Automotive

Tiny 1970s-era EV captures world speed record ... after a few modifications

Tiny 1970s-era EV captures wor...
Part of Smith's modifications include the fiberglass bumpers
Part of Smith's modifications include the fiberglass bumpers
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The world's new quickest (quarter mile) street-legal electric car
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The world's new quickest (quarter mile) street-legal electric car
The original 8-hp Enfield 8000 would have run into some problems going for a world record, but this version nailed it
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The original 8-hp Enfield 8000 would have run into some problems going for a world record, but this version nailed it
Part of Smith's modifications include the fiberglass bumpers
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Part of Smith's modifications include the fiberglass bumpers
The Flux Capacitor ran a 9.869 in the quarter-mile, beating out the White Zombie Datsun's 10.258
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The Flux Capacitor ran a 9.869 in the quarter-mile, beating out the White Zombie Datsun's 10.258
The Flux Capacitor screeches and smokes its way into the record books
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The Flux Capacitor screeches and smokes its way into the record books
The Flux Capacitor stretches just 112 in (284 cm), full length
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The Flux Capacitor stretches just 112 in (284 cm), full length
Not the face you'd expect to see on a world speed record holder
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Not the face you'd expect to see on a world speed record holder
Smith set the record at the UK's Santa Pod Raceway at the Dragstalgia event last weekend
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Smith set the record at the UK's Santa Pod Raceway at the Dragstalgia event last weekend
The car averaged 121 mph on its record run
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The car averaged 121 mph on its record run
"Here below is the pathetic little piece of crumpled paper which we have been working hard – with the invaluable help of Current Racing – for over 3 years to achieve. These are the runs we ran this weekend," reads the Flux Capacitor blog
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"Here below is the pathetic little piece of crumpled paper which we have been working hard – with the invaluable help of Current Racing – for over 3 years to achieve. These are the runs we ran this weekend," reads the Flux Capacitor blog
Smith and his world-record-breaking creation
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Smith and his world-record-breaking creation
Smith had help from a variety of sponsors and builders, including Adrian Flux insurance
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Smith had help from a variety of sponsors and builders, including Adrian Flux insurance
A peek inside the drag-ready Enfield 8000
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A peek inside the drag-ready Enfield 8000
The Flux Capacitor strikes a pose
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The Flux Capacitor strikes a pose
Attaching the charging hardware
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Attaching the charging hardware
Sketching out the charging port
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Sketching out the charging port
Jonny's Flux Capacitor 
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Jonny's Flux Capacitor 
The wheelie bar had to be removed for the "street legal" record run
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The wheelie bar had to be removed for the "street legal" record run
Working under the lights
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Working under the lights
Sounds like motivation
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Sounds like motivation
Smith and partners have been working on the project car for over four years
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Smith and partners have been working on the project car for over four years
Flux Capacitor in the shop
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Flux Capacitor in the shop
The Flux Capacitor has three battery packs under the hood and another one in the trunk area
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The Flux Capacitor has three battery packs under the hood and another one in the trunk area
The two motors are mounted in series inside a box steel cradle
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The two motors are mounted in series inside a box steel cradle
That's not a shifter ...
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That's not a shifter ...
The Flux Capacitor seems quite proficient at burnouts
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The Flux Capacitor seems quite proficient at burnouts
Readying the two motors
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Readying the two motors
Work followed by more work 
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Work followed by more work 
This shot gives an idea of how small the Enfield 8000 is
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This shot gives an idea of how small the Enfield 8000 is
Personalized disc brakes
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Personalized disc brakes
Front disc brake conversion
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Front disc brake conversion
Smith looked at the flood damage as a nice bargaining tool, since he was rebuilding the car's electrical architecture up to today's technological standards
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Smith looked at the flood damage as a nice bargaining tool, since he was rebuilding the car's electrical architecture up to today's technological standards
Since Smith had planned to replace the entire powertrain and electric structure, anyway, this rough state of affairs wasn't such a disavantage
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Since Smith had planned to replace the entire powertrain and electric structure, anyway, this rough state of affairs wasn't such a disavantage
Smith's 1974 Enfield 8000 was originally covered in light blue paintwork
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Smith's 1974 Enfield 8000 was originally covered in light blue paintwork
A whole lot of work ahead
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A whole lot of work ahead
Nothing about that screams "world record vehicle" 
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Nothing about that screams "world record vehicle" 
Getting ready for a completely new look
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Getting ready for a completely new look
Early-stage work on the Flux Capacitor
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Early-stage work on the Flux Capacitor
Early-stage work on the Flux Capacitor
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Early-stage work on the Flux Capacitor
Installation of the roll cage
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Installation of the roll cage
The Flux Capacitor wears vibrant Lambretta scooter Yellow Ochre paint
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The Flux Capacitor wears vibrant Lambretta scooter Yellow Ochre paint
The original Enfield 8000 was damaged in a flood, so it took a lot of work just to get it restored into shape, let alone into an 800-hp mini-muscle car
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The original Enfield 8000 was damaged in a flood, so it took a lot of work just to get it restored into shape, let alone into an 800-hp mini-muscle car
Work in progress
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Work in progress
Lexan window installation
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Lexan window installation
Lexan windows are another upgrade
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Lexan windows are another upgrade
Loading 'er up
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Loading 'er up
The Flux Capacitor's battery packs and battery management system were sourced from Hyperdrive Innovation
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The Flux Capacitor's battery packs and battery management system were sourced from Hyperdrive Innovation
The ultimate sleeper car? 
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The ultimate sleeper car? 
The world-record Flux Capacitor
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The world-record Flux Capacitor
Flux Capacitor under development
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Flux Capacitor under development
Preparing the hood area for battery packs
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Preparing the hood area for battery packs
Preparing the hood area for battery packs
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Preparing the hood area for battery packs
Jonny Smith and his proud creation
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Jonny Smith and his proud creation
Flux Capacitor
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Flux Capacitor
View gallery - 54 images

If you had to guess the street-legal electric car with the quickest quarter-mile time, the Tesla Model S P85D or Rimac Concept One might immediately pop to mind. What wouldn't pop to mind, even if you exhausted every electric vehicle you could think of, is the Enfield 8000. That's partly because you may never have heard of it, but mostly because 8-hp mini cars from the 1970s are rarely in the running for "world's quickest" anything. But a heavily upgraded all-electric Enfield 8000 known as the "Flux Capacitor" has taken a world record with its recent 9.86-second quarter mile.

Back in 2012, Jonny Smith, a car guy and motoring journalist you may know as a presenter on Fifth Gear, decided to restore a retro EV, putting the same type of love and care into it that some would put into restoring a classic Mustang or Corvette. The flood-damaged 1974 Enfield 8000 made the perfect project car for Smith because he planned to upgrade the electric powertrain and circuitry from the start, so it didn't matter that the original hardware was in shambles.

Smith's 1974 Enfield 8000 was originally covered in light blue paintwork
Smith's 1974 Enfield 8000 was originally covered in light blue paintwork

"The essence of this project is about resurrecting a forgotten EV underdog and giving it some 21st century hot rod inspired treatment, but with tongues in cheeks," Smith wrote on the Flux Capacitor blog back in January 2012. "It's all about taking an unlikely contender – an automotive Rocky Balboa – and turning it into a pint-sized zero emission hero."

In its day, the British-built Enfield 8000 relied on an 8-hp electric motor and lead acid batteries to power it up to about 45 mph (72 km/h) and 40 miles (64 km) per charge. That's a bit underpowered for a hero car, pint-sized or not, so Smith upgraded things ... by about 100 times. His Flux Capacitor uses twin DC motors from Current Racing, the guys behind the Beetle-based Black Current III, which owns the quarter-mile world record for fastest electric car with full-body (non-street-legal category). Those motors are mounted in series and drive the rear wheels without a gearbox.

The two motors are mounted in series inside a box steel cradle
The two motors are mounted in series inside a box steel cradle

When all fired up by the 188 lithium-ion battery cells, spread around the car in four individual packs, the motors put out 800+ hp and 1,200+ lb-ft of torque ... to power a tiny car that weighs 2,028-lb (920 kg). It's like Rocky Balboa hauled his log through the knee-high Russian snow and kept right on going across the rest of Russia, and back and forth, back and forth, until he was one giant muscle.

Plenty of upgrading was performed around the powertrain's greater environs, too. Major modifications and additions include a Webster Race Engineering roll cage welded to the original chassis, an overhauled suspension, larger 12-in front/14-in rear wheels, bespoke front disc brakes and Lexan windows.

The Flux Capacitor became track-worthy last year, and Smith and his project partners began testing and tweaking. Quarter-mile times started off around 16 seconds but had no intention of staying there, quickly dropping into the 12s and then the 11s. By September, the Flux Capacitor had hit 10.84 seconds, surpassing the Tesla Model S P85D and laying claim to the title of fastest street-legal EV in Europe.

The wheelie bar had to be removed for the "street legal" record run
The wheelie bar had to be removed for the "street legal" record run

By early 2016, Smith focused in on the world record, but a fearsome White Zombie Datsun still stood in his way. He inched closer, his times dipping farther into the 10s – but not quite far enough for the books.

Along with the aforementioned Black Current III, which sits on the NEDRA list at 9.35 seconds and recently hit 8.71, the White Zombie Datsun and its 10.25-second street-legal EV quarter-mile world record had served as the inspiration behind Smith's entire journey, even before he planned a world record attempt. It's quite fitting, then, that when the Flux Capacitor did break the world record, it nosed its way comfortably between those two. It happened last Saturday at the Santa Pod Raceway's Dragstalgia event, where Smith made the 9.86-second run at an average speed of 121 mph (195 km/h).

"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," says Smith. "Originally the car was designed to drive up to speeds of 40 mph. Now it triples the speed within quarter of a mile without any aerodynamic alterations – which is testament to the original design."

Smith set the record at the UK's Santa Pod Raceway at the Dragstalgia event last weekend
Smith set the record at the UK's Santa Pod Raceway at the Dragstalgia event last weekend

In addition to its world-record quarter mile, the Flux Capacitor has a spec sheet filled with other impressive numbers, including a listed sub-3-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h), 6-second 0-113 mph (182 km/h), and 140-mph (225 km/h) top speed. Its range? An underwhelming 50 miles (80 km). But Smith clearly hasn't built a Sunday cruiser for cross-country road trips to granny's.

"The car never feels like it is out of its comfort zone," says Smith. "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."

The car made the run in street-legal guise, which meant using treaded tires and leaving behind the wheelie bars you'll see in some of the photos. So while Smith didn't best his mentors at Current Racing, he didn't need to to capture the street-legal EV record.

Smith kindly let us browse through a huge album of his build and drive photos, so our gallery highlights the journey from original Enfield 8000 through to world record run.

Source: Flux Capacitor website

View gallery - 54 images
6 comments
gizmowiz
2 wheel drive on an EV is the height of poor decisions.
Buellrider
Absolutely an electrifying article. Now he needs to take it the other way and go for mileage.
gizmowiz
Imagine how much faster it would be if the stupid little thing had AWD.
christopher
Front wheel drive would be useless - they practically don't touch the ground (literally not with the wheelie bars fitted). He could probably eradicate a further 1s replacing the "wheelie bars" with self-leveling drone technology: computers are a lot faster at preventing the vehicle flipping than a human would be.
voluntaryist
Why handicap yourself with an old ICE platform? Wouldn't it make sense to start with the Aptera platform?
Riaanh
Well done Jonny, love it!!!! ### GREAT FUN ### I would really like to see this at a traffic light, next to a big American V8....... their faces To some of the other Commentators...where is your sense of humor guys?