FJ40 gas engine that made 125 horsepower and 209 pound-feet of torque when new. It will use 36 kWh of Tesla batteries for an expected range of 75–95 miles — still reasonable for beach runs.

Expect electric conversions to become more popular with classic cars like the FJ40 moving forward, as the technology becomes both more efficient and cheaper. If environmental guilt and the performance advantages do not entice owners to go electric, potential legislation and fuel taxes in the coming decades could. After all, swapping in a more powerful and reliable Chevy V8 is already a common modification for these vintage vehicles. Electric conversion may not be that much of a stretch.

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