A piercing whine fills our ears as we roll away from the stoplight, dies down as we accelerate past 20 miles per hour and gives way to a whirring from the engine.
I’m not sure what’s more thrilling—the eerie quiet of Mark Brandow’s all-electric roadster or the fact that my tuchus can’t be more than eight or ten inches from the asphalt as we accelerate onto the freeway.
Put together, it feels like this rebuilt MG convertible is hurtling down the road thanks only to magic—a magic car, that is, that rattles and feels like it might bottom out every time it hits one of Minneapolis’ plentiful potholes.
Quality Coaches employee Carl Craig and I end up working the speedster going up to highway speeds along Interstate 35W, but we have to turn off onto Diamond Lake Road after 16 blocks of freeway. Despite a trunk full of high-capacity batteries, dashes like ours slurp up juice like a thirsty toddler. If we got stuck somewhere, we’d have 12 hours to kill while the “Volts Wagen” refilled itself from a wall outlet. Somewhat reluctantly, we turn northwards towards the car’s home, and Minneapolis’ bumpy streets.
Brandow, the owner of Kingfield’s , has always been an MG nut, and he and his employees frequently tinker with cars or build new creations. A few years ago, the shop turned out a limousine built from two MG convertibles welded together. However, the impetus for this particular creation, Brandow said, came by happenstance.
“The car had been sitting for years, so it would have been too hard to get it running again," Brandow explained. "So I thought I’d see if I could find an electric motor application to get it running again.”
A few automotive surgeries later from Brandow, his friends and a few employees, Quality Coaches had created an impressive little beast.
“I had one other guy who came by here—the former president of the Electric Car Society of Minnesota—and he went for a ride with me and got it up to 65 miles per hour," Brandow recalled. "And he said, ‘This runs better than anything I’ve ever built!’”