A Hybrid Vehicle Leaning Toward the Future: The 3VG (PART II)

The 3VG hybrid vehicle combines the attributes of a car and handling characteristics of a motorcycle.

| November/December 1983

Let's take a closer look at our Research Department's automotive effort.

In the first part of this article, Three Wheel Cars: Our 3VG DIY Car Leans Toward the Future, we introduced the experimental 3VG a hybrid vehicle with the handling characteristics of a motorcycle and the weather protection of a car. That introductory piece not only explained why we felt that such a cambering vehicle has a place on American roads, but went on to describe the pros and cons of the design we chose to work with. We also noted that the components of the leaning system were governed by three separate inputs (the radius of the curve being negotiated, the speed of the vehicle, and the driver's preference).

In this article, we'll go on to cover the 3VG's mechanical aspects, and fill you in on some of its other unusual features, as well. As we said before, the machine uses a multitubular chassis of chrome molybdenum alloy and mild steel components, diagonally braced for rigidity and beefed up with sizable side rails and a midsection roll bar. This entire framework serves as a substantial platform upon which the front and rear suspensions, the power train, and the body are mounted.

State-of-the-Art Suspension

The essence of the 3VG's appeal lies in its leaning ability . . . and the apparatus that determines the status of the vehicle at any given time combines mechanical, hydraulic, and electronic technology. To begin, the front end is suspended on unequal length A-arms that are fastened to mounting brackets on the chassis. A torsion bar acting upon each of the lower arms provides the necessary jounce and rebound response, and at the same time-it delivers the resilient ride qualities inherent in torsion-type suspension systems. A nitrogen gas pressurized coil-over dampener shock absorber set at an acute angle between each arm and its spring perch further aids in maintaining "bounce" when the vehicle is leaning.

The uprights-which are secured between the upper and lower A-arms with ball joints, and which support the live front axles-house the axle bearings and also provide mounts for the steering knuckles (which are mounted forward of the A-arms to conserve weight and allow more foot room inside the passenger compartment).

Single-caliper floating disk brakes-fitted forward of the axle for more efficient cooling-provide stopping power for the front end. The rotors are fastened to a pair of heat treated spun aircraft aluminum rims . . . which are dished (to achieve zero pivot radius and thus minimize bump steer) and light in weight, yet a good deal stronger than steel or spoked wheels of the same size (to handle the severe stresses imposed by the vehicle's unusual geometry). The 21 inch radial-ply motorcycle tires give excellent ride and handling characteristics, and also offer low rolling resistance due to their narrow tread width.

Heidi Hunt_2
8/18/2008 8:56:18 AM

The plans for the 3VG are not available. They evidently went out of print prior to our acquiring the magazine.

8/16/2008 2:24:57 PM

Same question, hope you answer to my email. Thanks ind advance.

1/8/2008 6:10:41 PM

Hi, same question of Bill: is it possible to have the 3VG information package? in soft or hard copy form ? what way? That experience seems to be really still interesting, even 25 years old. Even if fuel consumption was really not acceptable:: this seem to be due to engine and power transmission, not suitable and not at the general design level of the vehicle. thanks Giorgio Paliaga 9 January 08 01:05

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