What happens when you take a 1968 all-American Ford Mustang Fastback muscle car, lovingly restore it, then replace its usual gas-guzzling engine with a massive pair of 11 inch NetGain electric motors, two of the world’s most powerful electric controllers, and a battery pack capable of pushing out somewhere near 1.5 megawatts of instantaneous power?
You get the Black Zombie, a street-legal all-electric drag racer that’s the collaboration of Texas-based Bloodshed Motors and Portland, Oregon-based electric drag racing legend John ‘PlasmaBoy’ Wayland. Capable of pushing around 2,000 horsepower to the rear wheels through a pair of Gear Vendors Overdrive units and 2:47 Ford nine inch differential, this classic muscle car can hit 60 mph from standstill in seven tenths of a second faster than Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] range-topping Model S P85D.
Over the weekend, that very same car went on to achieve something that very few cars — production or otherwise — can do. As the short post from Wayland on the National Electric Drag Racing Association newsgroup last Friday detailed, the Black Zombie took on the famed Texas Mile drag race, clocking a top speed of 174.2 mph in the street legal class.
And that makes it the fastest street legal electric car in the history of the race, bursting the previous record of 155 mph set by John Metric in 2012 in an all-electric Pontiac Fiero.
It also makes the Black Zombie the fastest first-generation Mustang in the world. Gasoline or Electric, beating the legendary — if unverified — record set in 1967 by the late Carroll Shelby in his 427 cubic inch (7-litre) Shelby GT500.
Black Zombie is the brainchild of former army drill instructor turned computer engineer Mitch Medford, a fan of muscle cars who, as our friends over at TheVerge explain, started up Bloodshed Motors, a garage that hopes to offer classic car owners the chance to turn their prized cars into super-fast street-legal dragsters.
Born with the smell of gasoline in his nose and oil pumping through his veins, Medford has always been a car guy, having been born into a ‘long line of mechanics and moonshiners.’ Even his first car, a 1966 Ford LTD Galaxie 500, eventually got the hot-rod treatment after he and his father fixed it up, allowing him one day to be clocked by a policeman at 137 mph despite the car’s speedometer only reaching 120.
As Medford explains it, his conversion from gasoline came one day while watching a certain BBC program by the name of Top Gear. In it, the (now fired) Jeremy Clarkson was drag-racing a Lotus Elise in a super-sexy Tesla Roadster. While that particular episode (and the review) are now infamous among plug-in fans worldwide and even led to Tesla taking the BBC to court, that Medford was hooked.
Fired up and excited, Medford was convinced that electric motors could revolutionise the automotive world. But rather than focus on brand new cars, he turned his attention to the world of muscle cars, where enthusiasts can spend tens of thousands of dollars tuning and fettling their prized rides to squeeze out a few extra tenths of a second on the strip.
It didn’t take him long to find the White Zombie: Wayland’s street-legal 1972 Datsun 1200. Converted over the past twenty years into a record-breaking beast, the White Zombie — which itself was inspired by Wayland’s first car, Blue Meanie — has held its share of records over the years, pushing boundaries ever upwards in the pursuit of electrified glory. Smaller and lighter than the Mustang, it takes 1.8 seconds to hit 60 mph, half a second faster than an Ariel Atom.
Medford reached out to Wayland, and sent an email that Wayland describes as being “well-written, intelligent”. Having lost his soul mate and wife several years earlier, much of Wayland’s original drive had gone, and it took him a while to respond.
When that fateful call was made however, the two hit it off. “It’s a good thing we’re not neighbours,” Wayland told TheVerge. “We’d be in trouble constantly.”
Last year, the pair got together in Texas, along with Medford’s former IBM college Jack Lapenta and electrician Allen Koester. Together, they spent a month tearing out the Mustang Fastback’s original components and installing the required twin motors, twin controllers and monster battery pack.
The Black Zombie was born, along with its official name, Zombie 222: two engines, two controllers and too damn fast.
Since then, a lot has happened. Black Zombie has put into some serious time at various drag strips, and even appeared in a an attempt by Bloodshed Motors to crowd-source the building of a second high-performance muscle car and kick-start its conversion business.
Sadly, that plan didn’t reach fruition, but the original Black Zombie continued to prove its stuff, racking up ever-faster times and showing unsuspecting race fans just what 1800 pound-feet of all-electric, instantaneous torque could do.
At the time of writing, neither Medford nor Bloodshed Motors have snagged their first customer. And at an estimated build cost more than twice that of a Tesla Model S, anyone who does sign up will need to have deep pockets to make their dream come true.
But for those who are finally yearning for an all-American muscle car, we think we’ve just found the perfect candidate.
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