Leaf it Alone – 1980 Comutacar and 1981 Jet Industries Electrica

Some old-car nuts are confronted by a serious dilemma. Perhaps you’re one of them. Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re sitting on the couch, thinking about cars, and you think to yourself, I’d really like a car powered by something that’s not so stinky (neatly side-stepping the question of whether the electric power infrastructure is actually cleaner, so pat yourself on the back). But a Nissan Leaf is too boring, a Chevy Spark Electric with it’s ridiculous torque figure is just too new, and the BMW i3 and i8 are too costly/one-percentish/over-designed. Well, here are a couple of choices for you, starting with this 1980 Comutacar for sale for $1500 in Portland, OR.

1980 Comutacar left rear

Red is a less-common color for these, and the wedge styling and awesome striping say late-1970s in a way nothing else can. The giant front bumper is missing, and it’s questionable whether the bargain hubcaps are included, but compared to some others it’s still pretty decent looking. The trailer lights from the local chain auto parts store are the way these always were, which is a shame. But there’s not too much to apologize about, since this is basically a golf cart with a fully enclosed body. Which begs the question, would the local muni golf course turn you away? Because otherwise, this would make a great car for the morning round, if you played golf.

1980 Comutacar interior

Interior also looks in pretty good shape, maybe even like it’s been reupholstered. The car is said to have run when the previous owner started retrofitting lithium ion batteries, and this is one of the unfortunate things about these – many of the available examples are projects, waiting for that one-in-a-million chance to get back on the road. Or, of course, a dramatic rise in oil prices. But, maybe you wanted an electric classic that, you know, looks like a real car. Then you might want to check out this 1981 Jet Industries Electrica, for sale for $1999 in Shelton, WA.

1981 Jet Industries Electrica left front

Whether you’d call a 1981 Escort a real car is a discussion for another day, but Ford made millions of them, so quite a few parts should be available, though attrition has claimed many of these. It’s said to be in very good condition, though the interior seems to be suffering from mold or general dirtiness. It’s only done 36,000 miles, so worst case, you have an Escort shell to stuff in the powertrain of your choice. And that’s because the seller states he doesn’t have the time to follow through on his plans to update the powertrain. Maybe there’s a budget racing opportunity here, or you can take advantage of the fourth-level LinkedIn connection you have to that guy who works for Tesla. It might not be safe or sane, but what classic car endeavor is?

1981 Jet Industries Electrica interior

And here’s the mold. Outside of that, the interior actually looks pretty amazing, if cheap. While converting to Tesla power is probably ridiculous, what about finding a crashed Prius or Insight? Toyota and Honda have sold thousands of those, and they weren’t as premium, or as powerful, so acquisition and use of that drivetrain is a more realistic prospect. On second thought, maybe the Leaf is a better idea if you’re hell-bent on going electric – what would you do?

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4 Responses to “Leaf it Alone – 1980 Comutacar and 1981 Jet Industries Electrica”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    there’s a moldy lime green Zapcar a few blocks from here in someone’s side yard. I never felt compelled to ask anyone about it. I remember seeing a few of these around my hometown in the 70’s and early 80’s (I think they were built in Auburndale Fla., very near where I grew up) and they were less then impressive in person, but $1500 is about what a used golfcart sells for I guess the price makes sense.

  2. Greg Tuntland Says:

    I have a Jet with 6,000 miles on it.
    30 mi range new Batts, 10 mi normal condition.
    35 mph tools, 10 mph, normally
    The battery bank was replaced 3 times under warranty.
    When it started out costing me, I stopped.
    I, and the battery supplier didn’t know about Sulfation.
    It would break down on the street, I would have to get out and push it to the side of the road.
    I would have to wait 30 minutes to have the electricity reassociate to drive it home to recharge it, 6-10 hours.
    I would like Lithiums. I would expect 45 mph, 50-100 mi range.
    $35,000 is what they wanted for Batts. A Leaf is Cheaper.
    $6-8,000 is my range.
    I thought I’d have to go to the Chinese.
    $1,000 would get me a 3-4 mi safe range, staying within the 20% discharge range.
    Without BMS, You Got No Chance!
    You have to monitor each battery.
    The end ones go first.
    The sulfated ones charge backwards.
    Yeah, I got a 35 year old EV.
    Greg

  3. Greg Tuntland Says:

    I have a Jet Electra, with 6,000 miles on it.
    30 mi range, new Batts, 10 mi normal condition.
    35 mph new Batts, 10 mph, normally
    The battery bank was replaced 3 times, under 30 month warranty.
    When it started out costing me, I stopped.
    I, and the battery supplier didn’t know about Sulfation.
    It would break down on the street, I would have to get out and push it to the side of the road.
    I would have to wait 30 minutes to have the electricity reassociate to drive it home to recharge it, 6-10 hours.
    I would like Lithiums. I would expect 45 mph, 50-100 mi range.
    $35,000 is what they wanted for Batts. A Leaf is Cheaper.
    $6-8,000 is my range.
    I thought I’d have to go to the Chinese.
    $1,000 would get me a 3-4 mi safe range, staying within the 20% discharge range, using lead acids.
    Without BMS, You Got No Chance!
    You have to monitor each battery.
    The end ones go first.
    The sulfated ones charge backwards.
    Yeah, I got a 35 year old EV.
    Greg

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