One of the true legends of rock and roll music, Canadian born Neil Young started his career by forming the band Buffalo Springfield. After breaking apart from the band and going solo with success, Young would eventually join forces with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. For several decades, Young has had some of the biggest hits in rock music including “Old Man” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”. In his later years, Young has been a big advocate for going green, joining many celebrities in the process.
When it comes to classic cars, many people are afraid to adjust the parts at all, sticking with what the car was manufactured with. That wasn’t the case for Young, as he and a team of environmentally conscious people took an old 1959 Lincoln Continental and completely transformed it. The idea was to take the classic car and make it environmentally friendly, converting the Continental into a hybrid, renaming it the LincVolt.
Overall, the mission of the LincVolt is to inspire people to cut down on their dependence on fossil fuels, which the LincVolt team says cuts down the chances of future wars. They also wanted to make it so that the LincVolt didn’t have any emissions and could even power a home when parked the garage. Over the years, the LincVolt has seen some changes to the mechanics. Originally, Johnathan Goodwin built the prototype with a Mazda generator, but the 2010 edition changed that.
Young introduced the vehicle at the 2010 Specialty Equipment Market Association that was built by a few manufacturers, featuring a Capstone Microturbine generator and a Thunder Sky lithium iron battery. A redesign would be needed once more in less than a year, as the LincVolt caught fire while recharging. Instead of abandoning the project, the team simply changed some of the parts, including a new Capstone Microturbine generator and A123 lithium ion battery.
The new battery takes about six hours to charge when plugged in, and the LincVolt can go for up to 50 miles using nothing but electricity. When using fuel, the LincVolt gets around 24 miles per gallon according to tests, reaching up to 400 miles without needing additional fuel or recharging. A combination of E85 and gasoline is used for the fuel, as well as cellulosic ethanol, which has shown to be the most efficient type of fuel in terms of lowered emissions.
The LincVolt is typically set to commuter mode, meaning that it never actually uses fuel in most cases. When it’s at its highest performance, the LincVolt is powered by the generator while still conserving fuel, especially when coasting. You might be surprised to learn that the LincVolt can actually cruise around at 80 miles per hour quite comfortably, conserving fuel all the way.
At more than 5,000 pounds of curb weight, that’s quite a lot to be pushing around, but the LincVolt manages just fine. The engine itself is a 150-kilowatt electric motor, which would translate into 500 horsepower in a standard engine. The top speed the LincVolt has been able to achieve so far is 160 miles per hour, which is quite impressive.
Overall, Young had dropped well over $100,000 into the LincVolt project when it first started, in hopes that he can get the vehicle to use more than 100 miles per gallon. Now, it’s estimated that the total has climbed to more than $1 million (which isn’t much considering his $65 million net worth). Things seemingly hit a snag for Young when the battery died in 2015 and he had to pull over and get help pushing the vehicle. Thankfully, it just needed a new charge as the car has been operational once again ever since.
Obviously, there’s still some tuning that needs to be done to the LincVolt before it’s ready to set the standard for fuel efficient automobiles. So far, more than 40,000 miles have been put on the LincVolt in North America after the 2015 scare. There haven’t been too many updates from Young about the vehicle’s improvement, however, so some are wondering if the project has been a seven figure burnout in the end.
The idea for the LincVolt wasn’t to put one in every garage, though, as it was more of a passion project to promote awareness for environmental changes. Since there have been plenty of people talking about the classic Continental turned into a hybrid car, it’s safe to say that the job has been done for the most part. Many car collectors wouldn’t dream of dumping more than $1 million to change a car like that, but Young and his team had a vision.
The LincVolt isn’t the only car sitting in Young’s collection, but continues to be his pride and joy. As a collective, the team is still looking for ways to utilize the technology in converting older cars into more fuel efficient ones, while also making it more affordable to do so. With as cool as the LincVolt looks when rolling down the street, it’s turned heads for a lot of car collectors that want to do the same. For now, we’ll have to see if the LincVolt holds up for much longer, but it’s had a good run (even if a bit shaky) so far.