How Everrati is Engineering All-electric Ford GT40 MKIIs
The 2019 startup, with electrified models of classics such as the Porsche 911 and the Land Rover Series IIA already under its belt, has turned its eye toward the iconic Le Mans winner.
I know absolutely, positively, undeniably nothing about cars. I couldn’t change my oil if you asked me to; hell, I couldn’t even find its case. I grew up in one of two states in the United States where other people fill your gas for you; when I moved to Idaho, at the age of 20, I was legitimately worried about getting the stuff into my tank.
Cars for me are like swimming. I can get from one end of the pool to the other, but if you ask me to tread, I’ll sink; just so, I can turn a key and get from point A to point B, but if my car broke down in the middle of the desert, whether by thirst or the ravages of insanity, I would die.
Yet somehow, even I know that the Ford GT40 MKII is the stuff of legend. Sleek and seriously fast, the model is famous for its 1966 triumph over Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to this day the pinnacle of endurance racing.
Ford GT40 MKIIs finished 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Image used courtesy of Ford
Everrati knows it too, but the young startup also knows cars. With engineers formerly employed by the likes of McLaren, Lotus, Jaguar, and Land Rover, it really, really knows cars. It also knows that the future is electric and, perhaps most importantly, that the market favors sex appeal.
So, the company is doing the only natural thing it can—turning the GT40 MKII, one of the sexiest cars on the planet, into a lean, mean, battery-powered machine worthy of Rati, the Hindu goddess of carnal desire.
Everrati’s electric GT40 MKII. Image used courtesy of Everrati
But how, exactly? I recently sat down with Everrati’s senior vehicle systems engineer responsible for low-voltage and control systems, Jack Bolt—yes, that’s his real name—to find out.
Changing the Model
With its previous classics, Everrati’s basic model has been thus: Start with either a customer’s own classic vehicle—the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL "Pagoda"—or ask them to front the cost for a donor car—the narrow-bodied Porsche 911 Pure—restore it, strip it of its oily guts, and implement a fully redesigned powertrain across thousands of hours of development and testing.
Everrati’s 280 SL "Pagoda" (top) and 911 Pure. Images [modified] used courtesy of Everrati
But with the GT40 MKII, the calculus had to change.
There are only eight original MKIIs in existence, and to buy just one would likely require a net worth in excess of $10 million, along with a willingness to part with all of it. Perhaps more to the point, to then rip its original V8-driven powertrain from its chassis would amount to nothing less than an act of sacrilege, Bolt told me.
Redesign Starts with a Rolling Chassis
Last July, Everrati announced its entry into a strategic partnership with Superperformance. Based in the U.S., the company is a top manufacturer of “rolling chassis” authentic to race classics.
Superperformance’s model of the GT40 MKII, for instance, so mirrors the original that it’s eligible for entry both into the official GT40 registry and in classic races, Bolt said.
The catch, though, is that the company does not provide the engine, nor the transmission or transaxle. Its models feature only those elements of the car necessary for it to move, hence the “rolling” designation.
Of course, that’s perfect for Everrati.
Preserving the Soul
Everrati wants you to know that it is not a converter. The company’s marketing practically oozes disdain for the term, a catch-all for companies that take aged internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and outfit them with fresh electric architectures.
That process, depending on one’s approach, can be thoroughly destructive to the original identity of the car. Chassis can be chopped up, components can be shuffled around and mounted as a matter of convenience, weight and balance can be disregarded.
But there’s no soul there, and the soul is what matters, Bolt said.
“Fundamentally, you get behind the wheel, we want you to know you’re in a GT40. It handles like one. Feels like one.”
“Fundamentally, you get behind the wheel, we want you to know you’re in a GT40.” Image used courtesy of Everrati
So in every piece of its design, in the selection of every über-expensive part and the implementation of every complex system, Everrati builds its powertrains to be authentic to their gas-guzzling forebears. Parts must fit snugly within the classic chassis, and their bulk and layout must match or improve that of the original.
In fact, Everrati is so zealous in its pursuit here that it actively touts its work as entirely reversible; if customers were to so choose, the company wants them to be able to rip out the fruits of its labor and stick a petrol-driven engine right back in, Bolt said.
The first step, then, is to 3D scan the chassis, which provides Bolt and his team the one-to-one CAD environment they need to craft a true-to-form electric powertrain. Superperformance is key here, as knowing that the virtual will translate to the physical is crucial to expediting that process, making the company’s straight chassis, free of the malformations that almost inevitably define cars built half a century ago, invaluable.
Everrati designs its powertrains in a one-to-one CAD environment. Image used courtesy of Everrati
“Having to refurbish an original GT40, I don’t think anything would be straight, nothing would be clean, it would be greasy, oily, dirty, all in all just not a nice time for anyone,” Bolt said. “But with a chassis like Superperformance, the way it’s built and the quality it’s built to, we know that everything does fit and will fit, which makes our lives as engineers just that much easier.”
Once Everrati has scanned the chassis, Bolt said, the company then weighs it at all four corners, providing both the full weight of the car and its distribution, each of which is compared to that of an ICE GT40 MKII. Matching, or even improving those metrics, is critical for dynamics such as handling, efficiency, and overall performance.
What follows is more complex.
Targets and Questions
For every design, Everrati is driven by a series of targets, Bolt told me.
Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds. A max speed of 125 mph. A 2% improvement in weight distribution—from 38:62 front-to-rear to 40:60—for stabler, more dynamic handling, especially through corners. DC fast charging at up to 150 kW, good for a 20-to-80% charge in half-an-hour or less. A battery pack beefy enough to provide sufficient power and range, yet versatile enough to preserve chassis integrity.
But which cells and modules do you select? Where do you even put the battery, and how do you cool it? How do you package the motors? Control them?
For the GT40 MKII, the answer to some of those questions, Bolt said, was straightforward.
The battery, split into three modules, could slot into the fuel tanks at left and right, with the central hub simply supplanting the engine in the rear. To cool it, Everrati’s engineers would need liquid rather than air, because their 150 kW DC fast charging target necessitated such. Radial flux permanent magnet electric motors from Integral Powertrain could, for their small size, provide “mind-boggling” performance to the MKII’s rear axle.
Everrati slotted two of its battery modules into the chassis’ fuel tanks. Image used courtesy of Everrati
The details, though, those were tricky. How does one engineer such a minute shift in weight distribution? How do you control current to the motors? How do you implement a liquid cooling system across not one but three separate circuits, in a car whose purpose is to push limits?
To answer those questions, the team turned to simulations and its own propulsion platform.
Building on What Came Before
Simulations. Thermal, mechanical, electrical, Everrati relies on a plethora of each to pinpoint precisely what it needs to realize its vision, Bolt said.
In cooling the MKII, those simulations told the team that it needed liquid, and not air; that Everrati needed to build a 60 kW battery with a 700 V internal achitecture, as opposed to an 800 V or even the 900 V sported by the Lucid Air; and that they needed three separate cooling circuits, one each for the motors, the charger, and that battery, because each demanded different bands of temperature within which to stay happy.
To manage such a setup, the company’s control system continually monitors temperature across all three circuits. Everrati can tell at any time what the temperature is at any point in the vehicle, Bolt said, and the system can even throttle current during laps on a warm summer’s day, effectively derating the battery to avoid fault states. All without the driver noticing.
Everrati’s control system can throttle current to prevent battery fault states. Image used courtesy of Everrati
Those features were made easier to implement, at least in part, thanks to Everrati's pre-existing propulsion platform. In crafting its vehicles, the company has built a general control system that it can quickly port to its next projects, Bolt said, saving he and his fellow engineers from having to completely redesign and fully validate new systems.
“The control system doesn’t mind or care what modules or cells you’ve got, and it doesn’t really care what motor you’ve got. Fundamentally, the platform knows that it’s getting energy from somewhere and it’s putting out torque somewhere else; everything in between is the same.”
What’s more, the company can build on that platform from vehicle to vehicle, making the validation process even swifter, Bolt added.
Everrati’s Land Rover Series IIA, for instance, relies heavily on fuses and relays, on analog technology, Bolt said. But the GT40 MKII uses a much more advanced, CAN (controller area network)-based power distribution model, meaning it relies instead on solid state relays and fuses that can be controlled digitally.
Everrati's Land Rover Series IIA relies more heavily on analog fuses and relays. Image used courtesy of Everrati
“We can really quickly, really easily change logic, we can change fuse raters, we can change all sorts of [things] in order to monitor and diagnose faults during test and validation, all from a laptop,” Bolt said. “I can stand there with my USB plugged into my laptop, making the windscreen wipers go, the headlights go, turning the car on and off, all sorts of things, which seems trivial, but for testing and development it’s invaluable to have that capability.”
Still, that advancement can, ironically, make it more difficult for Bolt and his team to stick to Everrati’s vision, to preserve the soul, Bolt said. But this, of course, is his bread and butter.
For Bolt, who grew up in his dad’s South London garage with dirty, diesel-filled weekends spent fixing up old London taxicabs for the family business, work with Everrati is often bittersweet.
The work that really excites him, and that presents some of the trickiest challenge, he said, is behind the scenes; it's the stuff that no one really notices.
It’s the subtle co-opting of a tachometer to read power level rather than revolutions per minute. It’s the classic fuel gauge that now tracks battery charge, the oil pressure indicator that now conveys inverter temperature, the toggle switch that now triggers the active sound system.
It’s tricky, Bolt said, to subtly display new metrics with classic gauges. Image used courtesy of Everrati
It’s the turning of a key and the pressing of the engine start button, cornerstones of any iconic MKII that look and feel exactly as they would have in the ‘60s, just without the deafening roar.
It’s finding that equilibrium between the modern and the classic, between the electric and the petrol, the digital and the analog in even the smallest details. It’s about implementing state-of-the-art architecture, but preserving a classic look, a classic feel, Bolt reiterated.
And once it’s on the road, damn does it feel good, he added.
An Indescribable Ride
When I asked Bolt to give me a feel for how the Everrati GT40 MKII drives, he was nearly at a loss for words.
“It’s almost indescribable. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much gettin’ into a car for the first time. You’re so low to the ground, for one, which in any car makes you feel like you’re going fast, but when you are going that fast, and the power is just there, you touch the throttle and it just hits you in the back and you pull off, it’s honestly incredible.”
Bolt, on driving Everrati’s GT40 MKII: “It’s almost indescribable.” Image used courtesy of Everrati
Customers, though, will have to wait a tad longer to experience it in their own MKIIs.
Everrati plans to complete its validation plan in September. From there, the company will work to build bespoke orders—buyers can have their MKII hot pink, if they want, Bolt said—that will be fully tested and analyzed again before final sign-off.
Luckily, those waiting will find a car that, despite the raw power of its 400 newton-meter motors, is surprisingly easy to drive, Bolt said. Torque delivery is predictable. Steering feels direct, and constant. And the car sits flat and grips, Bolt noted.
“You can really put your foot down through corners, which ordinarily you probably shouldn’t," Bolt said. "In most cars."