Road Trip Outtakes: 1997 GM EV1 – Who Put the Electric Car in the Basement?

On our way out of Seattle and headed toward Canada, we decided to stop in Lynden, WA as it had been recommended by my wife’s Aunt as a neat town to visit. We were going through a really nicely done museum there and when I turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs to the basement displays, I was flabbergasted to be staring at an almost mythical car: a 1997 GM EV1.

The EV1 story is fascinating, and as I’m currently on slow interwebs access, I’ll give you a couple links to follow for your own further edification and edumacation rather than write that up here.

There were a total of 1,117 EV1s made and 660 of those were the 1997 Gen 1 models. None were sold—you could only lease, and that only after going through a vetting process (detailed at one of the external links above).

Nearly all of the cars were repossessed and crushed by GM at the end of the program—around 40 were saved and were made available to museums and universities, with an agreement that none could ever again be driven on public roads as an electric vehicle.

There’s still a lot of controversy surrounding the car and especially how GM ended the program. I did find that one of the Gen 1 vehicles has been reanimated, but that’s as part of a university hybrid research program (in order to meet the agreement with GM).

This was an incredible find for me personally, as this is a car I never expected to see in person, and especially not in the basement of a small-town museum in the far Northwest corner of Washington State.

Interior photo courtesy All other photos by author.