1970s Enfield 8000 Electric Car Hot Rod Now Quickest Street-Legal Electric Car in Europe

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, prompted in part by a run of oil crises which threatened to cut off oil supply to much of Europe and North America, large and small automakers alike were working hard to build fully-electric alternatives to the internal combustion engine vehicle.

Nearly every one was built with an optimistic, futuristic design, tiny wheels, and an even smaller electric motor. Powered by heavy lead-acid batteries, they had a limited top speed and limited range. Most never even made it to production, but the diminutive Enfield E800- ECC (Electric City Car) was one such vehicle.

All summer, Jonny and his team have pushed the enfield ever faster. (Photo: Flickr user Mark Skinner, used with permission)

All summer, Jonny and his team have pushed the enfield ever faster. (Photo: Flickr user Mark Skinner, used with permission)

Built by a British-based automaker owned by greek millionaire Giannis Goulandris, many of the 120 or so Enfield E8000 cars built by hand on the Isle of Wight entered into service with British utility companies before becoming curios and collectors’ items in the 40 years or so since their creation.

But one — now known as the “Flux Capacitor” — has forgone the quiet life as an antique vehicle to become Europe’s quickest street-legal electric hotrod, posting a 10.84 second quarter mile time at 121 mph at the Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire, England.

As long-time readers to the site will know, the car now known as the Flux Capacitor was once owned by our very own Kate Walton Elliott, who purchased it for her mother to use as a zero-emission runabout for trips around her local village. After a terrible flood destroyed the original car however, the tiny blue Enfield found a new owner in the form of well-known motoring journalist and TV presenter Jonny Smith.

Jonny’s goal? To make the vintage plug-in faster than a Tesla Model S.

The original motor in this electric car produced 6 kilowatts of power. Now it has more than 600.

The original motor in this electric car produced 6 kilowatts of power. Now it has more than 600.

Thanks to enthusiasm and help from some of the electric drag racing world’s brightest minds, Jonny and his team tore out the Enfield’s original 6 kilowatt electric motor and replaced it with not one but two massive 9-inch series-wound electric motors. Combined with a monster Zilla 2k power controller and a custom-built lithium-ion battery pack based on cells usually found in military helicopters , the Enfield’s total power output rose to more than 600 kilowatts.

Married to a tiny driveshaft the size of a drinks can connected to a heavily modified Ford 9 inch rear axle and fitted with appropriate street-legal tires, the Flux Capacitor has been a regular at Santa Pod for the past few months as Jonny and his team push the car ever further.

On Saturday, the Flux Capacitor went faster than ever before, hitting 102 mph in 6.9 seconds and going on to complete the quarter mile in 10.8 seconds.

Jonny was suitably happy.

To put that into perspective, Tesla’s flagship Model S P85D is capable of an 11.6-second  quarter mile.

While there are faster electric cars in Europe, including Black Current III as raced by Jonny’s mentors from Black Current Racing, the super-fast Volkswagen Beetle is built purely for the drag strip and isn’t road legal.

Jonny’s car meanwhile, is fully street legal — just like John ‘Plasmaboy’ Wayland’s White Zombie — which like Transport Evolved’s head office, is based in Portland, Oregon.

On paper, the larger, more powerful White Zombie has the performance edge, with its most recent quarter mile records coming in at well into the 9s. But even though the two cars are an ocean apart, we’re hoping it won’t be long before a showdown takes place.

After all, who wouldn’t want to watch two of the fastest street-legal custom-built electric sleepers race head to head?


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