1-of-75: 1982 Unique Mobility Electrek

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Variety is the spice of life, and here at Barn Finds we certainly do provide a wide variety of different vehicles. Barn Finder Ikey H seems to have a keen eye for the unusual and interesting vehicles, and he spotted this particular one for us to look at. Thank you so much for that Ikey. This 1982 Unique Mobility Electrek was a ground-breaking vehicle when new, and you can add a truly interesting vehicle to your garage for $10,000. The Electrek is located in Ft Lupton, Colorado, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist.

The styling of the Electrek is certainly distinctive. I guess that there was no point in producing an innovative vehicle if it just blended into the background, so the designers did their best to ensure that this didn’t happen. The car features a steel frame which is adorned with a fiberglass and polycarbonate body. This one looks like it is in good condition but would benefit from a good clean and polish. The side window styling is the most controversial aspect of the design, and it does make the car look like it’s sagging in the middle. Apart from that, the styling isn’t too bad, and probably even seemed a bit futuristic when the vehicle was new.

This is as close as we get to a photo of the interior, and it reinforces my belief that the vehicle needs a good clean. The interior design is a 2+2, but while the front bucket seats are relatively large and comfortable, the rear seats are quite small and are best used by children. That large box section just below the gear shifter is actually a tunnel that runs through the vehicle from the firewall at the front through to what would be the trunk lid. This housed the original lead/acid batteries in a slide-out tray, which was actually quite a clever way of providing the optimum weight distribution within the vehicle.

This is the rear end of the tunnel that I was referring to. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the engine, but the design makes interesting reading. When new, the vehicle was powered by a bank of 16 x 6-volt lead/acid batteries, feeding a 32hp General Electric motor. Power was then fed to the front wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. While I haven’t been able to confirm it, information that I have been able to locate seems to indicate that the transmission and suspension were actually sourced from a VW Rabbit diesel. One aspect that made this car so ground-breaking when new was the fact that it was one of the first commercially available electric vehicles to feature regenerative braking. The Electrek was capable of a top speed of 75mph and had a charge range of around 100 miles when driven at 30mph. This particular car has undergone some upgrades, and now is powered by Lithium batteries, with an Orion battery management system. The Electrek can be charged from a normal mains power outlet, and it appears that these upgrades have improved the performance and range of the vehicle. The Lithium batteries would also provide a significant weight advantage over the original lead/acid units.

The owner says that this little Electrek is 1-of-75 vehicles built by UQM Technologies, but this number may be inflated, as I have seen various estimates of between 50 and 60 vehicles. Production certainly proceeded to the stage where the vehicle underwent formal crash testing, and video of this shows that the vehicle stood up very well in this area. This particular example appears to be in overall good condition, and really seems to only need a decent clean and detail for it to look its best. It isn’t a highway cruiser by any stretch of the imagination, but as a suburban runabout, it is probably an ideal vehicle. This Electrek is just waiting for someone to see how well it functions in that environment, and to see how many people become fascinated by it wherever they go.

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  1. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Another great find, Ikey, and another great write-up, Adam! This thing is right up my alley, interest-wise.

    Like 6
  2. Capriest

    So a gremlin and a merkur xr4ti couple invited a prius into the bedroom?

    Like 21
    • David

      I was thinking more Bradley GT and GT2 with a dash of Renault LeCar.

      Like 6
    • Marko

      I was thinking an AMC Pacer / Bradley GT fusion, myself.

      Like 4
  3. ChebbyMember

    Whoo, the styling looks like a tree fell on it. Even uglier than the Ford EXP it kinda looks like.

    Like 6
  4. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Shape designed by a fourth grade car club.
    As awkward and ungainly in appearance as anything I’ve seen.

    Scotty, you have a weird taste in cars. That’s OK, you probably already knew it, and no offense meant, just advising that I can detect it about you too. ;-)

    Like 7
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      Ha, you’re as right as rain, DayDreamBeliever! I do have a decidedly oddball taste in vehicles for the most part. I would go for both a CityCar and a Ford Escort Electrica for the price of this one, but it’s so unusual that it’s interesting to me. On the other end of the spectrum, I think that the most beautiful car ever made is a close race between a Lamborghini Miura and a Jaguar E-Type convertible.

      Like 7
  5. Kenneth Carney

    I’m really charged up about seeing this car. It would be perfect to drive to
    church on Sundays snd all other ’round
    the town errands. I like the oddballs
    too. Guess I’m just wired that way.

    Like 6
  6. Vegaman Dan

    Alright, who put a Pacer in the microwave too long?

    Like 13
  7. grant

    Truth be told it’s an ugly duckling, but I enjoy seeing the progression of the technology compared to modern electrics. And the shifter up on the dash like an old Alfa is just cool.

    Like 3
  8. Chuck Simons

    Who stepped on it and inflated it again. I got it the clown from IT is looking for his car.

    Like 0
  9. Bodyman68

    Interesting car never heard of it nor ever seen one . Too bad not enough pics .

    Like 0
  10. Todd Green

    I have a 1982 Blue Electrek I bought off Craigslist last fall. a real attention getter!

    Like 3
  11. Scirocco333

    My father got 3 of these for the City of Huntsville, AL as a possible way to get through future gas spikes. I barely fit in the back b/c the tunnel was so huge. They had t-sorts printed with “The Electric Adventure” emblazoned on them. I dunno what happened to the Huntsville cars.

    Like 0
    • Declan Kavanaugh

      This is a long stretch from 2 years later, I’ve been looking for any information on these cars. I’ve recently gotten one and have been trying to document/discover any of the cars that may still exist. If you see this, please email me. Kavadeclan@gmail.com

      Like 0

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