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B2522 Automobile, full size, Ford Prefect, Model 100E, steel/glass/rubber, assembled by Ford Motor Co of Australia, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 1959, petrol engine replaced by electric motor by Roy Doring, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia, 1959. Click to enlarge.

1959 Ford Prefect model 100E converted to electric power

Made 1959
This is a 1959 Ford Prefect Model 100E made by the Ford Motor Co. of Australia at Geelong in Victoria. It is unusual because the car was converted to run on electricity by Roy Doring, said to be Sydney's first auto electrician, a business he established in Rockdale in 1921. The car was claimed to have been Australia's first post-World War II electric-powered sedan and the last of 51 vehicles Roy converted to electric power. Roy drove electric cars for years and used this car as his own vehicle.

Originally powered by a 4-cylinder petrol engine, this Ford Prefect was subsequently fitted with thirteen, 6-volt, Exide batteries and a 3 kW electric motor from an early electric car. The switch gear and battery racks were designed by Roy and the car was recharged by just plugging it into a domestic 240 volt power point via the car's petrol filler cap which took between 4 and 8 hours. Roy Doring's electric car had a range of 70 km and a top speed of 60 km/h, which made it ideal for city driving at the time especially with no emissions and no energy expenditure while sitting in traffic jams.

During the Second World War, when petrol rationing forced most cars off the road, Roy did a lucrative trade converting some 40 petrol cars to run on electric power. At 165 pounds a car, it was quite an expensive undertaking. However, he had a number of prominent Sydneysiders among his clients and supporters including Nancy Bird Walton whose 1943 Hillman was converted together with cars owned by Harold Hastings Deering, whose company Hastings Deering Pty Ltd were the sole metropolitan distributor for the Ford Motor Co., and Samuel Hordern from the famous Sydney retailing family. Roy worked in collaboration with Sir Roland Wilson, a senior Canberra public servant, whose own homemade electric car is also in the museum's collection (object number B2339). During the war Wilson and Doring worked on a motorised electric transporter to row crashed airmen through the water and a gas-powered machine gun.

Is not well known that during the early twentieth century electric cars were a real threat to petrol driven ones. They were so popular in Sydney as town cars that the local council even established a charging station for them in 1914. However, development of electric cars virtually ceased during the 1930s because they could no longer be competitive. A century after their initial halcyon days, electric cars finally became accepted again with production by large car companies. In the late 1960s Roy was ahead of his time being convinced that the electric car was about to make a comeback with the imminent development of storage batteries to reduce their weight and increase capacity. He recognised the benefits of operating an electric car which included its very low operating and maintenance costs, extreme reliability, no pollution, fast acceleration and quiet operation. During the 1950s and 1960s petrol cars were not as reliable as today (2015), engines needed servicing much more often incurring extra expense and broke down much more often than they do now.

Roy Doring died in 1971 without seeing his vision of a return to electric car popularity and widespread acceptance. His son, Bill Doring, continued to use the Ford Prefect for the family's auto electrician business. In 1983 Bill donated the car to the Museum as an example of a local enthusiast's work in the development and promotion of electric-powered cars in Australia. The car is a very interesting example of a local attempt to find a viable alternative to petrol as a source to power automobiles.

Davis, Pedr, 'Roy Sparks a New Motoring Interest You Just Plug in for Power' in "Pix", 20 April 1968.
Information provided by the Doring family.

Margaret Simpson, Curator
January 2015


Object No.


Object Statement

Automobile, full size, Ford Prefect, Model 100E, steel/glass/rubber, assembled by Ford Motor Co of Australia, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 1959, petrol engine replaced by electric motor by Roy Doring, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia, 1959

Physical Description

Automobile, full size, Ford Prefect, Model 100E, steel/glass/rubber, assembled by Ford Motor Co of Australia, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 1959, petrol engine replaced by electric motor by Roy Doring, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia, 1959

This is a four-door sedan with black livery, the body is made of pressed steel panels and the chassis is spot welded and brazed together. The side of the car has the lettering: "Doring Bros 36 Hattersley St Arncliffe Auto Electrical Specialists".

Inside, the trim and upholstery are in maroon coloured leatherette with white piping. The car has two bucket seats in the front and a bench seat in the rear. The head lining is white and there are rubber floor coverings. The front floor wells have added carpet car mats and a piece of offcut carpet.

The dashboard has been modified and to the right of the steering wheel two instruments had been added for electric operation. These comprise a large industrial type electrical knife switch with an orange handle, which is inscribed "60 Amp Trumbull 125 volts", to connect and disconnect the power, and a voltmeter in the form of a dial. A switch for selecting forward and reverse gears has also been added.

There are metallic stickers for Exide batteries on the rear right side window and the rear windscreen, a 1954 Royal Tour badge attached to the radiator grill and a NSW Registration label dated June 1981. The number 51 added near the right tail light refers to this car being the 51st converted by Roy Doring to electric power.

Model: Ford Prefect 100E
Engine: electric motor 3kW
Batteries: powered by thirteen 6-volt lead-acid batteries (78-volts)
Range: 70 km
Top speed: 60 kph
Charger: plugged into household power point through petrol cap
Transmission: 4 speed with synchromesh on top
Brakes: Hydraulic drum
Bodywork: 4 seat, 4 door



1520 mm


1600 mm


3900 mm





This Model 100E Ford Prefect was assembled at the Ford plant in Geelong, Victoria. A total of 100,554 Ford Prefects were made between 1953 and 1959 assembled in England, Australia and New Zealand. The car was originally fitted with a 1172 cc Ford straight 4-cylinder petrol engine and a three-speed grearbox.

Roy Doring converted this Ford Prefect into electric operation by removing and selling the petrol engine and in its place putting an early electric car engine under the bonnet. This 3 kW electric motor was coupled directly to the original three-speed gearbox through a flexible joint. The electric motor spun at 2,500 rpm and could draw up to 220 amps during acceleration. Once the car reached a steady speed the amperage dropped to around 50. Electric power for the motor was stored in 13 batteries divided amongst the boot and under the bonnet to balance the car's weight.

To drive the car was very simple. It had no clutch to push nor gears to change. The original Ford Prefect gearbox was retained to provide reverse gear. The accelerator pedal was used to drive the car forward and the normal brake to stop. When the car was parked the batteries were disconnected with a large master switch near the steering wheel.



Roy Edmund Vincent Doring was born on 12 May 1903 in the New South Wales town of Barraba, and was educated at Camden Grammar School and undertook his apprenticeship as an automotive engineer in Sydney. Roy had a lifetime interest in electric cars which began in 1917 when he drove one owned by Sydney's fire department. In 1921 he established his own business as an auto electrician in Kogarah, with the assistance of his wife, Ina. Roy built his own electric car in 1941 and in 1948 purchased a pair of Detroit Electric broughams made in 1908 and 1914 by the Anderson Electric Co. of Detroit, USA. These were purchased from the Allen brothers of Allen Allen and Hemsely. He kept and restored the 1908 car for himself and it was well-known in the St Georges area of Sydney as his "grandma duck" car. The 1914 model was eventually owned by Bill Lloyd. These Detroit Electrics had been owned by the prominent Sydney solicitor, Arthur Allen, who at one time owned five of these electric cars one of which, a 1915 model, is in the Museum's collection (object number B1057).


Credit Line

Gift of Bill Doring, 1983

Acquisition Date

21 June 1983

Cite this Object


1959 Ford Prefect model 100E converted to electric power 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=1959 Ford Prefect model 100E converted to electric power |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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