Pioneering mid-century electric car.
This ultra-rare 1960 Henney Kilowatt is the perfect restomod EV candidate
If you’re looking for an exciting vintage EV project, look no further than this French-influenced American wonder from 1960. This particular car is a no reserve eBay find advertised as serial number 0001, coming to you via to good folks at Barn Finds. Currently bidding at $2150, it’s the perfect candidate for a modern EV conversion, whether by the hands of Jonathan Ward’s Icon team as a “Derelict”, Jay Leno’s Garage as something vastly more streetable, or your handy uncle Freddy as a fun weekend project. But what even is a Henney Kilowatt?
While Detroit Electric may have built more electric cars in the early 20th century, in 1959, the National Union Electric Company approached the concept from an all-new angle. At the time, the conglomerate owned both the Henney Motor Company and vacuum cleaner maker Eureka Williams Co. in Illinois, while technical support for this car came from California’s Caltech, from a team led by pioneering electric car engineer Victor Wouk.
Henney purchased body and chassis tooling from Renault, only for the National Union Electric Company to end up with an electrified Renault Dauphine. In 1959, power came from a 36-volt system provided by eighteen 2-volt batteries, but since that just wasn’t enough, Eureka was quick to upgrade to a 72-volt system using twelve 6-volt batteries for 1960. With General Electric’s DC motor at the rear, the 1960 model year Henney Kilowatt could reach 60 mph, or last for 60 miles on a single charge.
Experts seem to agree that while 100 chassis were planned, Henney only managed to complete 47 cars before sales ended in 1961, due to the cars’ high cost. Company records show that there were 24 cars sold to electric utilities as 36-volt 1959 models, and eight Kilowatts sold to utility companies as 72-volt 1960 models.
With fewer than 15 of these cars sold to the general public, there are only a few survivors out there today. The first car had “Experimental” stamped in as its serial number, followed by what is believed to be #0001 in 1959.
The car in question here, #1170001 seems to be 1960’s first Henney Kilowatt, evidenced by its 72-volt electric system. Ran when parked but totally complete, it’s a car begging for a powertrain upgrade in 2020, and something you’ll always be able to fix using Renault Dauphine stocks. With just three days remaining, find it here on eBay, and get creative!
[UPDATE]: Final sale for the Kilowatt was $7151.00, according to the listing.