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Heritage Series Grandeur concept car

Eight retro electric cars that are informed by motoring heritage

Electric vehicles have entered the mainstream, but while some manufacturers are developing futuristic concepts, others are looking to the past for their designs. Here is a roundup of eight electric cars with a retro design.

Following the news that Volkswagen is launching an electric update to its T1 camper van, we look at other car brands, including Jaguar and Hyundai, that have drawn on classic car designs for their electric vehicles.

Volkswagen ID Buzz next to a vintage VW van in a parking lot

Volkswagen ID Buzz

German automotive company Volkswagen recently launched the ID Buzz van as an electrified update to its iconic T1 Transporter camper van that became associated with the hippie movement in the 1960s and '70s.

Like its forebearer, the ID Buzz has a flat front with almost no overhang and a V-shaped face adorned with an oversized VW logo, with an option for two-tone paintwork.

"The T1 was an icon of the 1950s," said Volkswagen head of design Jozef Kabaň. "With the ID Buzz, we're transferring its DNA into the age of electromobility. It's conveying the icon's genes and design elements into the digital age."

Find out more about the ID Buzz ›

Heritage Series Grandeur by Hyundai

Hyundai Heritage Series Grandeur

Designers at Korean automaker Hyundai have built the Heritage Series Grandeur, a modernised, all-electric concept version of its 1980s saloon car.

It kept the first generation Grandeur's original boxy shape while adding features such as pixel-style LED headlights and taillights.

Inside, burgundy velvet seats and a single-spoke steering wheel are reminiscent of the car's original interiors, but the dashboard's buttons and dials were replaced with an ultra-wide touch screen display.

Find out more about the Heritage Series Grandeur ›

Suite No.4 Renault concept car by Mathieu Lehanneur

Renault 4L Suite No.4 by Mathieu Lehanneur

The 1960s Renault 4L was given a makeover by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur to create this one-off car in honour of the original's 60th anniversary.

Called the Suite No.4, Lehanneur's model has the same lines and exterior dimensions as the classic 4L, but the rear panelling is replaced with panoramic windows that cover the sides and roof of the car.

As well as being retrofitted to be 100 per cent electric, it features transparent solar panels on the roof that help to charge the car's battery while in sunlight.

Find out more about the Suite No.4 ›

Micro unveils Microlino electric bubble car and three-wheeled e-scooter

Micro Microlino 2.0

Swiss company Micro launched the Microlino 2.0 electric car, released in 2020, to combine modern aesthetics and mechanics with "retro charm".

It closely resembles the Italian-designed Isetta Microcar from the 1950s, and at only 2.4 metres long is small enough that it only takes up a third of a standard parking space.

Find out more about the Microlino 2.0 ›

The MINI Cooper SE is the brand's first all-electric vehicle

MINI Cooper SE

BMW released an electric version of the MINI Cooper to the market in 2020, keeping most of the famous hatchback's recognisable styling with only a few functional changes.

For instance, the MINI Cooper SE has a closed grille because of its reduced need for ventilation, and wheels and mirror caps have been updated to be more aerodynamic.

In 2018, BMW also built a one-off all-electric version of the classic MINI first produced in 1959, to promote its stated switch to zero-emissions production.

Find out more about the MINI Cooper SE ›

Jaguar electrifies its classic E-type car

Jaguar E-Type Zero

Instead of basing a new electric car on one of its classics, Jaguar unveiled a fully electrified prototype of the E-Type convertible that entirely retains the original's aesthetic.

The E-Type, which was produced from 1961 to 1975, was described by Italian automotive legend Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car in the world".

Its electric remake was engineered by Jaguar Land Rover's specialist Classic department to have a powertrain of a similar weight and size to a petrol engine, meaning that the car's design – including its breaks and suspension – did not have to be changed.

Find out more about the E-Type Zero ›

Infiniti's Prototype 10 is a modern twist on the classic speedster

Infiniti Prototype 10

Japanese luxury car manufacturer Infiniti designed the electric Prototype 10 concept car to be a forward-looking version of early Californian speedster cars.

"This idea of 'looking back to go forward', and combining the inspiration of an earlier aesthetic with future technology, lets us show how excited we are about the era of electrification," said executive design director Karim Habib.

"Prototype 10 draws on some of the most iconic and evocative car designs of all time to illustrate this excitement."

Find out more about the Prototype 10 ›

Ford F-100 Eluminator concept truck

Ford F-100 Eluminator

In November 2021, Ford produced an electric version of its 1978 F-100 pickup truck to promote a new electric crate motor that can be installed as part of the process of electrifying combustion-engine vehicles.

The F-100 Eluminator concept uses two motors that are the same as those used in the GT performance edition of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E released to market in 2019, which itself departed in style from its predecessors.

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