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Classic cars get a second life at electric vehicle show

Tim Harrison's Volkswagen Kombi is about to turn 50 years old but its engine is many generations younger.

The iconic 1973 vehicle, on show at the Fully Charged Live event in Sydney, has been converted into a thoroughly modern electric vehicle in a move its owner hopes will give it another 50 years on the road.

And the vehicle is not the only one, with industry experts saying more electric conversion kits are under development to bring new life to old cars.

Mr Harrison said his Kombi, which took three years to restore and convert, ran on a motor salvaged from a wrecked Model X, giving it more torque than before.

"It's got a Tesla motor in the back in place of where the VW gearbox and motor was," he said.

"It's in the in the original space and there's no modifications to the to the Volkswagen at all."

Batteries fitted beneath the van gave the vehicle 350 kilometres of range, Mr Harrison said, as well as powering modern conveniences such as air-conditioning, an automatic gearbox and, eventually, a reversing camera.

It's the second car the Evie Networks project manager has converted on his weekends, after renovating a Ford Cortina Mark 1, and Mr Harrison said he would consider renting the vehicles to driving enthusiasts to ensure they enjoyed productive second lives.

"I do it because I just love the old cars and nothing can replicate those classic shiny VWs," he said.

"Modern cars are great as well but there's always going to be a fascination for the classics and making them quicker, more reliable and easier to use, get them out on the road more and I think that's great for both users and for everyone else to enjoy."

Basic electric car conversions can cost $50,000, putting the transition out of reach for many.

But Fellten chief executive Chris Hazell said the company was developing "drop-in systems" for some classic cars to make the process easier and cheaper for enthusiasts.

Modernising classic cars with electric engines could also prove to be a healthy investment, he said.

"You can go and buy a new EV but it will depreciate in value year on year, it will lose money," Mr Hazell said.

"If you convert a classic, it is going to continually go up in value. It's an asset that you don't necessarily lose money on."

Australian Electric Vehicle Association spokesman Michael Day said only passionate car buffs would embark on classic car conversions now but the attitude towards modernised vehicles was changing.

"What we had two months ago was people would come look at my car and sneer," he said.

"Now you can get the components, there's people there that can support you, and people are getting it. The amount of conversations and the type of conversations we're having now are completely different."