Electric Quasi-Camino: 1980 Datsun 310 Lektrikar II

Colin Chapman’s motto for car performance was; “simplify and then add diamond plate.” No. Wait. That wasn’t Chapman. That was a young Elon Musk — he was building his first electric car, a canvas backed quasi-camino and he needed a lightweight, space-age material to use for the front valence, rear bumper, bed liner, seat cover, and tail light surround…and he thought “I can’t afford anything light, so I’ll hack the roof off, add 2 tons of lead-acid batteries and use diamond plate wherever I can“. Diamond Plate Motors was a total failure, but he joined the guys at Tesla Motors when they were converting lightweight Lotus Elises to electric and the rest is history. Find this 1980 Datsun 310 offered for $1500 in Santa Cruz, CA via craigslist.

From the seller:

1980 Datsun Lektrikar II
condition: fair
cylinders: other
drive: fwd
fuel: electric
odometer: 20000
paint color: red
size: compact
title status: clean
transmission: manual
type: other

1980 Datsun 310 Lektrikar II, it was a 4 door hatchback, its been restomoded to a 2 door UTE. It is a fully functioning/ driving/ licensed/ insured vehicle. it still has 4 seats but you have to “dukes of hazzard” to get into the back seats. its powered by 108 volts DC to a Prestolight 7.2 Brushed DC motor (22 electric HP) hooked up to the standard 4 speed manual transmission. it is capable of going freeway speeds and is a great around town car, it has a tight turning radius and fits into any parking spot.. it has a built in charger that plugs into a standard 120v 15A outlet. the range in its current configuration ((9) 12v batteries) is around 25 miles, of course you can increase the range directly related to the amount you want to spend on batteries. the current batteries will need to be replaced sooner that later.

the canvas roof is easy to install and remove and there is also a lumber rack that is also removable. the US government bought 1200 from Nissan with nothing that related to a combustion engine. It was then given to Electra Motors of Las Vegas to be converted. they were then sold to power companies and other municipalities as part of the 1976 Clean Air Act. Part of the way thru production GM got 51% of the company and had it shut down. most of the records were lost so no one really knows how many were completed. I have only see one other photo of one and I have owned to car for 13 years.

See a better way to drive something from the future? A bleak and dystopian Mad Max future…but the future is the future. tips@dailyturismo.com