It’s probably difficult to look at the road today, see all the electric cars gliding down the road without a sound, and say “There goes a classic car.” In part, this has to do with branding. Every electric vehicle sold is invariably touted as a new vision of the future, the evolution of automobiles, and above all, a solution to the drawbacks of conventional gas-powered cars. Indeed, classic car enthusiasts might even look at EVs and see a threat.
What if we told you there was already a classic electric car?
BMW has made particularly noticeable strides in bringing electric vehicles to the mass market, but it wasn’t the result of mere years of development. As this video shows, they’ve been working on electric vehicles for decades. Dating back to some of the first regulations on smog in California during the 1960s, BMW began researching alternate methods of propulsion. This was well before energy was green or blue or any color at all.
Their solution was based on the BMW 02 Series. Dubbed the Elektro, or the BMW 1602e, this small sedan is no different from any others that would have rolled off the assembly line in the late sixties. No different, except that instead of a trunk, it has a compartment that is full of twelve regular car batteries, linked together. They power an electric motor at the other end of the car and can be replaced or recharged as needed.
You might look at this configuration and think it isn’t particularly elegant. Indeed, the battery pack in the 1602e weighs more than six hundred pounds. The truth is, this setup isn’t that much different from modern electric cars. Nowadays, carmakers use lithium-ion batteries to save space and weight, although considering the relative miniaturization of other technologies, batteries have only advanced marginally.
Only two of the 1602e were made, and they saw use during the 1972 Munich Olympics where they accompanied distance runners along routes. They were perfect for this task as they provided an emissions free environment for athletes.