World's Oldest Electric Car Gets Rebuilt, Driven (video)

Looking like the steampunk love-child of a Segway and an old English penny-farthing bicycle, Ayrton and Perry’s electric car offered its owners quiet operation and a top speed of 9 (nine) mph – courtesy of its 0.5kW vertical electric motor and 7.5Ah battery. Nine miles-per-hour may not seem too impressive today, but when the Ayrton and Perry electric was new – back in 1881 (!) – it was a sensation, easily matching the speed of horsedrawn carriages without the expense of stables and hands and without the black soot and dangerous crank-starting of the combustion-powered horseless carriages of the day.

The Ayrton and Perry electric shown here isn’t original (there are no surviving examples known), but it is a painstaking recreation by the German Autovision museum that used the original patent drawings to create this 100-point-perfect “recreation”, celebrating this electric-car milestone that was in production less than 18 months after Edison’s first electric lightbulb made its debut – and a full five years before Benz’ “first car”, three years before the first steam cars, and nearly twenty years before the first gas/electric hybrids (the 1900 Porsche Lohner hybrid) went on sale.

Perspective is pretty neat, eh?

Enjoy the video of Autovision’s Ayrton and Perry electric on the road (slowly), below.

Source | Photos: Gizmag.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.