This Vintage EV From 1968 Is Today's Pick on Bring a Trailer

1968 mars ii electric project
This Vintage EV From 1968 Is Today's Pick on BaTBring a Trailer
  • Many early EVs are still shrouded in obscurity, such as the Mars II Electric.

  • Based on the Renault R10, this is one of just 45 built.

  • This example is a project car, but it has the potential to be built up as a scorching restomod.

The future is electric, but so too was the past. Early EVs are variously interesting and quirky, and while battery packs can age out of holding a charge, the rest of an electric powertrain is pretty long-lived. Here's a piece of history that'd be interesting to everyone from vintage a French car enthusiast to a Tesla Model Y owner. Heck, you could get to Mars before Elon does.

1968 mars ii electric project side
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This Mars II Electric, up for auction on Bring A Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos) is one of a reported 45 vehicles built by Electric Fuel Propulsion (EFP) in Detroit. A pioneer in EVs, EFP still exists today as Apollo Energy Systems, a manufacturer of batteries and fuel cells. In the 1960s, it was at the cutting edge of EV technology. The company later went on to build an electric version of the AMC Hornet, called the Electrosport. Unfortunately, the public wasn't quite ready yet.

Whereas the Electrosport was intended for mass production, the earlier Mars II Electric was sold mostly to utility companies. Its specs hold up surprisingly well: a total range of around 120 miles, capable of highway speeds, and able to charge up to 80 percent in just 45 minutes at 50 kW. The Mars II even had regenerative braking capability, ground-breaking stuff in 1968.

1968 mars ii electric project rear
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EFP founder Robert Aronson did several well-publicized road trips in a Mars II, working with utility companies to set up charging points. The technology provably worked, but even when the later fuel crises of the 1970s hit, combustion power was cheaper and more widespread. The Mars, Electrosport, and various other EFP electric-vehicle creations remained forerunners, but niche ones.

1968 mars ii electric project
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This particular example is a non-running project, with just four of its original 20 six-volt batteries remaining. EFP built the cars from a complete Renault R10, which by itself would be an interesting car. The fact that it's an EV from a time before the moon landings makes it a real history piece.

1968 mars ii electric project interior
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But it doesn't have to be confined to a museum. Thanks to the rise of classic car EV conversions, there are plenty of options for resurrecting life on Mars. An upfitter such as EV West, which typically does VW and Porsche projects, could put together something neat, with a Tesla-sourced lithium battery pack and a modern, tire-smoking electric motor. The R10's rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout makes it ideal for such as swap.

This no-reserve ends on June 19, which means this Mars II will be heading to a new landing pad soon. With a bit of ambition, this pioneering EV could finally live in the future it predicted so long ago.

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