Zagato, the Italian coachbuilder located northwest of Milan and known mostly for its attractive GT and sports cars, has had its difficult times in the past, just like any other manufacturer. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, the company’s traditional market of handmade beauties was being eaten away by more affordable rivals from mainstream manufacturers like Ford and Opel. That forced Zagato to look into a completely different segment and reveal the Zele electric microcar at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show.
An unusual departure from the studio’s famous creations, the Zele had a fiberglass body riding on a chassis derived from the Fiat 500 and Fiat 124. It was offered in three versions, 1000, 1500, and 2000, with the number standing for the wattage of the electric motors. It was also sold in the United States under the Elcar moniker and a total of about 500 were produced.
One of these rare vehicles is going on sale at RM Sotheby’s The Weird & Wonderful Collection auction in London tomorrow, September 5. It’s a Zele 1000 model and is powered by four 12-volt batteries, which, when properly charged, provide a maximum range of approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers). The recharging process requires a simple plug into the main supply via a transformer.
During its first 11 years, this car was used regularly by its original owner and was sold to a private collector in 1985. Then, in 2011, the current owner, paid for a full nut-to-bolt restoration of the EV and a photo album of the restoration process accompanies the car today.
Originally, the car was available in a total of seven colors. This particular car is finished in yellow and is expected to fetch somewhere between £5,000 - £10,000, or $6,430 – $12,860 at the current exchange rates.
Source: RM Sotheby's