$750 EV! Cheap Geo Prism Electric Car

So here at Barn Finds, we’re largely petrol-lovin’, tire-smokin’ enthusiasts that salivate over a good muscle car find. But we’re also a collection of folks who like the ocassional oddball, and to me, it doesn’t get much stranger than finding one of the many one-off cars converted into electric modes of transportation. This dirt-cheap $750 Geo Prism EV here on craigslist looks like it was built by legitimate company, and with only 4,843 miles, it could be just the thing for keeping miles off of your hotrod.

I did some digging, and it seems the future was bleak for the California-based U.S. Electricar company back in the mid-90s. Cashflow was non-existent and investors were pulling out left and right. Whether this was commentary on their build quality, business management skills or the overall hunger by consumers for electric vehicles requires further research, but based on this engine bay shot alone, the near-factory like installation is far better than most backyard conversions we’ve seen.

Personally, I have no reason to doubt the mileage, as I suspect this Geo didn’t get too far before it ran into mechanical issues. Such malfunctions only get worse when there’s zero factory support behind the vehicle, as I suspect you can’t just call up the Electricar help line or get serviced by your local GM dealer when the batteries go dead. The seller in this case doesn’t ever say that the car is running, and its storage on the back of a trailer doesn’t bode well for the likelihood of it being a runner.

Inside, it’s still the plain-jane Geo Prism interior – bargain basement seating and interior features, but also less stuff to break. The good news is once you figure out the running issues, everything else can likely be junkyard-sourced, and there are plenty of these lining the rows of the local u-pull-it. So what do our EV experts think: can this once-proud U.S. Electricar be brought back to life with parts from Radio Shack, or is doomed to be a footnote of electric car failures?

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Comments

  1. Don

    I do like the High Voltage sign on the fire wall!

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  2. edh

    I doubt the Geo Prism, AKA Toyota Corolla, had too many issue or lacked any factory support at least until it received this conversion.

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  3. Jeffro

    All it needs is 30,000 AAA batteries and it’ll be fine.

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  4. Vin in NJ

    Batteries Not Included

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  5. Francisco

    Shocking!

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  6. JW

    Dinosaur fuel vehicles are becoming more expensive to have repaired every day but the electric car repairs are out of this world, I hear the batteries alone are somewhere in the range of 4K when they will no longer charge. I’ll stick to fossil fuel vehicles as I’m too old to change and to cheap to buy electric.

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    • jaygryph

      The future is likely one of electrics on a lease system where people are far more inclined to trade in for a newer model with a newer battery pack. We here tend to be exceptions, but for most people their vehicle is a nice appliance that they feel no real emotional attachment to, and who can simply trade in and trade up like we do with cell phones. There’s nothing wrong with this for the most part. I love my Galaxie, but I also really like my modern reliable car and it is the one I depend on. It would be foolish not to, and there’s no reason I can’t love both.

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  7. Scotty Scotty Staff

    Ha! Hey, what the?! Nice find, Jeff! You and your wacky EVs.. (kidding)
    If it was a Geo Metro convertible EV I’d be all over it.

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  8. Jamie Jamie Staff

    Ok, dumb question time (consider the source, my Barn Finds friends) — why did they leave the radiator in? Is the electric motor water-cooled???

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    • Sam M

      Jamie,
      It seems the motor is water cooled, so they kept the factory rad to cover the cooling duty.

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  9. Jamie Jamie Staff

    And yes, if this were closer to me I’d be going to look.

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  10. JW454

    Parts from Radio Shack? I doubt it. If you haven’t been in one of their stores lately… All they sell are cell phones, toys, and batteries that last about half the time it takes you to install them. It’s not like to old days when you could go there and buy everything necessary to build your own shortwave radio.

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  11. Rod444

    That Electricar was commercially made and is able to use almost any kind of battery with a software change. You could go back to good ol lead acid golf car batteries and still have a usable, and cheap electric car. Too bad it’s about a million miles from Canada.

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  12. Sam M

    It seems that US Electricar was a joint venture of Hughes aerospace and GM in the ’90s. A lot of top notch engineering and on par with the times other electric offerings. Batteries: (50) lithium units, 5-6000.00 worth. I think that fixed my interest in this one. Interesting car tho.

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  13. 68 custom

    wow these retailed for about 30K when new!

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  14. AMCFAN

    The Geo Prism (Toyota Corolla) was one of the most reliable and fuel efficient cars to ever wear a GM badge. Easily in the 40 mpg range. This is a fantastic buy for someone who has a Prism that was rusted out (only way to kill one) would be to put their gas drive train in it and keep going. For the money where else can you find a brand new Toyota body?

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  15. Dave Wright

    I bought an S10 with a US Electricar conversion from Allan Handcock collage in Santa Maria. They had picked it up surplus from the USN in Pt Hunmee. It was in near perfect condition. The batteries were stored under the bed, the staff mechanics lifted the bed and saw the huge voltage the batteries produced and refused to go near it. I sold it to an electrical engineer in Sacramento. Most of them were returned to the factory and destroyed as they were experimental vehicles not available to the general public. It was super heavy but interesting and I made a few bucks on it.

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  16. Tom Member

    4843 miles. Pretty sure that is second time around or broke at 4843. The carpeting getting in and out of the front doors has 100K on it.

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