Ford’s F-100 truck inspires enthusiasts to build an electric restomod

This 1978 Ford F-100 “Eluminator” pickup truck is the oldest vehicle I’ve ever driven, and perhaps the newest. That’s because, despite its vintage exterior, everything inside, from the drivetrain to the dashboard, is less than a year old. Oh, and it’s completely electric.

Turns out what I’m actually driving is a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, but you can’t tell the difference from the 44 year old truck shell restored from the outside. It’s a beautifully done restomod with fresh gray and copper accents, F-100 Custom badge, and slick retro wheels.

Ford Performance, the automaker’s motorsport division, designed and commissioned the F-100 Eluminator and was built by MLe Racecars in Washington. And like many other Ford Performance one-off projects, this F-100 will not be available for purchase. It only exists as an auto show car showcasing what can be made using Ford’s $4,095 electric crate motor, which makes it even easier to turn an old gas waster into an electric car.

That’s great news for enthusiasts looking to update classic cars without the carbon emissions they’re supposed to produce, as well as small companies that specialize in this kind of custom work. Zelectric Motors builds electric Porsches using Tesla’s donor motors, and luxury converters like the Everrati have their motors custom made. But now that electric crate motors are available from major automakers like Ford, it’s a hopeful display of support for small shops and toy makers looking to modify their own vehicles.

Our very own Becca Farsace made a whole video on how this is also a big statement for the right to fix the movement. He spoke with Chris Salvo, CEO of Electrified Garage and Kyle Wiens of iFixit about the matter. Let me see!

Many companies like Tesla have historically made it difficult for small shops and skilled owners to repair their own electric cars by locking software and not providing spare parts easily. But that hasn’t stopped creators like Rich Rebuilds on YouTube from fixing their own cars. Another YouTuber, Simone Giertz, modified her Model 3 into a truck even though the company has a record of blocking cars from supercharging.

Ford’s approach seems more friendly to repair people, the crate motors sold are the same as those on the Mach-E. “It’s great to see who’s excited and wants something like this,” said Ford Performance marketing specialist Autumn Schwalbe.

The e-crate motors on offer from Ford were quickly running out of stock, but they were back in production and available for purchase. Ford could make the effort seem sweeter if it offered more parts that would make custom EV builds easier, such as a full battery and drivetrain. “We’re working on making a few more parts for use with the bike, but nothing has been revealed yet,” said Schwalbe.

Blending the F-100 and Mach-E together is no easy task. This involves tuning the truck for performance and adjusting the suspension to support paved roads. It has two motors, making the F-100 Eluminator capable of 480 horsepower and 634 lb-ft of torque, and a new coated tailgate for haulage. There’s no tow package installed because this electric pickup truck isn’t about service life – Ford has that side covered with a real workhorse F-150 Lightning electric truck.

You get all the Mach-E features like a 10.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, a digital dashboard, a gearshift button, a cordless phone charger, and a modern seat. But you won’t forget that you’re in a vintage truck: there’s an original flappy door glove compartment and you have to turn the window to open and close it.

The Mach-E’s interior hardware and software is preserved, but you get the cool F-100 logo on the steering wheel.
Becca Farsace / The Verge

It’s a shame that you can’t buy the F-100 Elluminator — just as you can’t buy a Hyundai Heritage Series Grandeur EV based on a design from the 80s. But Ford at least let’s drive this one. We were amazed at how quickly it happened. The truck certainly caught the attention of passersby, who were taken aback by its dazzling presence as we drove it around town. People started asking about its age and price — that’s when we explained it to them: “It’s completely electric too.”

The following questions were all too familiar to me: “So no gas at all?” “How long does it take to charge?” “How far is the journey?” It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter that this is a one-off vintage restomod truck, what really matters is what’s inside. It is an electric car and people are still in the early stages of understanding it.

We need more of this project. We need to maximize the life of every vehicle produced. The entire process for building a new car, from mining the materials to manufacturing, is an emissions-heavy process, be it electric or not. Studies have shown that the entire lifespan of a new EV is still cleaner for the environment than combustion engine vehicles – even if the EV is charged exclusively on dirty grids.

The solution to cleaning up the ride is better public transport, but the next best thing is car electrification and the best way to do that is to repurpose the old one and convert it into an EV restomod. Our own transport editor, Andrew Hawkins, writes about how manufacturers need to shut up and ship EVs, and it looks like 2022 will be the year to ship them. And if automakers still don’t ship cars, at least they can ship more of these parts. Then we can build our own EVs, and pray that they don’t do anything to stop us.

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