Neil Young's Electric Car Company Sued for Half-Million Dollars Over 2010 Fire

He was converting a 1959 Lincoln Continental into a gas-electric hybrid running on biodiesel.

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Neil Young in concert

Gary Miller / Getty Images

Legendary Canadian rocker and folk artist Neil Young is the kind of man who knows what he wants. But a few years ago, he happened to want to drive a 1959 Lincoln Continental and a car that ran on sustainable fuel, so he had a dilemma on his hands. Could the cruise ship-sized gas guzzler be turned into a green car? Mr. Young took the do-it-yourself approach and created a company, LincVolt, with the goal of modifying his 5,000-lb, 20-foot-long 1959 Lincoln Continental to make it get at least 100 MPG-equivalent, and maybe even enter it in the Automotive X-Prize.

neil young lincoln 1959 electric 01 image

Old-School Meets Future Green

While the car was being converted to a biodiesel-electric hybrid, things didn't quite turn out for the best. In 2010, according to the Mercury News, "a malfunction while the car was charging set off a three-alarm blaze on Quarry Road on Nov. 9, 2010, that caused about $1 million in damage. Most of the damage was done to a lifetime of rock 'n' roll memorabilia—instruments, photos and film footage as well as the Lincoln—Young had stored in the warehouse."

Young's company is now being sued by Unigard Insurance, claiming negligence. "The altering of a gas-powered 1959 vehicle and its components is an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do," Unigard Insurance Co. claims in the suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court. There has been no problems with Young's conduct after the fire, though. Unigard says that he's been very responsive and helpful.

The only good news in this is that since the fire, Young has decided to rebuild the car and it has (apparently) been improved from the original version.