The inception of e-Drive Retro began with a tale of two grandfathers and the burning desire to be an “Inventor.”
It all started when I was about 10. I remember spending time with my ‘gear-head’ grandfather back in Minnesota, watching he and my uncle painstakingly restore and perfect unique classic cars from barnyard finds to award-winning, concourse condition. My job was to sort the endless bins of nuts, bolts and washers and above all, not to scratch any paint with the zippers on my jacket.
They patiently taught me how ‘real cars’ were built. And, what all those fascinating mechanics were for and how to care for a classic like a fine Swiss watch – with respect for the talent of the creative (sometimes improvised) as well as the early engineering exhibited in these stylish, iconic cars combined with the passion for the artistry of their mechanical designs.
From carburetors to hand-hammered coachwork, everything had a purpose and everything took meticulous attention to detail to set it right against the ravages of time. I’ll never forget seeing classic marvels such as the 1932 Lincoln, complete with custom K.B. Willoughby dual-cowl limousine coachwork and its shining v-12 engine that seemed the size of a locomotive to me at the time.
Then there was my ‘electronics-centric’ grandfather, an entrepreneurial Canadian that brought the rapidly expanding world of electronic components to establish the first electronics rep firm in the Mid-Western, USA. He was always finding new, far-away sources for everything from transformers and resistors to transistor radios and tape recorders.
In fact, he brought back the first ‘solar cell’ I’d ever seen from Japan in the 1970’s (tiny, inefficient, but an absolute marvel to me nonetheless). I was hooked and determined to become “an inventor” from a very early age. Something about combining amazing mechanical designs with emerging technology has always been a fascination for me.
Those formative years eventually led me to my own engineering career (which now spans 38+ years) and a similar drive for the quest to know how everything works, as well as the desire to always deliver passion and creativity to the job of envisioning, engineering, fabricating and perfecting something new, functional and beautiful.
In the background of my global engineering challenges, accomplishments and learning, I’ve always had the car-bug and felt a particular affinity to the timeless designs of those gorgeous sports cars of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Like the rest of the engineering community, I’ve been fascinated to see the resurgence of interest in electric drivetrains as the next logical evolution in automotive locomotion and the early signs of this trend over 10 years ago caught my imagination and has held it to this day.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving a beautifully engineered and aesthetically pleasing car down a winding sunny road! Owning and enjoying these lovely cars and that feeling of freedom, the self-expression of style and the individuality they inspire is a wonderful privilege for anyone.
Unfortunately, much of the sheer joy of the experience is often curbed by the practical realities of the perennially problematic petrol drivetrains inherent in the cars of this era. How many of us have had an outing spoiled by engines that won’t start, smoking exhaust, the endless overheating and flat-out failures; mechanical, electrical, plumbing, you name it!
My inspiration to found e-Drive Retro in 2015 stems from all these influences.
After a decade of observing the rapid advancement of EV technology, I became convinced that it was now feasible to substitute a contemporary EV-drivetrain in place of an original petrol counterpart to improve, rather than degrade, the driving experience.
Further, I was struck by the recognition that these iconic cars of the retro-style era are falling further behind in practicality for actual driving. Think about the time and cost necessary to properly rebuild, and then continuously maintain, any vintage piston engine these days (most are also incompatible with unleaded and ethanol-treated fuels, etc.). Beyond that, due to their egregious emissions, more cities are banning older vehicles from public streets entirely, as a consequence of our urgent need to recover the ecosystem we depend on to live.
As a result, I came to the conclusion that the time was finally right to bring these worlds together in new and innovative ways, while at the same time fulfill my destiny to bring the tale of my two grandfathers to fruition.
By finding kindred spirits from the automotive and electronics engineering worlds, we have been able to realize this vision. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the privilege of working with our amazing team. Together, we are creating a spectacular new category of authentic classics that are transformed into iconic, zero-emissions EV’s which are truly timeless!
Michael M. Richardson
Founder & CEO