This tiny 70s Bri­tish elec­tric ve­hi­cle smashes world speed record

The Oban Times - - Mo­tors -

A TINY Bri­tish elec­tric ve­hi­cle from the 1970s has be­come the world’s quick­est street le­gal EV in the hands of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist and se­rial car mod­i­fier Jonny Smith.

The En­field 8000, a for­got­ten city car built on the Isle of Wight in the oil cri­sis era, stormed through the quar­ter-mile sprint at Santa Pod on Satur­day in a record-smash­ing 9.86 sec­onds at an av­er­age 121mph.

Orig­i­nally boast­ing just 8hp, the car dubbed the Flux Ca­pac­i­tor now packs more than 800bhp, 1,200lbft of torque and qui­etly rock­ets to 113mph in six sec­onds.

To put that in per­spec­tive, it out­paces mod­ern su­per­cars like the Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor, McLaren’s 650S, a Porsche 911 Turbo S, Nis­san GT-R and even Tesla’s in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble P90D elec­tric car.

Jonny snatched the world record, which stood at 10.25 sec­onds, from the car that in­spired him in the first place – an elec­tric con­verted old Dat­sun owned by John Way­land from Port­land, Ore­gon.

‘I’m in awe of what this lit­tle yel­low thing can cope with,’ said Jonny, who has pre­sented TV’s Fifth Gear since 2006 and ap­proached Adrian Flux to spon­sor his dream four years ago.

‘De­spite so many rac­ers telling me that a 68-inch 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 40mph. Now it triples the speed within quar­ter of a mile with­out any aero­dy­namic al­ter­ations – which is tes­ta­ment to the orig­i­nal de­sign.

‘ The orig­i­nal de­signer, John Ack­royd, spent a lot of bud­get on the aero­dy­nam­ics and went on to work with Richard No­ble on Thrust 2.

‘ 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 left-field enough to prove that David cer­tainly can beat Go­liath. I’m deeply thank­ful to all of the pos­i­tive sup­port from my spon­sors, with­out which I couldn’t have achieved this at all – Adrian Flux in­surance, Hyper­drive, Gas It, Vin­tage VDB watches, Cas­tor Vali global risk man­age­ment and An­dri­aki Ship­ping com­pany.’

Jonny res­cued the En­field, then a flood­dam­aged write- off, four years ago, and re­stored the car be­fore adding 21st cen­tury elec­tric tech­nol­ogy.

The car is pow­ered by 188 lithium-ion bat­tery cells built into en­clo­sures un­der the bon­net and boot, gen­er­at­ing 2000 amps and 400 volts to a pair of DC nineinch mo­tors to drive the back wheels.

Th­ese bat­ter­ies are nor­mally seen run­ning the mini­guns and start­ing the en­gines of a Bell Su­per Co­bra at­tack he­li­copter, but built for the car by Hyper­drive In­no­va­tions in Sun­der­land.

De­spite reach­ing 100mph in un­der six sec­onds and only be­ing 112 inches (2.8 me­tres) long, Jonny’s En­field is still road le­gal, tax ex­empt and Lon­don con­ges­tion charge ex­empt.

As part of the drag rac­ing se­ries he com­petes in, the Street Elim­i­na­tor en­trants must prove their road­wor­thi­ness as part of the qual­i­fy­ing process by way of a manda­tory 26-mile cruise around Northamp­ton­shire.

Be­ing road le­gal means the car has to run treaded tyres, and no wheelie bars, which might help the 68-inch (1.7-me­tre) wheel­base to stay straight un­der full ac­cel­er­a­tion.

But even with­out them, the Flux Ca­pac­i­tor runs straight and true – and very, very fast.

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