The Tiny All-Electric Elcar Had a 55 Mile Range and Sounded Like a Lawnmower [Correction: I'm A Dumbass]

Ah man, it’s so tiny
Gif: 1975OLDSMOBILE98 (YouTube)

We’ve written plenty before about the wonderfully weird electric car market of the past, but, thanks to The Dallas Morning News for digging up an old story this week, I want to stake out the 1975 all-electric Elcar as my likely favorite pick of that era.


The boxy, adorably weird little thing managed to crank out a 55 mile range on a single charge, The Morning News recounts in a story about a Texas man who purchased the Model-1000 Elcar in the 1970s.

W.B. Frazier purchased his Model-1000 Elcar from an Arlington dealership in 1975 for $2,645. Though the car could only go 28 mph and had a 55-mile range, he drove from his home in Red Oak to work in Dallas. We can only hope that he didn’t hit much traffic in his 30-mile commute.

The News says the Elcar was one of two mass-produced electric cars that came in response to the 1973 oil crisis, but it didn’t last long. In short order, the car was “deemed unsafe by the Consumer’s Union,” according to the news organization.

Frazier made a killing by relying on the Elcar, though.

Though finding a place to charge his car wasn’t easy, Frazier enjoyed his electric car because it saved him gas money — he could get to work on a whole 7 cents.

That’s only 32 cents today, and for a 30-mile commute, that’s not bad at all. Of course, the trade off was that he drove to work in a tiny box that sounded, based on the video below, like a goddamn lawnmower. [Correction: August 1, 2018, 4:00 p.m. ET: Yesterday, in the heat of my blogging duties and the day to day of this crazy little thing we call life, I took a moment to take in a post by the Dallas Morning News on the lovely Elcar, watched a clip the newspaper attached, as seen below, and despite the very obvious signs that this was indeed not an electric car—for example, the, uh, exhaust, and the, uh, incredibly loud and obvious lawnmower noise—hastily wrote up a blog that reflected this dead wrong point. As one of our lovely commenters pointed out, the same video was posted elsewhere and this particular example includes a 250cc ATV engine. I regret the error immensely, and, please, continue owning me in the comments at your pleasure.]

A while back, Autoweek dug up its old review of the Elcar 2000—hilariously titled The Elcar Is Watts Happening—which had this to say about the driving experience:

The damned thing will turn on a dime (if your dime has a 10 foot radius) nearly flat out. In an open parking lot, it is a ball. Traffic is another story. It takes a lot getting used to. One drives flatout all the time.


The renewed electric revolution needs a box like the Elcar. Someone make it happen.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk


For Sweden

Why does an electric car sound like a lawnmower