KINGMAN - The Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5, an electric car designed and built by students at Ohio State University, is being displayed for a year at the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum.
The 50-foot, 800-horsepower (600 kilowatt) Buckeye Bullet 2.5 blows away the perception of electric cars being slow and boring.
It holds the distinction of being the fastest electric car in the world, topping out at 321.8 mph during an August 2014 run in Wendover, Utah.
The first version of the speedster, built in 2009, set two Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) records in 2010, running 307.7 mph and 307.9 mph.
A third-generation Buckeye Bullet is under development, with 3,000 horsepower and a target speed of 440 mph.
The car, on loan from Wally Parks National Hot Rod Association Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif., brings the Route 66 museum's collection to 15 electric vehicles spanning 100 years of development, including the 1914 Custer Chair Car and the "Gone Postal" drag racing van from the Discovery Channel's "Sucking Amps."
Country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson's custom golf cart was added to the collection earlier this year. It has a Rolls Royce hood ornament and grille, red velvet seats embroidered with "Willie," radio and tape deck and full wet bar on the back of the cart.
The museum was established last year by the Historical Electrical Vehicle Foundation in conjunction with the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman.
While visitor numbers haven't been tallied for the first year, guests have come from all 50 states and 70 counties, said Josh Noble, director of Kingman's Tourism Development Commission. The museum continues to grow in popularity and hosted a reception for the second annual National Route 66 Motor Tour in October.
The Historical Electrical Vehicle Foundation, based in Washington, is planning a fundraiser to enrich visitors' experience with time-period photographs printed on the museum's walls and video presentations in the theater space.
"So far we have spent zero (dollars) on advertising the museum," HEVF executive director Roderick Wilde said in an email to the Daily Miner. "That will change this year after we do our fundraiser. We want to get all our displays done professionally before we invite the world."
Wilde said he wants museum visitors to be excited about returning to see what's new on their next visit. The foundation's mission is to share the history of electric cars and preserve the vehicles for people to see.
"The history of electric vehicles is an untold story that needs to be told," he said. "Since we are in the midst of an electric vehicle revolution, the time is right to tell that story."
Electric vehicles are on display at car museums around the world, but they are rarely a focal point and are seldom given the attention they deserve, Wilde said.
"HEVF exists to give electric vehicles their own place in history, and as it moves forward with acquisitions, the depth and breadth of the collection will grow," Wilde said.
The concept of the museum started with an invitation by Jim Hinckley, Kingman resident and Route 66 authority, to show a couple of electric vehicles at the Route 66 festival and promote Route 66 as the "Electric Highway." The festival held a symposium on electric cars.
"The ball started gaining some momentum when we started asking if there was a place we could show our vehicles under cover," Wilde said. "One thing led to another."
As for the future of the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, Wilde said: "First, because Kingman was so hospitable to our foundation, we will always have a presence there and will remain in the Powerhouse as long as we are welcome there.
"Of course, the museum is growing rapidly, even faster than this dreamer and optimist could possibly imagine. We are near capacity there, so we need to start looking for more space. I envision the Powerhouse as the focal point for the museum where we could eventually do theme-based exhibits with a satellite building nearby so people could visit two electric vehicle museums."
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