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Detroit, Greek island style

From the Endfield Automotive, Electricity Council and Constantine Adraktas archives.

Syros was the only Greek island that once manufactured cars, and it was a doozy, decades ahead of its time. The Enfield 8000, the first commercially viable electric car, was invented on the Isle of Wight in 1966 under John Goulandris, of the wealthy Greek shipping family.

When Goulandris purchased Enfield it had been producing rifles, but when the United Kingdom Electricity Council held a competition for a prototype electric car in 1966 (just when air pollution in cities was becoming a major concern), Enfield Automotive was formed and entered and won with a design by George Michael. Like modern electric cars it ran on rechargeable batteries, had an aluminum frame, unique aerodynamic design and leather seats, and could go 48mph (77km/h) for up to 56 miles (90km).

A hundred Enfields were made on the Isle of Wight, but when the metal workers demanded more money in 1973, Goulandris surprised everyone by closing the factory and moving production to an old mill building by the Neorion shipyards on Syros—even though Governor Ronald Reagan of California, who was very impressed with the car, had offered to set up a factory in California.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Constantine Adraktas at English Wikipedia, Mr. Georgios Michael, creative commons license