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1975 Enfield 8000 electric become’s Europe’s quickest street legal electric car

A 40-year-old 1975 Enfield 8000 electric city car has been transformed into a Tesla-beating drag car, becoming Europe’s quickest street legal electric car.

UK TV PRESENTER Jonny Smith (Fifth Gear)has just piloted a 40-year-old 1975 Enfield 8000 electric city car to become Europe’s quickest street legal electric car. It’s taken three years of hard slog, but the micro car that had just 8hp and a 40mph (64km/h) top speed when released in 1975 has hammered down the quarter-mile (courtesy of 1000hp) in 10.84 seconds at 121mph (193km/h). The Tesla S P85 held the record at 11.5 seconds.

“I still cannot believe what that little car is capable of,” said Jonny. “The little paper timing slip never lies, and when it revealed a 10 second pass I was so happy I kissed my crew mate Nick Farrow on the lips.

“This weekend the car not only clinched but blitzed the European record for a street legal electric car. Never in my dreams did I think the Enfield was capable of this kind of performance.”

Earlier in the year the car managed to run a 12-second quarter mile, then into the 11s.

But last weekend the silent Enfield was entered into the highly contested Street Eliminator category at Santa Pod drag strip, where some of the fastest cars compete, all with current MoTs, tax and running on street legal tyres. In order to prove its road legal credentials, prior to the racing there is a mandatory 25-mile street cruise around the Northants countryside.

“If you break down and can’t get back to the race track without outside help, you’re disqualified. Harsh, but we managed to keep our charge and complete the event.”

Qualifying with an 11.27 second quarter mile at 118mph, the Enfield was fitted with taller axle gears to help it go even faster.

Jonny Smith holds the timeslip for the Enfield 8000 electric

“We had two hours to recharge after the gruelling cruise before heading into race one. It wasn’t a lot of time. To be honest I was happy to have qualified at all given most of my competitors are running over 1500bhp twin turbo V8s,” said Jonny.

And then, 40 years after it was built on the Isle of Wight, the car originally designed as an electric city runabout in the midst of the 1970s oil crisis, tore up the strip in a staggering 10.84 seconds at 121mph.

“This would be a serious feat for a modern supercar, let alone something 2.8 metres long that was designed for a maximum of 40 mph,” said Jonny.

“The numbers showed we’d got the thing from 0-102mph in 6.9 seconds. When new it couldn’t even do 60. They measured performance in the brochure quoting 0-30mph in 12.5 seconds. Mind you, it had 6kW of power then. Now it’s got 600kW.

“I was racing against a 2000bhp Nissan GT-R, so I knew I’d need some miracle to win. With a 10 second quarter mile in a tiny electric car in front of thousands of spectactors, I couldn’t have been happier to lose.

“While it is a very left-field project, the attention the Flux Capacitor got over the last few days is ridiculous. We had serious dyed in the wool drag racers come over and give us respect. I think – I hope – the Flux Capacitor has gone a little way to showing people that electric cars are nothing new, and that they can be charismatic and mighty fast.”

Jonny had been planning this Enfield renovation and record attempt “long before Tesla launched its supercar-killing model S P85 electric saloon, and prior to the Formula E race series”. He dubbed the car the Flux Capacitor “with the idea of going Back to the Future of the electric car, and as a nod to the sponsor, insurance broker Adrian Flux”.

 Enfield 8000 electric

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober