Nissan has commissioned this retro electric vehicle to celebrate a production milestone

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2021 Nissan Newbird and its donor car, the 2021 Nissan Leaf.
2021 Nissan Newbird and its donor car, the 2021 Nissan Leaf.
  • Nissan has created a one-off electric car called the Newbird, based on the 1986 Bluebird.
  • The car uses the Nissan Leaf's gizzards and can travel up to 210km on a single charge.
  • There's a growing market for retro EV conversions around the world.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

Did you know that the Nissan Motor Corporation's Sunderland Plant in the United Kingdom was officially opened in September 1986 and has been in operation ever since? Total output from 1986 to today totals more than 10.5 million cars for global consumption.

To celebrate 35 years of successfully building cars at the factory, the carmaker has created an extraordinary all-electric vehicle (EV) called the Newbird based on the Nissan Bluebird from 1986. The Bluebird was the first production model to roll off the Sunderland production line three and a half decades ago.

Which retro vehicle would you like to convert to electric? Audi 500 with e-tron internals? BMW 2002ti with i3S internals? What about a Porsche 944 with Taycan gizzards? Let us know your dream EV build in the comments section, or please send us an email here.

2021 Nissan Newbird
2021 Nissan Newbird

Leaf on the inside

The classic 1986 Nissan Bluebird was thoroughly modified and upgraded to accommodate the 2021 Nissan Leaf's all-electric drivetrain. The Bluebird's original petrol combustion engine and gearbox were removed, and the Leaf's motor, inverter, and 40kWh battery pack were installed, with the battery modules split between the engine bay and boot to ensure optimised weight distribution.


2021 Nissan Newbird
2021 Nissan Newbird

Nissan's engineer's also made updates and modifications to the Bluebird's power steering, braking and heating systems to enable these components to be electrically powered. A bespoke suspension package was also designed and installed to support the additional weight from the battery packs.

The car is recharged through the original fuel flap, which provides access to the charging port. Drivers can recharge the battery at up to 6.6kW while the original instrument panel gauges have been connected to the EV system to enable the fuel gauge to show the battery state of charge.

2021 Nissan Newbird
2021 Nissan Newbird

Although it hasn't been homologated according to WLTP standards, the Newbird's claimed driving range from a single charge is estimated at around 210km with a 0 to 100km/h sprint time pegged at 15 seconds. For the vehicle's exterior, Nissan Design Europe, based in London, created a new graphic motif inspired by design cues of 1980s consumer technology, combined with a 21st century aesthetic.

2021 Nissan Newbird
2021 Nissan Newbird

The conversion was managed by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, a family-run company based in Durham, North East England (just 20km from the Sunderland plant). Kinghorn EV specialises in converting classic cars to full-electric vehicles using second-life Nissan LEAF motors, inverters and batteries. As a nod to the car's electric updates, the original Nissan bonnet badge has also received an LED backlight that illuminates when the vehicle is static.

If you're interested in converting an older vehicle into an electric car, you might want to get in touch with Gauteng-based electric vehicle conversion specialists, EV Dynamics.

2021 Nissan Newbird
2021 Nissan Newbird

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