Robert Downey Jr. will decarbonise classic cars in new show

A new series from Max (formerly HBO Max) will follow actor and self-confessed petrolhead Robert Downey Jr on a journey to convert his collection of classic cars into hybrid and even fully electric versions.

With the first trailer dropping on May 18, we got our first look at what the show will entail, showcasing a number of gorgeous cars, some classic Downey quips, and a team of people working to convert the fossil fuel-powered engines into machines that are kinder to the planet.

Some of the cars featured include a Rimac Nevera, a C2 Corvette, a Volkswagen T1 campervan, and a Chevrolet El Camino.

“We are what we drive and, having amassed a formidable collection of classic cars over the years, I was a petrol-spewing mess,” said Downey in a statement from Max. “And a hypocrite, as I’d founded the Footprint Coalition in 2019 to scale technologies that mitigate climate change.

“Fortunately, I’m a bit of a dreamer. The last three years have been an experiment in hope, as I engaged the best and brightest minds to evaluate, educate, elevate, and decarbonise these vehicles in a way that demonstrates the limitless potential of creative problem-solving. It was a huge challenge and an enlightening journey.”

Decarbonising cars is no easy feat. It requires a high level of expertise, with an experienced mechanic manually removing the excessive carbon deposits on the cylinder head.

The remaining carbon deposits from the combustion chamber and piston valves then need to be physically scraped out, with the help of a liquid degreasing solution.

All in all, decarbonising cars usually costs at least upwards of £15,000 here in the UK, with some cars easily increasing to £30,000 — or more.

That’s not to mention the fact that several of the cars Downey is playing with here are unique or classic cars, some without readily available parts to adapt on the fly, adding some extra spice to the challenge.

While this show probably won’t be teaching the everyday person how to turn their petrol car into a lean, mean electric machine, it does show that there are compromises to be had between classic car lovers and environmentalists.

The Max Original docuseries Downey’s Dream Carsdebuts with two episodes premiering on Thursday, June 22.

Two new episodes will debut following Thursday’s premiere, with the final parts of the six-episode series airing on July 6.