An example of the Nissan Bluebird has been extensively modified to integrate the Leaf’s electric drivetrain. The original petrol combustion engine and gearbox were removed and an EV motor, inverter and 40 kWh battery pack installed, with the battery modules split between the engine bay and boot for optimised weight distribution.
Updates and modifications were made to the power steering, braking and heating systems to enable them to be electrically powered. A custom suspension was also installed to support the additional weight from the battery packs.
As a nod to the car’s electric updates, the original Nissan bonnet badge received a LED backlight (for when the vehicle is static).
The car is recharged through the original fuel flap, which provides access to the charging port. The battery can be recharged at up to 6,6 kW and the original driver instrument panel has been connected to the EV system to enable the fuel gauge to show the battery state of charge.
Although not homologated, the vehicle’s range from a single charge is estimated at around 210 km subject to environmental factors and driving style with a 0-100 km/h time of just under 15 seconds.
For the exterior of the vehicle, Nissan Design Europe, based in London, created a new graphic motif inspired by design cues of 1980s consumer technology, combined with a 21st century aesthetic.
The conversion was project-managed by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, a family-run company based in Durham, North East England, just 25 km from the Sunderland plant. Kinghorn EV specialises in the conversion of classic cars to full electric using second-life Nissan Leaf motors, inverters & batteries.
George Kinghorn said “Given our location so close to the Sunderland plant, working on this Bluebird conversion was a great project to be part of. When Nissan opened the Sunderland factory it gave the North East a big economic boost. The Bluebird was first off the line, so it represents the start of that optimism, progress and global industrial footprint that’s continued to this day.”
George continued; “Electric vehicles are not just the future, they’re the now! Converting older vehicles to electric gives you everyday use of these iconic vintage models, but they’re just as enjoyable to drive, they’re more reliable and importantly don’t produce harmful emissions when driving. With this project we think we’ve created a car that captures the soul of the Nissan Bluebird, with the heart of a Nissan Leaf.”