Tesla Alternative: 1981 Ford Escort Electrica EV

Ok, there’s no jet engine in this 1981 Ford Escort Electrica, but Jet Industries out of Austin, Texas converted engineless vehicles to battery power and one such beast was the Ford Escort Jet Electrica. This rare example can be found here on eBay with a current bid of just over a hundred bucks but the reserve isn’t met yet. There is a $1,200 buy it now price which I would normally have hit by now, but, well, it’s a long story. This car is located in beautiful Shelton, Washington.

To explain things a bit, I sort of painfully and mentally promised our own Jamie Palmer, truly one of the nicest humans to ever walk the planet and a great friend, that I would deal with my 1988 Subaru GL EV that he’s been storing for me for well over two years now before buying any more battery-powered vehicles. He’s had to take up space in his shop for this dang Subaru, that most likely not many of you remember, but I ended up buying it – as seen in this Barn Finds post from 2016. As the typical car lover and collector, my eyes are bigger than my stomach and/or than my storage space or spaces. I have several and they’re all full, and I’ve been taking up a spot in Jamie’s very impressive and huge shop building for two years now. So, where I would normally have jumped on this car by now, I really should quit hoarding vehicles and begin the healing process… (is there a cure?)

We have seen the Escort/Jet Industries Electrica before, I have written about them a couple of times here at least and they’re really interesting if a person doesn’t have an instant mental block against something that doesn’t run on oil-based fuels. For the record, most of our power comes from solar so not everyone burns coal when they charge batteries, but I give a nod that a few million people do. But not all. Some do. But not all. But, then again a lot do, just not all. Just some. Not all, though. Where were we? Yes, the Electrica. This is by far the nicest one that I have seen and dang it, Jamie, it’s only $1,200!

Jet Industries also made EV conversions with the Mercury Lynx and best of all, the Subaru Sambar van – the ElectaVan. This car looks almost perfect to me from looking at the photos, other than what looks like mildew on the interior which is scary. It’s damp, to say the least, in that area of Washington state. The Shelton, WA area gets over five-feet of rain a year.

Here’s why this car is only $1,200, there are no batteries and there is no motor to make this car go-go. The seller says that “The original Prestolite MTC 4001 Series Wound DC 20 HP and (16) volt batteries have been removed to update with contemporary motor and batteries and controller.” That’s why it’s only $1,200! Now it makes sense. Still, other than what appears to be some rust on the underside of the hood, I don’t see any glaring issues other than, well, not having any drivetrain what so ever. The prospect of adding a few thousand dollars to this car is why I haven’t clicked the buy-it-now button yet. That, and my promise to Jamie.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bakyrdhero

    My mother’s 85 Escort had a four banger with sixty something hp and it was scary slow. I wonder how this thing goes down the road?

    Like 3
    • L D Albin

      My Electrica does 65 mph easily. I dropped 37 180 amphr CALB lithiums in it five yrs ago and have put~14,000 miles on the original 6,000 it had when I bought it. I DESPERATELY NEED some specs on the Prestolite motor because the brushes finally gave out (it ran a bit hot coming up hills) because I want to replace the motor w/ something current but shaft size/style on the motor would be nice to know to match it up best.
      I could pull the motor to see, but have to pull all the batteries to get to it and would rather have new motor ready to drop in. I have to rent shop space for the motor replacement.
      I would pay for specs on the motor!
      L D June 2022

      Like 0
  2. Blueprint

    Scotty, with the high depreciation rate of EV’s in the US, sell the Subie and get yourself a Focus Electric. The are a hoot to drive with their instant torque, and while range is limited it’s more than 20 miles ;)

    Like 1
  3. Pat LMember

    I don’t know Scotty, maybe it is time to change that crankshaft and pistons in your signature to an electric ⚡️ motor!

    Like 3
  4. larry

    I had the Mercury Lynx version of this back in the mid 80s. Absolutely silent so you could easily sneak up on people walking in the street. Forgot to set the emergency brake once when I went shopping and returned to find it safely parked across the street from where I had left it. Not a scratch.

    Like 3
  5. Kenneth Carney

    This would be great for running errands
    around town or using it after a hurricane
    knocks out power. Oh sure, you’d have
    to have solar power to recharge it but at
    least you won’t be sitting in line waiting
    to pay $8-$10 bucks a gallon like some
    folks were doing after Irma came through
    in ’17. Too big for what I’d need though.
    Given my vision problem, I’d do better
    with an LSV instead.

    Like 0
  6. Todd Priest

    I earned how to drive a stick in one of these but it had an ICE.

    Like 0
  7. PDXBryan

    So cool that you’re confident enough of your masculinity to talk about EVs on a motor head site!
    I have relatives in Shelton. If this were a RWD car I’d be tempted to buy it and have John Wayland help me get it going again. Unfortunately this is not my favorite kind of Escort.

    Like 1
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      Ha, thanks, PDXBryan! I think..
      I literally could not be more confident in that than I am. Life is too short to give a damn what anyone else thinks about a vehicle that you like. I mean, it would be great if a few others would like them, but if they don’t that’s 100% a-ok. Just so they don’t cut them down as not being worthy because they personally don’t think they are, that’s when things go out the window for me.

      Like 0
  8. belinda

    I saw a number of these up for sale @ the dod/drmo sales in the early 90s in the S.F. bay area. Sort of view them as an all weather golf cart. The other thought about them was, “gee I wounder if you could fit the electrics to an EXP”

    Like 0

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