TEST: Eleven – Second better life! – Test drives

Premium Desecration or cultural deed? Electrifying older cars is a strong trend and the small Swedish company Eleven specializes in converting older Porsche 911s. What does it cost? What are the biggest challenges? And what about the soul?

The nice old Porsche from 1990 reminds me of what it’s like to meet a very good friend after like 30 years. Time has left its mark, but you immediately remember everything you did together. The basic personality is still there, although it has been made more interesting by everything that has happened.

Since there is not a 3.6-liter boxer six behind the rear axle, but a Tesla Model S engine in front of it, the meeting is a little unfair. I have hardly gotten stronger, faster or smarter. Possibly wiser.

The only update I’ve had is a titanium hip joint, which was more of a stopgap than an improvement.

The Porsche, on the other hand, has received an engine that can provide far more than double the original output of 250 hp and, as it sits closer to the middle of the car, the weight distribution has also improved, which perhaps I can’t brag about either.

The student designs his own rims, headlights and more, to make his mark. Nice! This is car number two with a larger battery pack, which gives a range of around 20-30 miles. See more at e-leven.se. There will also be a film from the test drive – keep an eye out on our website!

Enough with human-machine comparisons. This is about the meeting between man and machine. It is also about the big trend running around the world with older enthusiast cars being transformed into more modern vehicles, perhaps to meet future environmental requirements or for the sake of climate commitment. But my guess is that it’s primarily about car love.

– Yes, I stand with one foot in classic sports cars, of which I love and own several, and the other in electric cars. I drive a Porsche Taycan everyday and converting classic Porsche 911s just feels right. They get a new exciting life.

So says Johan Sjöstedt, who is the founder of the small company ELeven, which is located just north of Stockholm.

It all started during the pandemic when he and his friend Magnus Bergqvist put together a Porsche 356, which he bought in boxes. When it was finished and they had a lot of fun and learned a lot about cars, of course the question came up what the next project would be, they thought about where the world was going and the answer was obvious: electrified older Porsche 911s.

– My first car was a Bubbla which was rebuilt with a Porsche engine and the 911 is the most iconic and classic sports car in existence. We bought three 911 bodies and thought that would be the next project. From having been two, Anton Arnqvist, who loves electricity and has rebuilt electric cars, joined. Things have been rolling along that road. We are a collective of friends and consultants who help each other. What we need is a good mechanic who would love to work on this.

In the small workshop are the first two projects and a naked 911 body. The first car they built was a 964 from 1990, which they learned a lot from and mostly just converted. The other is a G-model that has been torn down to the ground and rebuilt for a much more rugged F-series unit and with more advanced electric car technology.

It is not quite finished and not inspected, but it is the 964 and we will test drive it. From the outside, the lack of an exhaust pipe is the only thing that reveals that something has happened to the car – there is a gaping hole on the far right of the bumper, which needs to be filled again. Other than that, it is a nicely relaxed 911 that does not try to hide that it has lived a life.

The sound in the door is wonderfully solid, cars are not built the same way today. Bang, it’s closed and the positions of the door stops are also distinctive with their characteristic snapping.

They work closely with Öhlins, Brembo and Michelin, to have the best components in their cars, and are looking for more good partners who want to join the journey.

The cabin is tight but spacious and I almost fall into a trance over the old lovely interior. Large stable steering wheel, the period-typical slightly fuzzy floor mat, buttons with good response, a classic Blaupunkt stereo…

The gossip that everything is really right – if you like sporty electric cars – is that the left gauge for fuel and oil temperature has been replaced and shows battery charge and range. The gear lever has been given room for a rotary control and in front of it is a red emergency switch. The handbrake lever sits where it should.

The left foot notes that the standing clutch pedal has disappeared. But otherwise, everything is as it was when the car was new, except that the ravages of time left its mark.

As usual, the car is brought to life with the ignition key to the left of the steering wheel. Ignition on. Then you can turn the steering wheel control to Drive. Throttle response is a little sluggish but we roll away and I realize that the 964 was the first 911 model to get power steering. In this one, the original servo has been replaced with a Carrera Cup car servo. It feels comfortable, but I actually miss that servoless feeling.

The motor comes from Tesla, as does the converter. The electric motor is capable of a maximum of 646 hp, but is set to 435, mainly for inspection reasons but probably for other reasons as well, such as it might be enough as it is. The weight of the car should reportedly be the same as the original and the 911 Turbo of the time produced 320 hp.

Neatly integrated instrumentation for charge status and range. Charging has not yet been prioritized, it is only 6.6 kW in the first car. But there is more to come.

ELeven buys used Tesla motors, opens and goes through. They are then to be painted in the car’s color and water-polished – although this has not been done in this first development example. You change the circuit board to disconnect it from Tesla’s world, so that you can control everything with your own developed control system.

Only the development time for that project took its time. All components must communicate with each other, such as displays, battery monitoring systems, chargers, pumps, fans and inverters.

In the more technically advanced G model, a low-voltage system controls wireless buttons and communicates with temperature sensors, and most things can be controlled via an app on the phone – such as locks, lights, charging, driving modes, regeneration rate and how the car should sound inside and outside. If you want a classic boxer rattle, it’s fine, with bass speakers under the driver’s seat for a little physical mess!

In the future, it will offer updates, like all “real” car manufacturers.

There are of course kits with motors and control systems to buy from various companies in the industry and Johan & Co have looked at these to learn. But from the USA there is a five-year waiting period for engines with control systems and it is also difficult to get parts from England.

The steering wheel in the older 70s has received a lot of modern technology and the interior has been rebuilt from the ground up, the feeling of quality is really high. What reveals that it is an electric car is above all the drive mode dial and the red power switch in the middle, but also that the clutch pedal is missing. The cars are classified as rebuilt vehicles.

– That which takes time is to develop engine mounts and powertrains and so on. The electronics are about the same depending on how powerful the engine is.

We roll through a small industrial area and on towards a nice winding road. The batteries are located both front and back and have a total of 27 kWh. In car number two, the power is double and Northvolt is in talks to buy custom batteries, which would give even more performance!

The range is a modest 10–12 miles. The weight distribution is more neutral than that of the original car, which is probably good, but at the same time I miss a bit of that “rocking” feeling in the front end. That slightly anxious search.

However, I actually don’t miss the messing with the gearbox and clutch at all, which maybe says more about me than about gearboxes in old 911s? Sure, there’s the allure of shifting yourself, but from what I remember there are smoother transmissions to play with in the world of cars. Older cars easily become a bit “tractor-like” and very far from the seamless flow found in a fast electric car: power in the exact amount exactly when you want it. Beautiful modern times.

Somewhere here the culture clash is happening which is exciting. I’m sitting in an old classic car, holding a nice worn steering wheel and enjoying the atmosphere, but if I close my eyes, my senses would tell me that the car is modern.

The price for a conversion starts at around SEK 1.5 million. Then the price tag can go as far as you want…

Easy to drive, fast, quiet – pretty much everything that an older 911 is not. In many ways, it is exactly what so-called resto mod cars are: Modern under a classic shell. The best of both worlds.

But while the world’s most famous and admired 911 converter Singer continues with gasoline-powered boxer sixes, the ELeven takes it a step further with the motorization.

Even though the drivetrain is modern, there are no modern assistance systems here, it’s going crazy, you have to figure it all out yourself, but since I drive a private car, I take it easy. Full throttle gives at least two sensations. Firstly, there is a muffled sound from the engine that really intrudes even from low speed. You can hear it clearly from outside. The second is that the rear trailer sits on its butt and the car goes up for a few seconds.

For really sporty manoeuvres, this specimen is not quite finished, the chassis is original. The power delivery is also very good but there is probably little to do with the driving modes – which should be three and which are modified according to the buyer’s taste. Same thing with the regeneration.

As a Sunday touring car, the nice green 964 is perfect. Charisma, comfort, nice modern fluidity in driving and more than enough power.

Car number two, a rugged 70’s car with performance it could never have dreamed of when new! One day you might be able to buy engines and batteries directly from Porsche, that’s the dream anyway.

But I would like a sport mode for even stronger acceleration, think about adding some licorice with this one, and of course a one-pedal mode with strong regeneration. It’s in car number two – the racy older 911 where you can set power, throttle response and so on. It also has modern suspensions, Öhlins dampers and Brembo brakes. Jeez, what a car!

It seems to me that anyone who thinks the moody character has been tamed is very wrong. With all the power – up to 650 horsepower – it will be quite a challenge to drive an ELeven to the limit.

But of course that’s how it should be. The basis of a 911 is the very special driving feeling, efficiency and challenge. All that remains – with a strong electric motor. The appetite is big.

Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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