British EV specialist RBW has been in the business of converting classic cars to run electric powertrains for a while now, but has recently leapt into bespoke automaking by announcing the MGB-inspired RBW Electric Classic Roadster. Just note that this electric sports car is a far cry from MG’s original affordable classic—it’s an extremely luxurious option, costing five times what an original Roadster would now but with a lot of modern technology.
Now owned by China’s SAIC, MG itself has been making relatively affordable, modern EVs for a while now, but it never got as far as revisiting the classic roadster, a 1960s icon that was immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
The good news is this MGB can roll up to the Goodwood Revival in a more sustainable way (ecologically, albeit not financially) without any old chassis even having to get gutted. And it’s got fancy digital dashboards and you can choose your own leather upholstery in 14 different colors; retrofuturism at its most totally self-indulgent.
Which is the whole point. The idea of creating the Roadster was inspired by RBW’s MD, Peter Swain, who had an MGB when he was just 17 and presumably, extremely cool. Although it’s a distinctly British icon, the MGB was popular worldwide and 90 percent of the 500,000 cars made were shipped overseas.
RBW moved into car production with a reported £2 million ($2.6 million) investment and has collaborated with serious players like Continental (who became a founding partner in the electric off-road series Extreme E last year) to build the car.
Reportedly priced from $116,000 upwards, it’s not a cheap option. Especially since although it does beat the classic it’s modeled on, in speed terms, it taps out at 80 mph with a reasonably pedestrian nine-second 0-60 mph time. But then, who needs to go fast when people could be admiring you?
The car comes with a base 160-mile range setup, with an option to extend to 200 miles if you purchase an additional battery. The Roadster uses a modular battery system, supplied by industrial specialists Hyperdrive, with six units in the basic spec and a possible range extension to eight.
It’s got a seven-inch touchscreen and all the usual USB ports and navigation, too. But if you’re looking to drop six figures on this, that’s probably not hugely relevant compared to what it evokes, which is the classic style of the car it’s inspired by. The pre-production car is up and running, as shown in the video above and you can book a test drive (strictly by appointment) where RBW will bring the car to you.
If you’re not extremely wealthy and don’t mind a 20 mph speed deficit, a genuine classic MGB will set you back £18,000 (about $23,487) and you’ll probably look just as cool—once you refit the interior in the lurid leather of your dreams.
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