Tzero – Roadster Inspiration
Epilogue – This iconic 1 of 3 built inspiration behind the Tesla Roadster sadly perished in a fire at the Gruber Motor Company EV Service Center May 5, 2017 in which a number of cars were lost including 7 Roadsters.
This tribute article, written nine months before the fire, describes this early legend which helped usher in the EV era.
The impact the Tzero had on the creation of Tesla Motors, and the inspiration behind the first Tesla car, the Roadster is undeniable. Here is a repost describing this historic car:
Every collecting pursuit, from comic books to Beanie Babies, has a “Holy Grail” — its rarest and most valuable object. And so it is with car collecting.
Ferrari has the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, Plymouth has the 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible, Lamborghini the 1972 Miura P400 SV, and Ford faithful covet the 1968 GT40.
The Tzero electric car featured in these pictures has not been valued yet and may remain obscure, or maybe not. There were only three of these built and in existence. One now resides in Arizona and is a test vehicle at the Gruber Motor Company EV division Service Center.
This is the car, built by a tiny company called AC Propulsion Systems in CA that inspired Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning, the early founders of Tesla Motors (Elon came a bit later), to commit to building electric sports cars, and the rest is history. Elon also found AC Propulsion some time after Martin, test drove the Tzero, and also became convinced there is a market for electric cars. He then joined Martin’s Tesla Motors as an investor, and eventually took over the company.
These three Tzero’s, built in 1997, rivaled the performance of exotic cars of that era. It is the proof of concept vehicle that the first production Teslas, the Roadster, was patterned after. In fact, for a time, Tesla used the Tzero as a test mule, and paid royalties to AC Propulsion for using their T Zero design in the Roadster.
It is also the most influential electric vehicle in this century since it inspired and started the clean energy electric car movement.
Performance is 0-60 is 4.2 seconds with a range around 70-80 miles with lead acid Optima batteries in the doors. Handling is surprisingly nimble and responsive.