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‘No power steering to drain the battery’: Angus man converts classic Mini into electric car

A septuagenarian car enthusiast near Montrose has converted his classic Mini into an electric car.

Terry Moore bought the 1988 Mini around two years ago. He took out the engine and installed an electric motor and batteries, turning it into a fully electric, zero emissions vehicle.

Car-lover Terry Moore of Craigo, Angus, completely transformed a classic Mini into an electric vehicle.
Car-lover Terry Moore of Craigo, Angus, completely transformed a classic Mini into an electric vehicle.

Originally from Rhodesia, Terry and his wife Gae moved to Scotland in the late 1970s when the country became Zimbabwe.

Terry, 76, and Gae, 69, settled just outside the village of Craigo near Montrose. Their house lies in a beautiful spot on a bend of the River North Esk.

Now retired, Terry spent his career in the oil industry. “That’s how I got the money to spend playing with cars,” he smiles.

Tinkering with vehicles has always been his first love. He says: “I’ve been messing around with cars for as long as I can remember. I love taking beat up old cars, modifying them and making them interesting or extraordinary.”

Finding his Mini

When he bought his E registered Mini for £1,800 it was a lump of rusted metal that didn’t look like it would ever move again.

After a few months in Terry’s workshop and a respray from a local car paint specialist it is now gleaming with as much vitality as when it was new.

Terry Moore with his e-mini
Terry Moore has a passion for modifying classic cars in unique ways.

Terry did virtually all of the work himself. “When it comes to the mechanical side that’s easy,” he continues. “I can fix up anything. It’s the electric conversion that was the tricky part. I didn’t have any experience of that.”

Terry spent £20,000 on an electric car conversion kit. “I’ve got an electric motor and 10 battery packs – seven under the bonnet and three in the boot.

“I had no idea what I was doing and was really out of my comfort zone with that part of the work.” Terry points as a pile of batteries sitting just outside his workshop. “That’s £6,000 worth of parts I accidentally burned up working out what I was doing.”

His persistence and hard work paid off, however. Terry’s Mini is fully electric, fully road legal and has an MoT.

Hitting the road

Terry, myself and videographer Blair cram ourselves into the Mini and he takes us out for a spin. The car creeps along silently. Then Terry hits the throttle and a loud whoosh accompanies us as we hurtle forward.

“The differential I used is for racing cars and was built for performance rather than smoothness so it’s very noisy,” he says. “I’m going to switch it for another one and it should be better. Minis aren’t meant to be quiet cars though!”

Terry Moore's homemade e-Mini.
Terry Moore’s homemade e-Mini.

Terry hasn’t yet tested the range of his homemade electric Mini but reckons it should be good for at least 120 miles.

“It’s helped by the fact the car is so basic. There’s no power steering or electric windows so there’s less to drain the battery. I was originally hoping for 200 miles but I’m happy with 120 miles. By the time you’ve done 120 miles in a Mini you’re happy to stop anyway.”

Other projects

The electric Mini is not the only project Terry has been working on recently.

He also converted a 1980s Austin Metro into an electric car using parts from a Nissan Leaf. And he has a 1973 Mini van which he has shoehorned a Harley Davidson engine into, complete with a huge pair of chrome exhausts poking out of the side. With the engine jutting proud of the bonnet and a black and orange paintjob, it’s a real head turner.

When he fires the ignition the big Harley engine roars into life and the garage is flooded with the sweet smell of engine oil.

Terry Moore with his electric Mini.
Terry Moore with his electric Mini.

Terry and Gae are regulars at car shows up and down the country. He’s even been on Top Gear. “I had an Isetta bubble car from the 1960s which I’d fitted a motorcycle engine into,” he explains. “We were at a show and the guys from Top Gear made a beeline for my car.

“I took Richard Hammond out in it. He said I didn’t have to drive fast because his cameramen could make it look like the car was going quickly. I told him ‘where’s the fun in that?’ and got us up to 100mph in it. He was terrified.”

Remarkably, Terry used to go racing in his bubble car. “I used it for drag racing. One time in Stratford-upon-Avon I flipped it and rolled into a fence. That’s when I retired from drag racing. I’m too old and my reflexes aren’t there anymore.”

What’s it like living with such a man? “Quiet,” Gae laughs. “He’s always in his workshop. Sometimes I have to go in at night and tell him to put his tools down because it’s bedtime.”

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