As mentioned several times in the past, MOTHER EARTH NEWS is in the process of developing a small, two-seat, 60 mpg town, three-wheeled car that weighs only a quarter as much as a "standard" Detroit automobile and costs a great deal less — in both dollars and resources — than any Motor City vehicle now costs. Work is now progressing nicely on that car and we should have some knockout photos to show you soon.
In the meantime, however, it's only honest to tell you that a whole bunch of other folks are also working on ultra-light, ultra-efficient, ultra-etc. town cars too.
People like Bob Way as a matter of fact. And the reason Bob lives at the station (well, almost lives there anyway) is because he's just spent a long, cold winter designing and building a little two-place town car of his own.
"My little bug has less than 90 parts including the body, engine, drive train, etc.," says Bob. "The body is 4-oz. Dacron over plywood frames which, in turn, are bolted to a steel framework. The machine is driven by a 293cc single-cylinder engine geared through a torque converter to give both snappy initial acceleration and a top speed of 70 mph.
"I've designed the vehicle as a three-wheeled car because, in most states, anything with three wheels is considered a motorcycle instead of a car . . . and is therefore subject to less red tape and restrictions. I was also shooting for a vehicle that would cost less than $1,000 and which locally trained people could produce from locally available materials at the rate of five or ten units per week in a space no bigger than the average muffler shop."
And if nobody is interested in such a "backyard" manufacturing opportunity? Bob says he'll be happy to redesign his little machine for mass production. "All I want in such a case," he states, "is an engineering fee and a 1% royalty on the retail price of each vehicle sold."
Fair enough. So, whether you're interested in producing five little town cars a week or 5,000, here's a red-hot lead on a feller who's already started down that road and who's interested in working with you. There's no question about the fact that Bob's got a lot of work ahead of him yet . . . but we think he'll get it all done. Why? Because we know this boy. After all, he helped us a year ago when we were putting together the prototype of the prototype of MOTHER's own little urban vehicle!