As the recent 1898 Porsche barn-find pointed out, electric and hybrid cars have been around for a long, long time. What many people, even “car people”, may not know, however, is that there were nearly five hundred carmakers trying to dominate the market in the early days of the twentieth century- and many of them were EV specialists. Take, for example, this gorgeous 1905 coupe built by Chicago’s Woods Motor Vehicle Company.
The guys at ConceptCarz found this fantastic example of the breed at a Hershey, PA auto auction back in 2010. They were able to dig up some of the early EV’s interesting history as it crossed the auction block, which we’ve shared, below …
1905 Woods Electric Chicago Coupe
The Woods Motor Vehicle Company was organized in Chicago in 1899. From the beginning, the company was destined for success as it had considerable financial backing, including $10 million in capital stock. The list of wealthy backers included a number of Standard Oil executives and wealthy men from Toronto, Canada. New York’s August Belmont, the American financier and builder of the famed Belmont Park racetrack, was another.
The company purchased the patents of Clinton E. Woods in hopes of challenging the electric-vehicle dominance of the East Coast-based Electric Vehicle Company. Woods had been designing electric vehicles since 1897 and was hired as superintended of the new company bearing his name, but was quickly ‘eased’ out of the company and returned to designing and manufacturing his owned designs by 1901. His operations soon went into receivership. His next venture was as an automobile dealer.
The Woods Motor Vehicle Company produced high quality and expensive vehicles, with many prices in the $3,000 range – a considerable sum for the era. They offered an extensive line of electric vehicles with wheelbase sizes ranging from 69-inches to 86-inches. The company would remain in production through 1918, when the company faded from existence as gasoline-powered automobiles began to dominate the marketplace.
This vehicle is a Style 214A Queen Victoria Brougham Electric that has a wheelbase size of 73-inches. It is believed to be the only surviving example. It is equipped with a removable cap for open-air touring and has seating for two passengers.
… you can see several more high-resolution photos of this classic, all-original Woods Electric EV over at the ConceptCarz website, but I’ve picked a few of my favorite shots to share of the ultra-rare survivor, here. Enjoy!