GIF: The Drive (YouTube)

When Rimac Automobili’s electric supercars aren’t getting totaled by Richard Hammond of The Grand Tour, they’re setting 0 to 60 mph times of under two seconds, which is insane. But a lot of us forget that the empire started with an electric-converted BMW E30, of all things. It’s incredible to see how far it’s come.

The video team over at The Drive on YouTube, who brought you the excellent documentary series going behind the scenes and into the history of Koenigsegg are back to take a look at Rimac, the upstart automaker that claims it’s more of a technology company, despite developing a near-2,000 horsepower electric supercar nearly from scratch.

Here’s the first episode of what’s supposed to be a four part series:

Mate Rimac, the CEO of Rimac Automobili, has always had a passion for cars, and later developed a passion for electronics and technology. After working on an BMW E30 3 Series electric conversion to go play with on a track on the weekends, Rimac was approached by Abu Dhabi investors who were curious to know if he had any other dream projects. Well, he did.

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Rimac teamed up with Adriano Mudri, who is now the head of design for the automaker, to begin developing their own car, and the Abu Dhabi investors took interest and agreed to buy two, if they could deliver. In five months, a team of five people managed to get a show car ready for the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

However, the Abu Dhabi investment fell through when the investors requested that Rimac move the operation out of Croatia, which was off the table. Stuck with a bunch of debt, Rimac tried to turn to automotive suppliers for parts and support, but all required insanely steep sums for even basic parts, like windshield wipers.

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Instead, Rimac’s team took on work from other unnamed automakers developing various parts, including 24 projects that sometimes including batteries and even entire powertrains. Doing the research and development for others not only helped to cover Rimac’s debt, but it also let them pursue the technologies they wanted for their own car, which they continued to develop.

And it seems to have worked out for them. Rimac is now entering a second round of investment following its introduction of the Rimac C_Two, with semi-autonomous technology and 1,914 horsepower. That’s a long way off from an E30 weekend project.