It's Electrifying!

The striking roofline. The seductive curves. The plush interior. The roar of the engine...wait. There’s no roar of the engine. Where’s the roar? This is a 1953 Jaguar XK120 with the 160-horsepower, dual-cam motor — the one that made it the fastest production automobile of its time — right? Yes. But also, no. This moment of head-cocked, wide-eyed idolatry is brought to you by Lunaz Design. The British luxury automobile company has taken the aforementioned XK120, as well as a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, a 1956 Rolls-Royce Cloud and the most recent addition, a Bentley S2 Flying Spur, into production in the company’s headquarters in Silverstone, England, the home of British racing. There, it is busily and meticulously transforming these classic vehicles, using all-electric powertrains. The goal: preserve all the grandeur and the emotion of these oldies, with a technologically driven, future-forward spin. It all starts with a thorough inspection and testing process and a complete strip-down of each car to its metal shell. Three-D scanning helps determine the specs for the custom powertrain, using the company’s proprietary technology, and then each car receives its bespoke interior finishes, along with modern necessities including navigation, Wi-Fi, and new heating and air conditioning.

James Warren

Tesla pioneered the luxury electric vehicle on its way to becoming the most valuable automaker in U.S. history, and second in the world to Toyota, in a mere 10 years. (For giggles, look back a decade to Newsweek’s story about why Tesla will never make money — including asking the now-nonprescient question, “Does anyone know if consumers will actually buy electric cars for six-figures?”). With need well established, many other new and existing brands have famously introduced their own luxury electric vehicles: Audi’s e-tron, Jaguar’s I-Pace, the BMW i8, the Porsche Taycan, and the Karma Revero, with the BMW i4, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and Rivian R1T and R1S coming late 2020 to early 2021. But one thing has been missing: the kind of vintage chassis that continues to turn heads decades after introduction, only fully restored, refined and updated with an all-new, future-forward approach to driving. Enter Lunaz, with a plan to transform and modernize some of the most celebrated classics in history while preserving their celebrated lines. Homes & Estates spoke to James Warren, director of communications at Lunaz, to find out more about the company, its plans, its goals and its cars.

Homes & EstatesHow did Lunaz come about?

James WarrenIt’s a rather nice story. Lunaz’s founder, David Lorenz, was in the luxury hospitality business. His wife picked him up for what was their first date in a Mercedes Benz 230XL. You could say he fell in love twice that day. He started to collect classic cars and spent far too much time on the side of the road. Classic cars are quite unreliable and difficult to use, as beautiful as they are. When David had his daughter years ago, he became inspired by the idea that, if he didn’t find an answer to the usability, reliability and sustainability issues, his daughter would never get to drive these cars. That’s really where the seed for Lunaz was sewn. The name is a tribute to his daughter Luna.

Homes & EstatesHow did Lunaz start to go from that initial germ of an idea to an actual company?

James WarrenDavid met former Renault F1 technical director Jon Hilton, the managing director of Lunaz and technology lead. He was the powertrain designer for Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso. Jon was a classic car fanatic, and he felt strongly when he met David that they needed vital engineering to breathe new life into these celebrated cars that are under threat. In the UK, there is a ban on the sale of new internal combustion cars by 2035.

Homes & EstatesHow much of Lunaz is about engineering, how much is about technology and how much is about design?

James WarrenLunaz, at its core, is a luxury brand. You have someone with an engineering mind like Jon Hilton, and he’s gathered a team of expert craftspeople from brands like Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Volkswagen, McLaren and Cosworth. Lunaz is not in the business of taking old Tesla batteries and putting them in classic cars. We have a completely proprietary system, which means we can apply this solution to a wide range of cars. It’s repeatability of process; however, customers can tailor the car in terms of trim and technology to their exact requirements. In that sense, it’s tech-heavy, but with amazing craftsmanship.

It’s taking the original essence of the car, the beautiful silhouette, and respectfully applying design expertise to gently make it more relevant for the modern world. Details may include a pocket so your phone doesn’t roll around or an infotainment system, all nicely integrated into the original aesthetic of the car. It’s a combination of technology, artisanship and craftsmanship, with an understanding of the needs of this discerning clientele.

Homes & EstatesWho is the Lunaz customer? Is it a Tesla driver or a classic car driver?

James WarrenWe have generated more interest from people with classic car collections than we thought we might. We have found that they know better than anyone else about the challenges of classic cars. They understand how they’re getting the beauty and patina and look and feel of classic cars, with the dynamism and reliability of a modern automobile. We are attracting interest from people who have always admired classic cars but have never seen them fitting into their lives. We are seeing that a new generation will buy classics when we address the things they want. Increasingly, we are talking to younger and newer buyers who get the idea of a classic car with the substance and usability of an electric car. Some may be Tesla buyers who are already used to the idea of electric, but it’s a much wider group that we have found. We are bringing new people to classic car ownership and creating more opportunities for classic car collectors.

Homes & EstatesWhere are you with completed cars and those in the process of being transformed?

James WarrenThe first Jaguar XK120 has completed testing, and we’re keeping it for demonstrations with customers. Additional completed versions will have a US$450,000 starting price. The Phantom and Cloud are being completed now.

Homes & EstatesWhat has demand been like?

James WarrenGlobal demand is high. We have interest and deposits from every corner of the world, and custom cars are being built ahead of schedule. Twenty-twenty allocation is filling up nicely, with a little capacity left.

The XK120 catches the eye, and it’s an amazing thing to see that car under electric power. We have had strong interest in the two Rolls-Royce cars from the luxury hospitality world. The Phantom is an eight-seater. Can you imagine flying on a private jet and being taken to your hotel in that car? We can satisfy about 100 cars per year around the world, and our goal is sustainable growth each year. We have customers who are looking for build slots now. In the future, there could be limited production runs to meet demand.

Homes & EstatesHow are the cars sourced?

James WarrenGiven our founder’s personal experience selecting classic cars, Lunaz is very well placed to find these classics in the global market, utilizing his networks. From auctions to individual collectors and a number of other avenues, sourcing isn’t an issue.

Homes & EstatesOn average, how long is it from order to delivery?

James WarrenCars are set to be delivered within the year. The exact timeline depends on bespoke choices, but the time frame is typical for any restoration or high-end custom car, from Rolls-Royce to Ferrari. As we scale further, and if we do limited production runs, the time frame may compress a little more.

By Jaymi Naciri This article originally appeared in Homes & Estates magazine. 


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