Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver
Ian James Corlett is a self-described Porsche enthusiast, having owned a string of 911s. It's why he selected a 912 as the basis of his project, figuring a more prosaic four-cylinder Porsche would be a less heretical subject for conversion from internal combustion to electric power.
In its day, a mid-'60s 912 blended teardrop Porsche looks with everyday usability and reasonable running costs. A half-century later, even a well-restored model can require careful and continuous maintenance, and a peaky power output of 90 horsepower struggles to keep up with modern traffic.
A light-switch-reactive 120 pound-feet of electric torque makes Corlett's battery-powered 912 as easy to drive as a modern EV. A blend of 911 and Boxster suspension and brake components improves the performance envelope further. The dogleg five-speed manual transmission is retained, and the 1960s lack of sound insulation lets you hear the electric motor whirr under full power. Power is up to 118 horsepower and is far more accessible than with a combustion engine. Further, the car is still light, with a curb weight equivalent to a fully fueled, six-cylinder 911 of the same period.
The original inspiration for the electric 912 was a recalcitrant Vespa. Corlett had dreamed of a Quadrophenia-style Italian scooter in his youth, but the reality was a fussy two-stroke engine that rarely cooperated when a sunny afternoon came along. He converted it to electric and fell in love with the turnkey performance.
His 912 project was not so easy. First, the rusty donor car had more holes than a pasta strainer, and extensive body work on the shell took months to complete. Next, configuring the initial powertrain layout was a trial-and-error process. A slow discharge while stored resulted in a damaged battery pack. Eventually, Corlett crossed paths with the experts at EV West, who reworked the conversion and polished it for reliability. Corlett refers to this version as his 2.0 build. Its front-mounted 25-kWh battery pack gives slightly more than 100 miles of range, ideal for a Sunday morning cruise.
“It's bulletproof,” says Corlett. “I just get in, and it's ready to go.”
Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Corlett moved to Los Angeles several years ago for his work as a voice actor—he's featured in animated series from Dragon Ball Z to G.I. Joe. His electric Porsche first raised eyebrows at local shows but soon proved to be a passport into SoCal car culture.
“This car has opened so many doors for me,” he says.
Potential future plans for the 912 include air conditioning, an upgrade to DC fast-charging, and a longer-range battery pack. For now, the 912 sits on a charger, ready to go at a moment's notice. It offers the looks and the charms of vintage car ownership, made future-proof.
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