The world’s fastest road-legal electric vehicle, with quicker acceleration than many supercars, has gone on display for visitors to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. A re-engineered 1974 Enfield 8000, which set a world speed record by accelerating to 121 mph in just 9.86 seconds on the Santa Pod Raceway quarter-mile drag strip in July, is the car joining the Driving Change display of motoring innovations and technology.
This Enfield is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Producing 800bhp of power and more than 1200lb ft (1627 Nm) of torque from its twin DC electric motors, the rebuilt historic EV (Electric Vehicle) is a formidable drag racer with supercar-beating performance. Though it is completely road legal and remains docile enough to also drive at normal road speeds. The car’s drag racing name ‘Flux Capacitor’ is a tribute to the time-travelling Delorean in the Back to the Future films.
Its owner is a familiar face and you would’ve already seen him presenting Channel 5’s Fifth Gear. Motoring journalist Jonny Smith rebuilt the Enfield to show how fast an electric car could be and to challenge the public’s perception of EVs as limited and sluggish. However, as the British-built Enfield’s original 6kW electric motor gave just 8bhp and a 40mph maximum speed, it has been completely re-engineered with the latest electrical technology.
Discovered in a terrible state in 2012, with the original electrical equipment wrecked by flood water damage, the Enfield is now fitted with two DC electric motors rated at 2000 amps – in stark contrast to the 150 amp rating of the car’s original electrical system. As many as 188 Lithium-ion cells, formerly used in a military helicopter, provide the power and are half the weight of the Enfield’s eight original 12-volt batteries, yet much more efficient. Smith estimates the car’s new top speed to be in the region of 140mph, with a range of 50 miles between charges.
The car’s aluminium bodywork has been left unaltered, but the tubular steel space-frame chassis was modified to cope with the significant power increase. Bespoke braking and suspension systems were fitted and a tougher Ford rear axle replaced the original Reliant part, while the tiny wheels were swapped for bigger 1970s slot mag wheels. There is no gearbox, with the electric motors driving the rear axle directly.