Hey, Take a Look at Our Three-Wheeled Car

We'd like to believe that if it's both practical and fun, a three-wheeled car could find a place in the U.S. market.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1983
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Our three-wheeled car is in fact less than a car but more than a motorcycle.
Photo by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff


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A decade or so ago, it used to be that motorcycles and tiny sports cars got a lot of bad press, so to speak. After all, "nice" people didn't drive machines like that. Practical folks often kept their distance because such conveyances seemed to be more fun than functional. And besides, everyone knew that a vehicle's true measures of quality were its size and ride.

Well, that's all been changed, and it's happened pretty quickly too. So quickly, in fact, that while Detroit was still fiddle-fumbling around trying to get better fuel economy and meet federal emissions requirements using essentially the same huge, heavy turnpike cruisers they'd been building all along, foreign manufacturers (some with 50 years of small-car-making experience under their belts) filled the market with tested and proven subcompact sedans. These imports not only did nearly everything a domestic car would do, but did it for a lot less money.

Today, Motor City engineers are scrambling to beat the competition at their own game, but in the quest for stellar MPG figures and acceptable emissions levels, something seems to get lost: excitement.

And the funny thing about excitement is that it usually comes at a price. A sky diver, for instance, knows there'll be hell to pay if the chute doesn't open. But thrills and risk don't necessarily go hand in hand (have you ever ridden a roller coaster?). Maybe that's as good a way as any to explain the three-wheeled "car " we’re presenting here.

It's important to understand, right from the onset, that it's not actually a car. By the same token, though, it's not exactly a motorcycle, either. It's an entirely new road machine that's been designed to find a place somewhere between a motorcycle and a small car. Once you realize that, it's clear that we're talking about a vehicle which combines the best features of both.

This machine — designed and put together by MOTHER EARTH NEWS founder John Shuttleworth and members of our research crew — was conceived three years ago and has been under development ever since. You can see that it leans (in fact, by almost 20°) into turns, and has narrow, large-diameter wheels like a cycle. But at the same time you'll note that the body is designed for high aerodynamic efficiency. This, in combination with a well-balanced, lively engine and motorcycle-like weight, gives us a road-burner that'll out-handle and out-perform more traditional cars, while still [1] sipping, rather than guzzling, precious gasoline; [2] providing a level of comfort and safety not dreamed of with even the best touring cycles; [3] furnishing room for two occupants and three or four sacks of groceries, a couple of day packs, or maybe even a set of golf clubs; [4] giving the driver a sporting chance at some tight parking spaces for a change; and [5] offering anyone who gets behind the wheel an opportunity to really enjoy driving without risking his or her hide!

If you're interested, we don't blame you. But if you want to find out more about what's going on here, you'll just have to wait for our next issue. We'll fill you in on what we believe to be the state of the art in practical performance vehicles.


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