Lunaz might be a familiar name to you if you are more likely to read Hello! than Classic Car magazine. The company, which is based near the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire, converts very expensive classic cars to electric drive.
Lunaz was thrust into the celeb pages earlier in the year because someone called Brooklyn Beckham got married, and his dad gave him a car. This was a Lunaz-converted Jaguar XK140 that would have cost his father six figures.
For those who don’t know, ‘dad’ is David Beckham, a retired footballer. He married a one-time pop singer called Victoria Adams, whose band, the Spice Girls, was quite popular, and earned her the sobriquet of ‘Posh Spice.’ Brooklyn Beckham calls her ‘mum.’ His wedding attracted quite a lot of interest in the press, and was a useful piece of product placement for Lunaz.
Mind you, Beckham snr probably got a staff discount for his son’s electric Jag, as he’s a Lunaz shareholder, last year investing in a 10 per cent stake in the business. And he’s not the only man called David associated with it.
Better than a toaster - Brooklyn Beckham's wedding present from dad David.
Lunaz was founded by David Lorenz in 2018. With a background in the hospitality industry, on paper Lorenz was an unlikely person to buy into classic electric conversions. However, he owns a collection of old vehicles including a venerable Mercedes, which broke down in London when his small daughter was travelling in the car. Stuck by the roadside, Lorenz pondered what would make the car more reliable, concluded that throwing away its fossil fuelled drive train and replacing it with electric traction was the answer. He also thought this might make an interesting business opportunity, and Lunaz Design was born.
Incidentally, Lunaz’s MD and technical director, Jon Hilton, is president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and knows a bit about vehicle power trains. In the mid 2000s he was technical director for Renault’s F1 team, when it won the world championship.
According to Lunaz commercial director James Warren, giving treasured, collectable old cars electric heart transplants isn’t vandalising industrial archaeology - although some enthusiasts think that’s just what it is - but could be the start of a broader social trend to apply similar vehicular surgery to less coveted ICE models. However, this labour intensive activity comes at a price if Lunaz artisans are involved. The work will set an old school, classic Range-Rover owner back £290,000. Similar work on a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud or a Jaguar XK sportscar will add another £100,000 to the Range-Rover price, but this is small beer compared to the £960,000 Lunaz quotes for working on an Aston Martin DB6, although it does include a donor car. It’s unlikely that you could fund one of these conversions with a monthly PCP.
Electric transplants come at a price. Which can be seven figures for an Aston, Bentley or Rolls
The redundant mechanical bits Lunaz removes aren’t chucked into a skip. They either find their way into other old vehicles whose owners are reluctant to give up smoking in the emissions sense, are stored for re-use or end up as decorative objects in people’s homes. Warren mentioned a coffee table made out of old car innards. Lunaz reckons about three quarters of a car’s original components are retained once its work is done.
'We have all got to accept that the world is moving to cleaner power,” said Warren. “We want future generations to see old cars enjoyed and driven. We’re furthering the legacy of these cars and we do that with enormous respect.” When he spoke to us fifty cars were currently under the knife in the Lunaz workshops, and orders were being taken into next year.
Lunaz has also taken the idea of re-purposing older vehicles with an application that might be described as rubbish. It plans to give used dustcarts and working vehicles such as fire engines a battery electric makeover and full refurbishment. According to the Commercial Fleet website, Lunaz hopes to re-manufacture upwards of 1,000 working vehicles a year from 2023, and the company claims to have orders from local authorities already in the bag.
Lunaz is busy, with around 50 cars currently undergoing the electric heart transplant
Visit the Lunaz website and you will see video footage of an elderly Rolls trundling round the Silverstone race circuit in the company of a dustcart. Both use electric control and drive systems designed in house by Lunaz, which claims these, erm, diverse vehicles will have had equally thorough engineering makeovers.
Based on a Mercedes lorry chassis, the reconstituted Lunaz refuse truck is designed to show how commercial vehicles like these can undergo refurbishment rather than be replaced. As well as battery power, it has binned wing mirrors for cameras, and boasts ‘side-facing RADAR,’ the better to see its crew from the driver’s cab.
So, the vehicle collecting your recycling could itself soon be recycled, but unlike the Lunaz electric Rolls-Royce, its interior is unlikely to feature folding rosewood picnic tables.
Rolls, Bentley and a rubbish Mercedes have all been Lunazified