Never Satisfied: The Remarkable Story of 'La Jamais Contente', the Electric Car that Revolutionized Racing
Few cars have had such a profound impact on automotive history, yet are overlooked today's world. Today we're going to celebrate one of these forgotten legends: 'La Jamais Contente'.
'La Jamais Contente', which means "The Never Satisfied" in French, built in 1899 by Belgian race car driver Camille Jenatzy, was a pioneering electric car. Not only was the car ahead of its time in terms of technology and design, it also broke the land speed record, becoming the first vehicle to exceed 100 km/h (62 mph) and set a new standard for automotive engineering. 'La Jamais Contente's achievement played a key role in the development and popularization of electric cars, as well as the advancement of electric motors and batteries.
Development and Design
Jenatzy's innovative design featured a lightweight chassis made from chrome-nickel steel, which was powered by two Fulmen electric motors. These motors drew their power from Fulmen batteries, which were designed to deliver high levels of energy output with low internal resistance, something that was not common at the time.
To reduce wind resistance, the car was given a sleek, bullet-shaped body, made from aluminum. The design was so aerodynamic that it was able to reach top speeds that had never been seen before in a land vehicle.
Record Breaking Achievement
'La Jamais Contente' achieved legendary status in the world of automotive history by setting a new land speed record in April 1899. The car was driven by Camille Jenatzy himself, who pushed the car to its limits on the roads of Achères, France.
With its advanced electric powertrain (for the time) and aerodynamic design, La Jamais Contente achieved a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph), breaking the previous land speed record of 92.78 km/h (57.6 mph) set by a steam-powered vehicle the previous year.
The record stood for several years, until it was broken by another electric car in 1902. Nevertheless, the car's impact on automotive history was immense. It helped pave the way for the development of faster, more efficient vehicles, and its legacy can still be felt in modern-day electric cars.
Legacy and Impact
Jenatzy's achievement in 'La Jamais Contente' was a major milestone in the history of automotive engineering. It demonstrated the potential of electric vehicle technology and the importance of aerodynamics in achieving high speeds.
Previously to its time, all electric vehicles were widely regarded as slow and impractical, and for good reason as most of them were. However breaking the land speed record at the time demonstrated the potential of electric vehicle technology when combined with optimized aerodynamics.
The car's success in breaking the land speed record also inspired generations of engineers and designers to push the boundaries of what was possible in automotive engineering.
Sadly, 'La Jamais Contente' remains a forgotten legend of automotive history. However, its impact on the development of electric cars, motors, and batteries, as well as on the legacy of Camille Jenatzy, cannot be overstated. As with many forgotten legends, we sometimes only really appreciate the greatest things when looking in hindsight.