Gullwing EV: 1977 Urba Electric For $1,450

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This zippy-looking little thing is a 1977 Urba Electric, a battery-powered “urban electric car” that was sold in kit form in the mid-late-1970s. This interesting little project can be found here on Craigslist in a parking lot filled with similarly-unusual microcars. It’s located in Geneva, Ohio and the seller is asking what seems like a reasonable $1,450. Thanks to Roger for submitting this tip!

The opening photo looked sort of cool, didn’t it? Like it may have been a 280Z or modified Corvette or something? Well, this is what it looks like from the side. It’s not quite as sleek as either of those cars, but they were cool, in my opinion. Here is what they looked like in real life, as in not sitting in a dealer’s back lot in non-usable condition. They were sold in magazines such as Mechanix Illustrated and the kits would arrive and you’d spend a few weekends putting them together, easy stuff, eh? For any of you who have tried to put together your kids’ toys on Christmas morning, yeah, it’s never as easy as it seems.

I have such a passion for little EVs like this, but I really wanted the super rare Elcar Zagato that is shown in a couple of the photos in this listing. Parts are unbelievably hard to find for those cars and the one that they had for sale needed a lot, so I ended up not getting yet another project. But, this Urba looks like a doable project. I’m not sure if the windows or motor cover are there and they don’t say in the listing what is included. I guess almost anything could be fabricated by a do-it-yourselfer but original parts would be the way to go. It’s pretty neat, no? I like it but I like my vehicles on the oddball side. Wedge-shaped? Even better.

Those seats look plush.. wait, they’re just shells. This car was most likely never finished, although when we get to the “engine/motor” photo it looks pretty complete and almost ready to go. Here is a photo that shows just how small this Urba Electric is. But, small is cool, at least when a 2017 Tahoe isn’t barrelling down on you at a stop light. The side view shows how the top works and it looks like there may actually be adequate legroom inside for folks over 6-feet tall. Where do the batteries go, Scotty G? Well, it’s funny you should ask, they go here.

20,000 people bought plans to build an Urba Electric, I wonder how many of those actually finished it? 2,000? 200? 2? I wrote about a 1975 UrbaCar here on Barn Finds about a year and a half ago but that was gas-powered and it looked maybe a bit cooler, or I think it did. This EV Urba Electric is a bit more subdued. Believe it or not, the Urba Electic has regenerative braking and an “electronic drive transmission, sort of a precursor to the CVT transmission. I know, 40 years ago, that’s pretty amazing. I mean, amazing as far as technology goes, I’m guessing that there are many Barn Finds readers who long for a car with a CVT in it. The Urba Electic was supposed to go up to 60 MPH and have a 60-mile range, that’s good stuff for that era and it’s not horrible now. Not many of us drive more than 50-60 miles roundtrip to our jobs. Have any of you heard of an Urba Electric?

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  1. Bob

    I wonder what the range would be with today’s Tesla batteries in it.

    Like 1
  2. Al

    about 3.27894 miles. Just over 3 ¼ miles.

    Like 8
  3. Mark

    Has that little 3 cylinder Honda rims on it. Would it also have the chassis ?

    Like 1
    • Blyndgesser

      The chassis plans called for 1.5 inch welded square tubing which the builder was supposed to source from a local supplier. The body was built up from flat sheets of foam (polyurethane? polystyrene?) over which you are supposed to lay fiberglass. Definitely more involved than, say, a Bradley GT or a Kelmark.

      Like 2
  4. Ike Onick

    More folks would rather have the Crab Shack delivery buggy

    Like 3
  5. rustylink

    looks like he’s got a King Midget parked beside -Pretty rare car.

    Like 3
  6. Rovinman

    I think he took his cues from the (Reliant) Bond Bug 1970-74, but on this one he managed to put ALL four wheels on it !
    I think it would be better to convert the Bond Bug to electric (and also 4 wheels)

    Like 1
  7. Kenneth Carney

    I like it!! When you get it finished, don’t
    drive it down your main drag though,
    you may wind up getting squashed like
    a grape. Wonder if I can get batteries
    for it at my local Batteries Plus store
    here in Winter Haven? Would be a great
    way to get around town after a hurricane
    provided you have solar panels to charge
    it up between trips. Finding gas is a really big problem if the power has been
    knocked out and your Arab owned
    conveniance store is charging up to $12
    to $15 a gallon for regular if they have
    power to pump it. Other than that, just
    right for trips around town. Would really
    like to have it!

    Like 3
    • George

      Standard lead acid batteries power it.

      Like 1
  8. George

    The CVT was around long before the UrbaElectric and definitely before today’s cars. They have always been found on snow mobiles, and in fact many low volume and homebuilt cars were running transmissions sourced from them. The unique feature here was the electronic controller added to the CVT to optimize driving.

    Don’t forget that DAF had CVT transmissions starting in 1958.

    Let’s head out for this and some batteries out of a prius or tesla (and a reworked frame and suspension to manage greater performance as these were designed for a top speed of 60 mph.)

    Like 2
  9. JMG

    Looking at the photos and his other items… he attended the same auction in NW Ohio I did last year (in fact it looks like the listing photos from that auction… lol). Guessing he bought some stuff that he later had second thoughts on. This little guy was really rough. But for the price, you could make something from it…

    Like 1
  10. JoeT

    IIRC Mechanics Illustrated had a story back in the late 70s early 80s for a similar looking car although slightly larger that was built on a Triumph Spitfire chassis and powered by a Kubota diesel engine. With the Spitfire overdrive transmission is was said to be capable of getting over 100MPG, hence the Urba Centurion name.

    Like 1
  11. Healeymonster

    This reminds me of a ad in Mad Magazine around the same era. The ad was a kit to build a replica of the USS Constitution. Inside the box was a block of wood and a carving knife with the instructions ” Simply carve away anything that does not look like the picture on the cover” Brilliant!

    Like 3
  12. Electro-man the Avenger!

    I’d restore it and use it as a golf cart around my community. No way I’d go out on the street with it!

    Like 1
  13. Wayne

    Even though I have an electric car fan ever since I got to drive a 1973 Honda Civic that had been electrified. I have been an electric car fan. That being said, this looks to me as a perfect basis for a Smart Car drivetrain.

    Like 1
  14. Wayne

    Even though I have been an electric car fan ever since I got to drive a 1973 Honda Civic that had been electrified about 37 years ago. That being said, this looks to me as a perfect basis for a Smart Car drivetrain.

    Like 1
  15. rod444

    It IS amazingly small, but I gotta admit, replacing only 8 six volt batteries seems a lot more reasonable dollar-wise than the lithium packs in the new EVs. Just wait for a sale at Costco :)

    Like 2
  16. Bryan W Cohn

    Why is this calling to me??? Why??? Why………..

    Like 1
  17. Sterling Coleman

    I have built and regularly drive one of these Urba’s. To my knowledge it was never available as a kit. Mine is titled in the state of Ohio as a 2011; a process that was almost as involved as building the car. I am using it as a daily driver. I currently have a direct drive setup with a 47 HP Curtis induction motor and a 650 AMP Curtis controller. I am using 8 6-volt Interstate golf cart batteries. Top speed is around 50 and the pickup is quite good. This car attracts all kinds of attention. It has been front page in several newspapers and I have been quoted twice in Time Magazine. I allow extra time to go anywhere because of the attention.

    Like 3
    • John Giem

      I’ve never seen a kit for this either. MI had plans for sale, that I believe are still available from R Q Riley.

      Like 0

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