Resembles a block of cheese, faster than a Ferrari
Worrying about the price of fuel is not a new concept. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Arab nations fiercely opposed United States support for Israel. In response, Arab oil producers imposed a trade embargo on America and its allies, limiting the supply of crude oil. The cost of petrol rocketed, prices eventually quadrupled. In the UK, there was such widespread panic over petrol that the government held talks, deliberating over introducing fuel rations. From the rising fuel prices and escalating global political instability, some saw opportunity.
Enfield, a company that began business as a weapons manufacturer, later moving to motorcycles and lawn movers, seized that opportunity. Already bearing one failed attempt at producing an electric car, they decided to have one more shot, building a miniature, two-seater electric vehicle.
Manufactured on the Isle of Wight, the Enfield 8000 was built from a full aluminium body and possessed the proportions of a block of cheese. Fundamentally, the 8000 wasn’t a bad attempt at an electric car. It had an urban friendly top speed of around 40mph, and a range of between 35-55 miles dependent on how gently you caressed the throttle. It even came with run flat tyres! However, there was one substantial drawback, the price - £2808 to be precise. To put this into perspective, in 1973, this would buy you two brand new minis! Sadly, the Enfield was a cataclysmic failure, with only 108 or 120 sold (the precise number has been lost in the history of time).
The UK Electricity Council initially purchased half the Enfields for research and promotional purposes. By the 1980s most had been scrapped, and the Enfield 8000 vanished into the dark abyss of automotive history. More than three decades later, this elusive vehicle has been resurrected from its lead acid soaked grave - and thrown into the limelight. On the 18th of July 2016, Jonny Smith, a motoring journalist and television presenter, set the worlds fastest, road legal electric car record in…. you guessed it an Enfield 8000.
Dubbed ‘Jonny’s Flux Capacitor’, the teeny Enfield posted an ineffably astonishing 9.86 seconds down Santa Pod’s quarter mile! Incidentally, an entire second faster than Tesla’s superlative P90D equipped with ‘strain all the muscles in your neck mode’.
Without delving too deeply into the technicalities of this innovative rebuild, Jonny has retained the Enfield’s original body, replacing everything with 21st century technology. In brief - the heart of the Enfield has been rejuvenated, the archaic lead acid batteries substituted for ultra modern, high tech, lithium iron batteries, and a comprehensive mechanical overhaul, thanks to Webster Race Engineering.
Wholehearted reverence for Jonny - and his Flux Capacitor. Granted, practicality is not within its repertoire and to describe the Enfield as commodious would be to call a bedsit in Blackpool palatial. After a long drive (providing you’re lucky enough to have reached your destination) you’d soon realise you can no longer walk, thanks to severe spinal discomfort and muscle paralysis. And at high speed, occupants may find themselves in another dimension - the mid 1950s possibly, or was it the Old West? Anyways, Jonny has created a nanoscopic gem, generating far superior power to contemporary four-wheeled machinery. And, best of all, this little titan can be used for the late night McDonald’s drive-through excursion!
Perhaps, most importantly, Jonny has achieved all this in a vehicle viewed in the 70s as a complete failure. A compact city car that, in my eyes, was far ahead of its time, offering an (almost) practical solution to the zero emissions, electric powered automobile, proving testament to British engineering. All hail the Enfield 8000! If only the original could have reached 88mph…
(To see Jonny's Flux Capacitor in action watch Robert Llewellyn's video on his utterly brilliant YouTube channel 'Fully Charged'.)