Motoring Trailblazers - Enfield 8000

Sun 12th Aug 2018

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Enfield 8000
The prospect of an electric car is not too hard to conceive to the modern motoring observer, but in the 1960s an EV was as alien as the sci-fi shows which dominated the TV networks.

The early concept came via a Electricity Council competition in 1966 which was to build a practical electric city car, Enfield Automotive, a British company owned by a wealthy Greek shipping family, entered the competition and promptly won it with a dinky 2+2 all plastic vehicle named the Enfield 465.

Four years later and as the 1970s came glaring into the view, Enfield created an improvement on the 465, using off the shelf parts based on the Reliant three-wheeler, the Hillman Imp and the Mini. The Enfield 8000 was put into production and during the oil crisis of the mid-1970s there was a real concern that electric vehicles may be the only option available. The Electricity Council showed continued backing for the project, buying more than half of the stock, though that sounds less impressive when you consider only 120 were ever produced.

An electric vehicle with nifty handling, simple controls, an amazing turning circle and run on eight lead-acid batteries, which brought with it excellent suspension - what was not to like? How about the price? You could buy a brand spanking new Ford Capri for the same price as the Enfield 8000. How about the speed? You’d struggle to get beyond 40mph in this electric chugger. How about the noise? These days EV comes with virtual silence, but those who drove an Enfield 8000 in the 70s sounded like a milk float. How about the charging? A six-hour overnight charge could give you a maximum range of 40 miles, if you could find a suitable point and if the weather was cold then that might drop to 15 miles!

Sales of the car slumped and even though California’s then Governor Ronald Reagan offered to help build a factory to build Enfields in his clean-air state, an offer which was turned down. The car was even illegal to drive in the homeland of its Greek owners.

Like the sound of an electric car? Find out what hybrid options are available at today.