A half-dozen vintage electric cars, dating from 1910 to the 1920s, made several central-Iowa stops this week on their 2018 Historic Lincoln Highway Electric Car Tour.
Working from headquarters in Boone, the fleet rolled into Jefferson for lunch Tuesday and the Hotel Pattee for lunch of Wednesday, parking prominently in the Fareway parking lot.
The owners of the well preserved antique automobiles hail from seven or eight Midwestern states, with one coming from as far away as Georgia. The group gathers annually for similar driving tours throughout the U.S.
The old cars have mostly been fully restored to their original conditions, with the modern addition of updated power sources in the form of six 6-volt batteries, similar to those used in golf carts.
“None of them have steering wheels,” said John Palmer of Perry, a member of the Perry Historic Preservation Commission and a veteran of Perry’s car clubs. “There’s a deal that when you’re not using, it folds up against the side of the vehicle. It’s like a joy stick that comes down, and that’s how you steer it.”
The old units reach top speeds of 20 to 24 mph, and they have a range of about 100 miles between charges. A kind of sag wagon tours with the group in the form of a modern pickup truck with a large charger for topping off the batteries while the tourists enjoy their leisurely lunches.
According to information displayed on one of the vehicles, at least 62 electric car makers manufactured vehicles between 1893 and 1957.