Upgraded Technology: 1980 Lectric Leopard

EVs aren’t quite “all the rage” as some folks think they are with just a tiny percentage of sales going to battery-powered vehicles. Conversion companies have come and gone over the decades and some of them produced some pretty interesting vehicles, such as this 1980 Lectric Leopard. This Franco-American car is listed on eBay with a $6,250 or offer and it’s located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

U.S. Electracar Corporation¬†was based in Massachusetts and they imported cars without drivetrains, known as gliders, and converted them to battery power. A company in Austin, TX called Jet Industries did the same thing in the 1970s but instead of Renaults they used Subarus, and specifically the Subaru Sambar van. I haven’t seen one of those for sale for a couple of years now but I would jump on one like (insert un-pc phrase here)..

My dad had a LeCar as a company car, believe it or not, when they first came to the U.S. after a succession of Impalas and then Pintos. I know. It was a super fun car to drive for a 16-year old kid who had just gotten his license and it sure turned heads. If the Lectric Leopard would have been available it would have been a much better car since it was just used locally and could have been charged overnight when he got home.

Typically the Lectric Leopards didn’t come with a radio or AC or anything like that to save weight and extend battery life. This looks like a really nice one, especially for Wisconsin. And I only say that knowing the rust issues that we have here in the upper-Midwest. The seller says that it has “13,600 miles. All lights and accessories function except horn.” This was originally a promotional vehicle for an Iowa utility, according to the the seller.

One reason why this example may be priced higher, quite a bit higher, than others that have come up for sale recently is that in “2009, it was upgraded with all new electronics and 144 volts worth of gel-cell batteries. Its powerful! Charges fully in 6 hours.” I would have expected the range to also go up since it would have originally been a 48-volt system, but they say that they only get 15 miles out of the “fun mode”. That isn’t going to work for the vast majority of people unless they travel 5 miles each way and want a 5-mile buffer zone, I expected a 40-mile range which is doable for most people. Lithium is the way to go but it’s not a cheap conversion. Have any of you heard of a Lectric Leopard?

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  1. OA5599

    Only a 15 mile range? Shocking.

    • 71FXSuperGlide

      What was the original range on one of these things? 15 miles is abysmal.

  2. kam1271

    This car was for sale in the Madison, WI area back in April. It needed new batteries then, but was drivable for short distances. Sounds like this guy picked it up (cheap) and is attempting to make a tidy profit (without fixing the range issue).

  3. rustylink

    Lectric (Ret)ard

  4. Martin

    The batteries are only half the equation. If you upgrade them, you need a controller that will handle the amperage and also a higher horsepower electric motor. People forget about this and only look at the batteries. So this thing will have a battery system that is more reliable and does not need regular watering but the performance cannot really be different from the original setup.

  5. XMA0891

    Novelties then; novelties now… I owned an “internal combustion” version of this car and look back on my ownership fondly.
    Give me internal combustion then, give it to me now. No matter what “The Market” says it is “determining” with regards to EV’s; with existing technologies, batteries just aren’t ever going to do it.

  6. mark

    It needs a trip to the car crusher to be improved.

  7. Kenneth Carney

    @XMAO891: I agree with you whole-
    heartedly in regard to the battery life
    and driving range of electric cars, but I
    still see some use for them as runabouts
    here in Florida after a hurricane knocks
    out the power and no gas can be found.
    After Irma, some foreign owned gas
    stations were charging as much as $15
    a gallon for regular gas once it became
    available again. This little gem, on the
    other hand, could be charged using solar
    power when conventional power sources
    aren’t working. Granted, you would need
    at least 10 panels to provide you with enough juice (250 volts) to charge the
    car with 100 odd volts to spare for charging other small things like E-bikes,
    power chairs, and electronics like laptops,
    cellphones, and E-cigs. One of these
    Leopards coild get you where you need
    to go when times get tough. I’m in the
    last stages of planning to build a solar
    charging station in Mom’s back yard.
    Since I don’t yet have an EV to run, I’ll
    use it to charge Mom’s wheelchairs
    along with other things needing charged.
    And while I’m not a treehugger, the concept is indeed a practical one. And
    man, I dig that chevkerboard carpeting!

  8. Fred Seelig

    If this has no gasoline engine, why does it have a stick shift?

  9. Chuckster

    And you thought getting rear-ended in a Pinto was bad.

  10. Eddie

    …sigh… a newer Fiat 500e can be had on ebay for the same price as this POS.

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