Jonny Smith is planning a new assault on the electric car records books.
The presenter and motoring journalist has attracted considerable attention with the Flux Capacitor, his record-breaking 1974 Enfield 8000 electric city car, which smashed speed records for a street-legal electric vehicle thanks to an upgraded powertrain with the equivalent of 800bhp and 1200lb ft.
But now Jonny is thinking bigger, and wants to build a larger, faster electric or hybrid car with the backing of a manufacturer. After becoming something of an evangelist for electric cars as performance vehicles, he wants to move the game on, and is dreaming of a road-legal car that could record a 7.0sec quarter mile and still be exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
“There is a temptation to build something new,” he said. “I took on the Flux Capacitor as an experimental project to see how it would be perceived and how much fun it would be as a driver’s car, and it’s got me hook, line and sinker.
“It’s made so many performance road cars quite disappointing to drive now, in terms of torque delivery and that instant grunt. Going back to traditional cars is probably out of the question for my next project, but it’ll be something performance focused.
“If I did another drag car I’d love to work with a manufacturer, as there are now more with electric products than when I started the Flux Capacitor in 2012. I’d love to build a really, really fast electric or hybrid drag car based on something else, but it would have to be bigger and longer than the Enfield.”
Jonny missed out on breaking his own world record with the Flux Capacitor at Santa Pod in Northamptonshire last weekend, due to adverse weather conditions and technical problems. However, he still holds the record of 9.86sec at 121mph over the quarter mile, set in July. By his own admission, though, the little Enfield has now been pushed as hard as possible.
“I think we’ll have another crack at it, we might have one more chance by the end of the year,” he said. “But I built the car to do a 12.5sec quarter mile, to beat a Tesla roadster. I never in a million years thought it would break into the nines. In terms of performance, the car in its current state has reached its maximum potential.
“I still like piston cars and I’m not going to sell my Dodge Charger, but we are in a very exciting place, where Formula E is charging on and electric car sales are quadrupling each year. Tesla is a massive halo and young school kids don’t see a silent fast car as being uncool, it just happens to not make a noise.
“Seeing the PR that the Flux Capacitor has got, I would like to think that it would be easier to get a new project off the ground. The first ones are always way harder, and this one has become way more infamous than I thought it would.”