• Jan 12, 2010
1899 La Jamais Contente landspeed racer – Click above for high-res image gallery

There was a time when electric cars were some of the fastest land-borne vehicles ever made. The electric motors powering the vehicles have always been plenty powerful, sending a boatload of torque to the wheels at very low RPMs. And, depending on the chosen gearing, all that torque can result in relatively high speeds.

Proof of such can be seen in the La Jamais Contente from 1899. Driven by Belgian racecar driver Camille Jenatzy, this electric vehicle was the first car to break 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 miles per hour). Two electric motors powered the bullet-shaped machine to such high speeds, each putting out 50 kW to the rear wheels.

Batteries have always been the stumbling block, but the Contente's 100 two-volt cells apparently had enough juice to push the 3,197-pound racer to record high velocities. The vehicle pictured here, which is currently on display at the Detroit Motor Show, is a replica of the original and was assembled in 1993-1994 by technical students in France. Seriously, how cool is this thing?

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      3200 pounds?!?!?!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd drive that over a Volt any day... seriously.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Man, 100km/h in that Radio Flyer must be scary as hell.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Friggin' cool is how cool it is!
      • 5 Years Ago
      i want a diesel + electric 2011 ford f250 supercab with 4x4 and tonka yellow

      shi+ would slay pu$$y

      • 5 Years Ago
      after its record setting run, a four in hand drayage team of Belgium Brabants hauled it back to the start line, at an average speed for the day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does it come in a hard top version?

      If so, I've got my checkbook ready.
      • 5 Years Ago
      One of the first, if not THE first, instance of aerodynamics on a vehicle to minimize drag.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why bother with the prius when you can have one of these? I think we should put the two on a drag strip
        • 5 Years Ago
        I had no idea there were electric motors back than.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I for one, think its reVOLTing. Back to the andy griffith show now....
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