Nissan converts 1980s Bluebird to electric

Source: Nissan

To celebrate 35 years of production at the Sunderland factory, Nissan has commissioned a special conversion of the Nissan Bluebird – the first car to roll of the plant’s production line back in 1986.

Called ‘Newbird’, the one-off project car is powered using the 40kWh battery pack and electric motor of a Nissan LEAF.

Extensive modifications were made to the Bluebird to integrate the electric drivetrain, including updates to the power steering, braking, and heating systems. The battery modules were split between the engine bay and the boot for optimised weight distribution, while the suspension was upgraded to support the added weight of the batteries.

Nissan says the LEAF’s electric powertrain gives the 80s liftback a maximum range of roughly 210km and a 0-100km/h sprint time of around 15 seconds.

To mirror the mechanical changes, Nissan also added a few cosmetic touches. Most notably, the vehicle’s paint scheme which was inspired by the design cues popularized by 1980s consumer technology. The marque also added some backlighting to the car’s front badge – a feature which has grown increasingly popular in recent years.

The project was managed by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, a family-run company based in Durham that specialises in the conversions of classic cars to full electric.

“Working on this Bluebird conversion was a great project to be part of… The Bluebird was first off the line, so it represents the start of that optimism and global industrial footprint that’s continued to this day,” said George Kinghorn.

“EVs are not just the future, they’re the now! Converting older vehicles to electric gives you everyday use of these iconic vintage models, but they’re just as enjoyable to drive, they’re more reliable and importantly don’t product harmful emissions when driving.”

Since opening its doors in 1986, Nissan’s Sunderland factory has produced more than 10.5 million cars. The number of staff employed has also grown from 430 to 6,000 within the same period – with 19 members still working in the factory today who originally screwed the Bluebird together back in the 1980s.

The Newbird is the latest concept promoting Nissan’s Ambition 2030 initiative, under which the brand will launch 15 new electric vehicles before the end of the decade.


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