The Marathon c-300

Electric vehicles are not a recent innovation. They date back to the middle of the 1800s, and were in vogue around the early 1900s. Ownership peaked in 1912, when most homes were wired with electricity and they could be easily charged. Unfortunately, as highways were built, the cars didn't have the range to make it to other cities, and EVs fell out of favour.

Canada has had it's rightful place in the development of electric vehicles, most notably the ZENN car which recently ceased production at it's facility near Montreal. Quebec has another electric vehicle story, though little known.

Built between 1977 and 1980 in Montreal, by the Marathon Electric Car Company, the c-300 is a tiny footnote in Canadian automotive history.

Reaching a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour, this 4 speed EV could travel about 50 km between charges. It had a dozen 6-volt batteries in the back, taking 8 to 10 hours to recharge, and ran on a Baldor 8-HP DC electric motor. It could go from 0 to 25 km/h in 5 seconds, and to 50 km/h in 20 seconds.

Cobbled together with parts from other manufacturers, the drive train was the one found in the Ford Pinto, which was being manufactured in St Thomas, ON at the time; and the gas heater came from Volkswagen.

Looking like a cross between a mail truck and a miniature Hummer, the c-300 was only available in yellow, though buyers had a choice of hard or soft top.

The company also made a 6 wheel electric van, named the c-360. It had a slightly longer range, due to it's 4 extra batteries, and could reach a top speed of 69 km/h.

The Marathon Electric Car Company sold over 600 battery powered vehicles by 1978, but closed it's doors in 1980.

By Linda Aylesworth -


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