Land Rover Series IIa 1971 Conversion
A Lucky Meeting
By Barnaby Birkbeck
Founder of Electric Car Converts
There’s nothing more full of nostalgic charm than a Series IIa Land Rover. Our client, Nick, wanted his converted to electric – to match his house that ran on solar + Tesla Powerwall, and the various EV’s his family drove. He felt he couldn’t give up his trusty old Landy but couldn’t live with the smoke billowing out the tailpipe!
As it happened, both Nick and the Electric Car Converts team were at the same Land Rover meetup, the Rover Social at Loseley Park in Surrey. He visited our stand and saw a Series IIa that we had converted prior and was taken aback by the neatness and simplicity of the system, and then the reasonable price that we offered. We left Nick to ponder, whilst he waited for a slot to test drive one of our demo vehicles.
Acceleration (0-60 mph)
Funnily enough, Nick then took his Land Rover on the offroading course at the same social. Almost right on cue, his fuel pump failed – and he got stranded halfway up a hill. If that wasn’t a sign to go ahead with the conversion – we don’t know what would be! Nick signed on the dotted line shortly after and started us off on the conversion.
Converting the Landy
Before we could decide on how the conversion was to be done, we needed to understand how the Land Rover would be used. Nick explained to us that he wanted to use the car for pootling around the country lanes in Cornwall, where he had a holiday home. Short shopping trips, pub visits and occasionally towing his small boat down to the water. He was clear with us that he wanted to use his Landy when his other vehicles weren’t up for the job, after all, a modern EV would be a little useless on a sandy track down to the beach!
To meet this requirement, we settled on our Netgain Hyper 9 conversion system, giving the car a range of around 100 miles. While we set to work designing the conversion kit, the car itself was sent off to Steve Toyer Ltd for a full factory-finish restoration. This included a respray, rebuilding the gear and transfer boxes, new brakes and panels.
Our kit consisted of 7 Tesla Model S batteries, for a total battery storage of 44KWh, inside our custom made front mounted battery box. We also provided a new radiator system for cooling, housed inside a laser cut surround to match the original. Additionally there was a control box to sit under the floor in the rear, as the engine bay was now full of batteries and a motor. The car could now take charge from any standard EV charge point, as well as being able to charge at home.
8 months later, when the car had arrived back with us after its restoration, we set to work replacing the original engine with our custom kit. As keeping the feel and character of the car was important to Nick, we opted to connect the new motor to the original 4-speed manual gearbox, along with utilizing the original flywheel and clutch mechanisms. This arrangement meant that we could still allow for the manual gear changes, 2 or 4 wheel drive selection and high/low ratio, in keeping with a classic Land Rover.
Of course, the conversion to electric meant making a once gas-guzzling car emissions free, however the new components also delivered a substantial boost to overall performance, with the 0-60 time falling from 25 seconds to just 12. The new components also offered Nick and his family peace of mind, knowing that they’d be far less likely to run into engine trouble in the future.
A Beloved Workhorse
This pristine Series IIa has been used over the winter for all the things that you’d expect of a Land Rover in Surrey, including horse towing, offroading and school runs through the country lanes. As spring comes around she will be moved west, for even more summer fun to be had with the canvas roof taken off!