EVs are commonplace these days. Hell, Tesla is one of the highest valued automakers in the world. But back in the 90s, this was very much not the case. The concept was definitely afoot, and some actual cars were made, but GM very famously killed the EV and hunted down nearly every example they made and sent them to the crusher. The GM EV1 was a practical production model that a few examples were made. Other than very few, they were all destroyed, but one was recently found hidden under another college campus building.
The GM EV1 is a rare car, indeed
The Drive was tipped off to this very rare example of the EV1 in hiding. These cars are now things of legend, not only because of the barriers it broke through but also because of the intentional destruction of these cars. The Drive notes that GM leased some of these cars out to customers for a few years and in 2003 recalled the proto EV all and the units destroyed.
Thankfully, a few examples remained uncrushed and were squirreled away. Of the few that survived, most were locked away in museums away from GM’s grasping claws. But this one was recently found tucked in the basement of some unknown college somewhere in the US.
How did this EV1 get there?
Apparently, a few units were given to universities as research tools for engineering departments. This one was abandoned for quite some time, leading the folks at The Drive to conclude that this must have been the case here.
The Drive isn’t giving any more specifics than that, unfortunately. The reason being, these are exceptionally rare cars that would carry a mighty high price tag for collectors or maybe even the GM lackeys who want to wipe these cars from the face of the earth.
The photos of this pristine example of the GM E1 were sent by the car’s anonymous caretaker, who understands the value and desire for this car. The caretaker is reported to care for this car very, very much and is guarding it fiercely. I, for one, am grateful to this person. This is a car nerd legend. Even to write about such a thing is exciting.
The school clearly owns this car, and GM seems to be leaving them to it. This is a fantastic example of something that is not only a rare item that is saved but also saved by exactly who it should be saved by, an educational institution that will care for it properly and learn from it.
What is a GM EV1?
These were early EVs powered by a 137-hp lead-acid or nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. The EV1 had an impressive range of about 142 miles. GM only ever made around 1,000 examples that weren’t ever purchased but leased to their temporary owners. After a few years, GM axed the EV1 and pulled as many of their cars back as possible, and had them destroyed. The whole thing was pretty insidious and sketchy.
The reason this particular one is so beautifully clean is that it has remained inside for years. The Drive reports that all models sent to schools were deactivated by taking various crucial parts out of them only to be studied, not driven. Of course, you can only imagine that some engineering departments couldn’t resist the temptation and likely got a few going down the road, here and there.
This one is a true time capsule that has been meticulously maintained and jealously guarded for many years. The fact that it exists is one thing: the fact that it is hidden away as this prize is another level of intrigue and excitement rarely felt outside of some children’s pirate treasure story. You just gotta love it.