Detroit Electric car goes to college

The museum’s 1916 model 60 Detroit Electric vehicle made an appearance at the Electric Auto Association’s 50th anniversary rally at De Anza College on September 16. Preparing the vehicle for the event was a collaborative effort.

The Detroit Electric model 60 on display at the Electric Auto Association’s 50th anniversary rally, September 2017

Last spring, George Stuckert of EAA approached the museum about displaying the vehicle. During the time the Detroit has been on display in the Trolley Barn at History Park, its 14 batteries have lost their juice. In the past, members of the EAA have assisted in returning the automobile to operable condition. Restoration shop volunteer Allan Greenberg, curator Ken Middlebrook and Stuckert discussed the status of the vehicle, how to return it to operable condition, and, most importantly, how to maintain the car in the future.   

Early in his analysis of the car, Stuckert discovered that an incorrect recharging system had been previously used. Newer charging systems can be digitally set-up to provide the correct power and a trickle charge over the long term. The Detroit required a new charger and fourteen new, 6-volt, deep amperage batteries, generously donated by Stuckert. With the support of Greenberg and other restoration shop volunteers, Stuckert installed the new batteries and connections for the digital charger.

The Detroit Electric being loaded onto Campbell Towing truck at History Park, September 2017

On September 16, the car was loaded onto a Campbell Towing truck for transportation to the rally at De Anza College. Although surrounded by flashy new electric vehicles such as Tesla models S and X, and the Nissan Leaf, our 1916 Detroit Electric attracted equal attention during the event.  Most visitors were dumbfounded by a 100 year-old electric vehicle. “I never knew” was a frequent comment.

The Detroit Electric can be viewed in the Trolley Barn, open most weekends. On special occasions, the car may be found operating in History Park.

Thank you George Stuckert for the support of this unique artifact!