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The Electric Era

Nowadays electric cars have a pretty cheesy image, but at the beginning of the century they were the fastest cars in the World. The first Land Speed Record was set on 18th December 1898 at a specially arranged time trial on an open road at Archères, France by the comte Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat with a winning speed of 39.24 mph. The Frenchman's Jeantaud car was powered by a single electric motor generating 36 hp.

Belgian arch-rival Camille Janatzy was unable to attend that day, but was anxious to beat this speed with his electric car and issued a challenge to Chasseloup-Laubat for a head-to-head contest. This resulted in both duellists breaking the record on 17th January 1899, with Jenatzy returning 10 days later to achieve 49.92 mph. Chasseloup-Laubat responded by applying rudimentary streamlining to his Jeantaud and recorded 57.6 mph, then Jenatzy settled the contest on 29 April by speeding to 65.79 mph in a new streamlined electric car La Jamais Contente, the first car purposely designed to break the record.

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