Vintage Voltage

Supercars of the future

Petrol head Richard ‘Moggy’ Morgan talks all things classic and modern in this exclusive interview with the master mechanic who transforms vintage cars into electric dreams. Vintage Voltage is coming to QUEST on the 25th June at 8pm weekly, so you can get strapped in for even more excitement. Who knows? You may find yourself second guessing the petrol car you’ve got parked outside...

Do you think electric cars are the future? 

MOGGY: I think they’re the future now. Very few aspects of the car industry are growing, apart from electric cars. The sales of electric cars are growing exponentially, not just in the UK but across the world. So I don’t think saying it’s the future is an accurate representation of what’s actually happening right now. Our generation is seeing the transformation from internal combustion engines to electric. It’s the same as my parents’ generation which saw the transition of steam engines to petrol and diesel engines, or from propeller aeroplanes to jet areoplanes. I think in twenty years' time, most cars will be electric, even in five years' time in the UK if you’re buying a new car and you’re not seriously considering electric, I think there’s something very wrong 😂 There’s something so much better about electric cars. They’re easier to drive, less maintenance and they’re better for the environment. The only negative right now is that they’re a little bit more expensive than their petrol or diesel equivalent. But as soon as that becomes cost comparative, then I think it’s a no-brainer to go with electric.

Do you think driving tests in the UK will be rewired?  

MOGGY: It’s funny you ask that, because my son is 15, and we were off-roading the other day in a field and it was his first experience trying to drive a petrol/diesel vehicle. He’s driven an electric one on private land before, but this was a first. And as we all found out when we started to learn clutch, breaking point, stalling if you gave it too much rev, kangaroo hopping etc., it’s quite difficult to learn. Electric is so much easier, and he asked me that exact same question.  

The answer is I don’t know! I honestly don’t know if you can just do an electric car test, because you should be able to! By the time he’s 17 in a few years' time, that generation won't be thinking they must have a petrol or diesel, I think they’re all going to be drawn towards electric cars. Why would they want an alien-like experience of learning clutch control, when they’re all going to be driving electric! Very good question, I don’t know the answer, but I hope it changes soon! 

Do you think this could be the future for car buyers that want that authentic aesthetic, with added safety? 

MOGGY: It certainly gives people the option. If you’re a car enthusiast and you love classic cars but wouldn’t want it as your daily driving car because of the safety issues and the difficulty to maintain it (you don’t know which end of a spanner is which etc.), these things put you off from wanting a classic old Mini or something cool like that. But now you can have a classic looking Mini and I'll replace the old stuff with an electric system from a Tesla for example, so it’ll be highly reliable like a modern electric car, easy to drive, because essentially it’s ‘stop’ and ‘go’, and you don’t have to do any maintenance with it – would you consider it then? And a lot of people probably would. So I think what we’re doing is giving people the option of having a classic car and all the positives that come with that, without the negatives of having to maintain it or knowing what to do to tune it up. 

I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say I’d love to own that red Ferrari - do you have a favourite out of the cars you’ve revamped? 

MOGGY: Agreed! I think the one that I was most surprised by, one I was skeptical about, but was pleasantly surprised by was the motorbike. I’m not a motorbike guy, I don’t even have a motorbike license, so to take on that project was a challenge for me, so I'd say that was the most interesting to come out with a positive outcome. But I think that my favourite car that we converted from a driving perspective is going to have to be a toss-up between the Ferrari and the Land Rover. The Ferrari has absolutely mental acceleration, I’ve never been in a car quite the same, you know I nearly snapped my neck because of the acceleration, so that was amazing. But I love the Land Rover because: 

a. it also has crazy acceleration  

b. you can drive over a mountain in it 

So those are my two favourites. I remember my cheeks aching because I was smiling the whole time driving them! As much as I’d like to keep them, we get so many customer cars coming in and out and they always have to go back to the customers. 

What was the most challenging thing you came across while working on these projects? 

MOGGY: The Fiat 500 was a challenge because it’s so small, so there’s a lot of challenges around small cars to fit things like batteries in. But I think the biggest challenge was the motorbike, because I’ve never done a motorbike before, obviously with a motorbike there isn’t much space, but equally something that we’ve never had to deal with before because it’s all on show. You can convert a classic car to an electric, and you can hide the motor underneath the bonnet, and you can hide the batteries in the boot, nobody sees it. But with a motorbike everything is on show, so it’s all got to look pretty good, as well as be packaged quite well because it’s small. We also used something that we’ve never used before called a hub-motor, and they’re actually placed in the wheel, so there was a lot of new things we had to deal with in the motorbike episode that I’d never done with a car, so that was probably technically the biggest challenge. 

You say the Lamborghini Countach isn’t the nicest car to drive (before you electrified it) due to the little leg room it provides. What would you say is the nicest vintage car to drive in its original state? 

 

MOGGY: The BMW 02. It’s one of the best handling classic cars out there, in fact I think BMWs tagline was ‘the ultimate driving experience’. Some of their earlier cars were hitting the mark there, and some of their later models have sort of forgotten what their ethos is all about. The BMW 02 is actually better than it was now it’s electric! 

After revamping all your cars, what would you say improved the most? 

MOGGY: The one that was improved the most was the Karmann. The Karmann Ghia is a beautiful car to look at, but not that nice to drive because it once had a wheezy engine in the back, all the weight was in the back, so going round corners it’s quite light on the front, meaning it’s not a great car for performance and handling, but a great car to look at. But then when we electrified it, and put a nice powerful electric motor in, and we put battery packs up front and the rear to balance out the weight, that now goes around corners fantastically, and breaks really nicely as well because the motor has what’s called regenerative breaking which helps to break the car, so now it’s got the power to match the looks.  

What price range do these cars fall under now they’ve been remastered?  

MOGGY: It varies because we deal with everybody, from people that are going to be using these cars as an everyday car in London, like an electric Fiat 500 that they use every day, right the way through to people that want to spend a lot of money having the fastest Ferrari 308 on the planet, and you don’t necessarily drive something with as brutal an acceleration as that as an everyday car, and the budgets reflect that. So the prices can range from £20,000-25,000 all the way up to cars that are worth over £100,000.  

Watch Vintage Voltage on QUEST on Channel 167 every Thursday at 8pm. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter so you never miss the latest telly scoops.