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Peter Swain started the UK’s RBW as a traditional classic and sports car restoration business back in early 2017. As it’s a family business, he named it after his children (RBW stands for Rose, Becky and Wesley). It recently unveiled the pre-production model of its electric classic roadster, the RBW EV Roadster.

Auto Futures has been talking to RBW’s Managing Director, Swain, about how he founded the company and why choose to go electric.

“Towards the end of 2017, my wife Jane and I were out with friends in my 1960 MGB Roadster. I’ve owned many MGs since I was a youngster so always had an affinity with them. We stopped in the Cotswolds for coffee, at what is said to be the most photographed spot, but when we got back to the car, it was the classic that was being photographed,” he says.

“Jane then said how much she loved the MGB Roadster but didn’t feel confident driving it or taking it out on her own. She joked that I should build her one that drove like a modern car but still looked like a classic, maybe it should be electric. Jane may have been joking but I wasn’t laughing. What a brilliant idea!”

The very next day, Swain built a crude model out of wood, foam, and any other materials he could get his hands on. He then started contacting a number of automotive engineering companies. 

“Continental Engineering Services got in touch and within a week, I was sitting down with their CEO starting to make this car a reality. It’s taken three years to get where we are now but the car is as safe as it is stylish, and drives like a sports car. It’s just what we wanted. We also gained the European Regulation No 100 of the Economic Commission, which confirms RBW as a recognised automotive worldwide manufacturer. This opens up a world of opportunities for both RBW and the patented system we have created for the car.”

Rbw Ev Classic Cars Md Peter Swain

Preserving the Classics

Swain says he wanted to go for an electric vehicle to safeguard the future of classic motoring.

“With the laws changing on fuels and emissions, the popularity of electric vehicles is on the rise. My concern was that they all look the same. What would happen to the classics that started my love of motoring, the cars that were so individual and had great personality?”

“We have to preserve as much of our motoring heritage as possible. This is my way of helping,” adds Swain,

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Technology Under the Bonnet

The RBW EV Roadster takes the classic sports car design and enhances it for the modern world.

“Under the brand-new heritage body shell from British Motor Heritage, sits a patented power drivetrain system. Our patented system places the electric motor at the rear of the car and Hyperdrive Innovation’s lithium-ion battery technology under the bonnet, which gives perfectly balanced weight distribution. Not only does this give the driver much better handling of the car, retaining that sports car feel, but it also affords maximum battery volume to be housed.”

Swain adds: “It has bespoke-built front and rear suspension, all independent utilising coil-over damper technology around the vehicle, and OEM developed brakes discs and callipers, with Regen braking also included. It also has the latest generation of hub design and wheel bearing technology installed. All parts and components installed are brand new.”


Designed for the Modern Driver

The dashboard and switches of the RBW EV Roadster have been handcrafted in the same way as the car. Swain says the display combines driver gauges and messages with safety diagnostic symbols in an easy-to-use graphic interface.

“We’re very lucky to partner with Pioneer to install Pioneer’s Flagship Wi-Fi® enabled built-in navigation system with a large motorised 7-inch 24bit True Colour Capacitive WVGA multi-touchscreen to the dashboard.” 

“It also features a HDMI input to mirror smart phones, SD Card input and Dual USB inputs and gold-plated RCA connectors for the highest audio quality possible. So it’s ideal for the modern driver,” he adds.

Rbw Roadster Ext Dashboard



You can still make the tyres squeal and smoke so it’s a great pay off

Swain tells us how RBW’s manufacturing process works. “Once we have the client specification, RBW starts with preparing the bodyshell, doing any modifications, priming, etc before painting. It also fits the foundation brakes and pedal box.”

Continental Engineering Services then takes over with the electrification, installing the drivetrain and moving mechanical elements before installing the battery.

“The car then goes through the first round of testing. Back to RBW for the interior fit out, lights, windscreen, brightwork, etc. Then it’s the ‘end of the line’ testing which assesses all the safety and functionality elements.”

“Continental Engineering Services has 20 years of experience of optimising Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) in vehicles like ours so the car has been designed to have the right isolation mountings from the motor to the drive train. It then has sound absorbing materials within the cavities to reduce the NVH,” he explains.

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The weight balance of the RBW EV Roadster means that, while it drives like a modern electric vehicle, it still has that handling of a sports car.

“You can swing the back end out around the corners, you can still put your foot down and feel the power – you just can’t hear it as much. Although you can still make the tyres squeal and smoke so it’s a great pay off.”

“Further model developments are already underway with a fixed head GT version to follow in 2021 along with a second RBW electric recreation. What’s exciting for us is that the RBW System and architecture can be installed into other body shells such as Austin Healey, Jaguar E-Type, Mini, and many more. Each car can be built to the clients’ personal specification and requirements,” concludes Swain.

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