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All-Electric VW Golf MK1 Was Left to Rot in Woods, Comes Back to Life After 25 Years

Most abandoned cars spend their retirement years in junkyards, but you'll also find quite a few of them in barns and backyards. And all these vehicles have one thing in common: they're powered by internal combustion engines. Well, this yard find is an extremely rare exception that comes with an electric drivetrain.
abandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race car 6 photos
abandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race carabandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race carabandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race carabandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race carabandoned Volkswagen Golf Mk1 electric race car
Yup, don't let the Volkswagen Golf MK1 body fool you, this old hatchback doesn't have a four-cylinder mill under the hood. The original engine was removed a few decades ago and replaced with an electric motor and a trunkful of batteries.

Showcased by YouTube's "Budget Buildz," this old Golf EV spent about 25 years off the road. And before that, it was used as a race car. What, did they race electric vehicles in the 1990s? Well, this car was put together by Clemson University in 1993 and, believe it or not, it was SCCA-certified.

The story goes that the electric Golf was raced through 1994 and 1995 and was capable of running at 70 mph (113 kph) for two hours straight, an impressive figure for the mid-1990s. The car was reportedly scrapped out in 1997.

But the really cool thing about this Golf is that it's still in one piece, which is amazing for a vehicle that's been sitting for more than two decades. What's more, they managed to get it running again.

The experiment was interesting to say least for two reasons. First, the guys who rescued the Golf haven't worked on electric cars before. Second, the fact that this Golf features old EV technology made things that much more complicated.

But $4,000 worth of batteries and parts and a few days later and the Golf was running under its own power again. It will require additional cash to run and drive as it should, but Budget Buildz estimates that the Golf could return as much as 100 miles (161 km) on a single charge. Not bad for an EV that was put together at least 30 years ago, right?

While it might not be a factory conversion, Volkswagen was no stranger to battery-powered Golfs. The German company began working on an electrified version of the Mk1 in the mid-1970s. The first prototype arrived in 1976 as the Elektro Golf 1.

It never made it into production, but it was used and tested for several years. Volkswagen developed the second electric Golf, the CitySTROMer, in 1981. Using lead-acid batteries, it had a range of around 60 km (37 miles) and was built in 25 units.

Now considered one of the first electric vehicles suitable for everyday use, the CitySTROMer spawned follow-ups for the second- and third-gen Golfs and led to the introduction of the production e-Golf in 2013. But that's a different story for a different day. For now, see this electrified Mk1 come back to life after more than two decades.

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