Even before electric vehicles became mainstream, there have been several individuals converting old cars to run on battery power. Such projects have been met with different degrees of success, but it’s not hard to understand why they get done in the first place. Classic cars tug on the heartstrings, spurring enthusiasts to keep them running for as long as possible. But it’s different when the vehicle’s manufacturer itself does this, and Nissan is the latest one to join the trend with the Bluebird-based “Newbird.”
In celebration of its Sunderland, UK plant’s 35th anniversary, Nissan shoehorned the Leaf‘s electric powertrain into the first vehicle the facility ever produced, the T12 Bluebird. Here, it tapped the expertise of specialist of Kinghorn Electric Vehicles to do the conversion properly. This included making modifications to ensure the safety and reliability of the steering, braking and heating systems.
On the exterior, the front Nissan logo gets illuminated. Some 1980s-inspired decals have been put on. Of course, the Bluebird’s rear nameplate has been changed into the Newbird. The interior fortunately remains the same, save for a selector dial that takes the place of the gear stick. Pop the hood and you’ll find the Leaf’s power unit, while the cargo area contains the battery pack.
Nissan claims that the one-off Newbird can do 209km on a single charge, and reach 100km/h in 15 seconds. These figures are quite underwhelming, but both the Leaf and the Bluebird weren’t conceived as fast cars in the first place. More than anything, the Newbird fuses the Sunderland plant’s past, present and future into one vehicle.
Which classic model would you like Nissan to turn into an electric vehicle next?