This Vintage Nissan Bluebird Is Reborn As An All-Electric Restomod

Nissan UK's Sunderland manufacturing facility celebrates 35 years of manufacturing heritage this year. Commemorating this momentous occasion is a one-off T12 Nissan Bluebird station wagon running an all-electric powertrain from the Nissan Leaf. Affectionately called the 'Newbird' by Nissan UK, this vintage restomod brings back memories of simpler times.

"The Newbird represents all that is great about our plant, and our fantastic team is now leading the way as we drive towards an exciting electrified, carbon-neutral future," said Alan Johnson, Vice President of Manufacturing at the Sunderland Plant.

The Nissan Bluebird was the first car to roll off the Sunderland assembly plant in 1986. According to Nissan's brochure, the Bluebird is "the first of a new generation of cars engineered in Europe to be built in Britain at the world's most advanced production facility." It came with either a 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter, or 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine in three body styles: sedan, hatchback, and estate or wagon.

Of course, the process of converting a gasoline car to an electric vehicle is not for the faint of heart. Nissan sought help from Durham-based EV conversion specialist Kinghorn Electric Vehicles to create the Newbird using second-life motors, batteries, and inverters. Kinghorn got rid of the oily bits (combustion engine, gearbox, etc.) to make room for a Leaf electric motor and inverter. In addition, the car has a 40 kWh battery pack split between the engine bay and the trunk to optimize weight distribution.

Newbird also has updated power steering, braking, and heating systems to run on electric power. It also got a new suspension to cope with the added weight of the battery packs. "Given our location so close to the Sunderland plant (15 miles), working on this Bluebird conversion was a great project to be part of," added George Kinghorn of Kinghorn Electric Vehicles.

Like the 2022 Nissan Leaf S equipped with a 40 kWh battery pack, the Newbird achieves 130 miles of driving range in a single full charge. It goes from zero to 60 mph in under 15-seconds. It's not the fastest EV restomod by any means, but Newbird is not about blistering acceleration. "Converting older vehicles to electric gives you everyday use of these iconic vintage models," added Kinghorn.

Newbird has a 6.6 kW charging port conveniently located in the stock fuel door when the batteries go flat. In addition, the body has custom graphics inspired by the 1980s and the 21st century, said Nissan Design Europe. Other neat touches include an LED backlight on the original Nissan hood badge that lights up when the vehicle is not moving.

Nissan's Ambition 2030 electrification plan includes releasing 15 fully-electric models and e-POWER hybrids by 2030, starting with the Ariya crossover EV arriving next fall. The automaker is spending $17-billion in investments over the next five years to make this happen. We won't be seeing the Newbird in Nissan's future EV lineup, but the automaker did unveil three new EV concepts last November to give us an idea of what's in the pipeline.