With 800 HP it's faster than most modern supercars.
A tiny British car from 1974 last weekend became the fastest street-legal electric drag car in the world, setting a time of 9.86 seconds at 121 miles per hour (195 kilometres per hour) at Santa Pod, England.
The car in question started life as an Enfield 8000, an electric city car ironically built on the decidedly rural Isle of Man. Mustering a mighty eight horsepower, it could power to a top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h). Then it was bought as a flood-damaged restoration project by motoring journalist and TV presenter Jonny Smith, with the specific intention to turn it into an electric drag car.
The project took more than two years to reach the drag strip. After restoring the fibreglass bodyshell, 188 lithium-ion battery cells were built into enclosures under the hood and trunk, generating 2,000 amps and 400 volts to a pair of DC 9-inch motors to drive the back wheels. Incidentally, the batteries usually power the miniguns on a Bell Super Cobra Attack helicopter.
The result is 800 hp and 1,200 pound-feet of torque. With virtually no weight to haul around, it jumps from 0 to 102 mph (164 km/h) in 6.9 seconds. That's quite a lot quicker than the McLaren 650S, Nissan GT-R, and Lamborghini Aventador. It's nickname of Flux Capacitor seems entirely appropriate.
Running in the Street Eliminator class, it is completely road legal, runs on treaded tires, doesn't have a wheelie bar, and has to complete a 26-mile (24-km) cruise during qualifying. Bodily, it's completely standard, too, despite measuring just 112 inches (2,845 millimetres) from stem to stern.
Jonny said: “Despite so many racers telling me that a 68-inch (1,727 mm) wheelbase car could never safely go as fast as we wanted, the Enfield has proved them wrong.
“Originally the car was designed to drive up to speeds of 40 mph (64 km/h). Now it triples the speed within quarter of a mile without any aerodynamic alterations – which is a testament to the original design.
“The car never feels like it is out of its comfort zone. To be honest I have disconnected the speedo, and just drive it by feel. You quickly forget how small it is when the lights go green. The instant electric torque delivery is something I have never experienced in over 15 years of driving and testing sports cars.
“I set out to build a British electric hot rod. I hope I've achieved something leftfield enough to prove that David certainly can beat Goliath."
The road-legal EV quarter-mile record stood at 10.25 seconds, set by John Wayland from Portland, Oregon in his Datsun. The man and his machine inspired the Flux Capacitor.
The all-time record currently stands at 7.631 seconds.