Vehicles | August 11, 2020 9:45 am

How Would Johnny Cash Feel About His Rolls-Royce Getting Tesla Power?

The Man in Black's 1970 Silver Shadow is now electric

Johnny Cash 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow at Barrett-Jackson auction
Johnny Cash's 1970 Rolls-Royce before it was auctioned off in 2014.
Barrett-Jackson

In 2014, one lucky buyer nabbed Johnny Cash’s 1970 Rolls-Royce LWB Silver Shadow for $88,000 from Barrett-Jackson, which, as the auction house noted at the time, was gifted to the Man in Black from ABC. The low hammer price comes down to the fact that this Rolls is not particularly collectible, provenance aside, and because it reportedly needed a lot of work to keep it running.

So what did the new owner do? According to Digital Trends, they called up Shift Electric Vehicles, a gas-to-electric conversion shop out of Oregon, and swapped out the Rolls powertrain for one from a Tesla Model S.

“They originally approached Tesla [to do the conversion],” Kirk Swaney, founder of Shift, told Digital Trends. But when Elon Musk’s company wouldn’t do it, Shift took on the challenging but ultimately rewarding project.

The niche industry of converting gas cars to EVs has been picking up steam in recent years, with companies creating new technologies like electric crate motors to make the process easier, but retrofitting a 50-year-old Rolls with Tesla tech provides some extra hurdles. This specific job required trimming down the Tesla’s 75 kWh battery pack, reprogramming the electric power steering system to adhere to the new vehicle’s dimensions, and figuring out how to incorporate elements the owner couldn’t do without, like the original steering wheel and shifter.

“The customer wanted to retain the original look and feel of the car, and so it’s what we would call a ‘sleeper restomod,’” Otmar Ebenhoech, who worked on the car, explained.

Do you think they achieved that? Check it out in action in the video below.

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