Most of the fun and wacky electric vehicles I discover while wasting time perusing the infinite abyss of creativity that is the Alibaba shopping site are of the ultra-modern variety. But every now and again, something that is decidedly vintage catches my eye, as was the case with this funny little electric car that appears to be heavily inspired by the original Ford Model T. And fortunately for whatever random factory seems to be hawking this hot mess, it tickled my fancy enough to land it a coveted spot as the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week!
This isn’t exactly the first vintage-styled electric car to hand-crank my starter.
I’ve stumbled upon other hidden EV gems such as a distinctly debonair British roadster and a quaint electric horseless carriage fit for Cinderella herself.
But none of those would have one of America’s most celebrated bigots, Henry Ford, rolling over in his grave more than this awesome little electric Model T knockoff.
It might not have the same giant wagon wheels or leak as much (or any) oil as the original, but damn if it doesn’t have charm in spades.
Chugging along at its top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph), it’s only about half as fast as the original. It’s also rocking a third of the original’s motor power, with just a modest 5 kW electric motor on its rear axle.
So horsepower for horsepower, I’ll chalk that up as a win for the Chinese version here.
It doesn’t quite match the original Model T’s range, as the imitation T only packs a 7.2 kWh battery that is sufficient for a claimed 100 km (62 mi) per charge. The good news is that it will do those miles without vibrating and shaking its occupants until the contents of their change purse are lost in the upholstery.
Those batteries are also lead acid instead of lithium-ion, which I can only assume is a throwback to the former car’s era. The original Model T debuted just over a century ago, and that lead acid battery technology is definitely period correct.
But even though this knockoff doesn’t exactly excite the senses with its power, speed or range, it makes up for it with class.
Check out that gold-plated (or more likely gold-painted) trim and classy convertible top. And take a gander at those big ol’ headlamps from back when the glass protected an actual oil flame. It even has the old-school folding windshield and a spare tire. You probably wouldn’t even need a jack to change a tire — just grab a fender and lift up one corner of the car.
I also love that slick-looking wooden dashboard and giant steering wheel, which comes complete with power steering. This thing actually looks pretty darn well outfitted. I can’t speak to the quality, of course. That sheet metal might be thinner than paper, for all we know. But it definitely looks the part!
Surely these things are meant for novelty purposes, like rental rides in the park or birthday parties. But that’s not how I’d use one.
Imagine the looks you’d get driving this car to the coffee shop — or picking up a few gallons of paint at Home Depot.
Anyone with money can have a fancy Ferrari or a lifted truck. Driving one of these bad boys around town takes a certain amount of spunk and a distinct lack of giving a flying flip what others think.
And as the sales page on Alibaba tells me, it also takes $6,300 smackeroonies. Fortunately, the vendor only requires a minimum order of quantity of one unit.
Booking a $20,000 shipping container, though, that’s going to be the trickier part…
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