We bring you this advisory from the Telstar Logistics Historical Research Unit which is currently deployed on a joint fact-finding mission with the Grain of Salt Division.
While wandering through a flea market on Sunday morning, this February 1959 copy of Motor Trend magazine caught our attention. Specifically, we were attracted to the story highlighted on the top right of the cover: "Electric Cars Are Back."
That alone may generate some nervous laughter, but upon turning to the story, the sense of deja-vu becomes downright unsettling. Here is the introduction to the 1959 article, which is itself a sort of ironic nod to the superlatives which have long been part of electric car salesmanship (Click the image to enlarge):
A new departure in electric vehicle constriction; light, safe, noiseless, odorless, clean, durable, comfortable, simple in operation. Battery guaranteed for two years. In no other vehicle are all these desirable qualities combined. One motoring reporter waxed enthusiastic about the car, and further stated that there was just no point in waiting for price reductions or improvements... this was it! The car described was the Waverly, one of the best known of the early 1900 electric cars.
Some 59 years later, this reporter became quite enthusiastic while testing the Charles "Town-About," a completely new and modern electric car. Tis newest of American autos is manufactured by the Stinson Aircraft Tool & Engineering Co. of San Diego, California. It is interesting to note similarity between the claims of the old Waverly, and the new Town-About.
And it is no less interesting to note that the Charles "Town-About" itself faded into the mists of electric car history, such that a Google search today turns up precious few mentions, except for this brief reference quoted here in its entirety:
Built in 1958 and 1959 at the Stinson Aircraft Tool and Engineering Corp. of San Diego CA, these electric cars were named after Dr. Charles H. Graves, the driving force behind their production. Several prototypes were built, each refined from the previous version. It appears there was no significant production of these vehicles, with only about 12 being produced in total. The vehicles used nickel-cadmium batteries and were sold mostly to utility companies.
The moral of the story is probably obvious, but for those of us who harbor electric car fantasies, it still bears repeating: Caveat emptor!
(Photos above by Telstar Logistics)