Comedy: 1970s EV with 4,000 Batteries

By · October 27, 2008

We’re probably showing our age when we remember Fernwood 2 Night, the 1977 mock talk-show spinoff of classic 1970s comedy series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. But it wasn’t until we found one of the old clips that we realized: Good lord, the show’s writers anticipated the Tesla Roadster battery by at least 30 years!

The clip (which runs 3:40) has host Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) and his fractious sidekick Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard) welcoming Fernwood’s local gas station owner Virgil Simms (played by a very young Jim Varney, of the “Ernest” movies). Virgil has invented an electric car, which seems to be based on an orange Volkswagen Fastback from 1971-73.

Once the battery is revealed—actually “about 4,000” of them, seemingly D-cells—we couldn’t help but think of the Tesla battery pack, with its 6,871 lithium ion cells. Guess those battery engineers must have been watching late-night reruns again…

The proto-Tesla, circa 1977.

(Our thanks to car fan Rick Feibusch of Venice, California, for the link.)

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