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Neil Young’s LincVolt - an Electric 1959 Lincoln Continental

published, Nov 14, 2008 8:32am
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Posted on November 13th, 2008 by Aaron Turpen

Fact is, the car you have today is far more energy effficient than the car you buy tomorrow.  Why?  Well, the energy needed to make the new car really needs to be taken into consideration. 

Apart from all that, Neil Young, the geezer-rock specialist, has put together a team to build a car that can get 100mpg and travel in style. The basis is a 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV convertible.

LincVolt Electric Car

Yep, a classic Lincoln becomes the framework for a radical re-think in hybrid design technology. Young says he wanted to do it with a real car, not some plastic pile of junk, and to do it in style. So he chose his favorite: the 1959 Lincoln. The car’s build and tinker phase was only five short months and it is now on the road, cruising America.

The backbone of the car is a 150kW motor, a bank of lithium-ion batteries, and a small generator capable of running on cooking grease, biodiesel, vegetable oil, kerosene, or any combination of these. “It will even run on unleaded if you really want to,” Young laughs.

According to the project’s website, on which you can view the car’s current activity (power levels, whether the generator is running, speed, altitude, and more), the Linc Volt outperforms the Chevy Volt and the Chrysler series hybrids in miles per gallon and delivers more power than all of them too.

LincVolt Electric Car

The car’s chief designer is the car conversion legend Johnathan Goodwin of H-Line Conversions. In an interview, Goodwin says the greatest challenge was the five thousand pound weight of the car and making it move without a lot of power waste or a sluggish feel. He also wanted to make it perform well enough that it would be an entrant into the Progressive Automotive X-Prize competition.

Neil Young wanted a classic car that gets 100mpg and drives like a smooth dream. He also wanted it to be primarily electric, but to have a very long range, which meant a fuel source. That fuel source, he insisted, could not be gasoline and ideally would be a multitude of readily-available fuels.

Both men came together and have achieved their wishes. The Linc Volt is currently running on the afore-mentioned electric motor and a temporary compressed natural gas (CNG) engine while the new generator is tweaked and perfected in Australia. After multiple hangups, a few false-starts, and a lot of work, the team Young and Goodwin put together now has a working model.

“I consider this to be the prototype, running Generator 3.0,” Young says proudly in a YouTube video. “The new generator will be version 4.0 and by 4.5, we should have it perfect.”

LincVolt Electric Car

The Linc Volt website also points out, in its blog, that the car was designed and built without any government subsidies. Unlike the $25 billion the American car industry has received as a so-called “starter package” to retool and get on board with the non-petrol revolution taking place today.

A movie about the transformation of the classic Lincoln to the new and improved Linc Volt is underway, having filmed during planning and construction. Young hopes to release that next year.

The price tag for this conversion? Not including the car’s value, it’s run about $40,000. Of course, it’s the first one done, so once mass production of the engine, parts, and so forth are factored in, the price would drop quickly.

Got a classic in your garage? How about an old ruster out in the south field? It could be tomorrow’s electric roadster.

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