A Four-Wheeler has One Wheel Too Many.
last updated 8/08
No need to re-invent the (third) wheel!
A fellow named Elvis Payne runs a wonderful website called
and he has really done his homework and continues to keep the site fresh. He even has an excellent gallery of owners' vehicles. It's one very good reference!
For my part, I will stick to the periphery: my friends in the three-wheeling business, and the rarities and oddities of the category of three-wheeling! Enjoy. Of course, the TTW (Tilting Three-Wheelers) page is still around!
AND... added 2/13/07, the return of Jim Beck's FREEWAY pages! The Freeway, by H-MV, ("High-Mileage Vehicles") of Burnsville, Minnesota, was a nice response to the question of mileage after the gas shock of the late 70s.
Dave Norton built this model of the Shrike. Top speed of 100 mph. This is one serious 3-wheeler. He has a guest page at this site.
Gene Freeman built this gorgeous one-off, called "Hotstuff." He has a guest page at this site.
Bill L. also built THIS trike, based on a Subaru, with two front wheels and one rear wheel. He says this one handles "like go-carts and Ferraris." You can get Bill at email@example.com to ask him about this beauty, too, or about his V8-powered Triumph. Thanks for sharing your good work, Bill!
Personal Electric Scooter (formerly Microtrike)
An enterprising Englishman has come up with a design for a modern microcar. His name is Dave Crossan, and his car is the MicroTrike. Thanks for sending this along, Dave!
Art's Electric Trike
"Art Welter's Electric Trike Technical Details
Prior to the addition of the body, stereo, PV panel and seats, the
drivable rolling chassis weight distribution was: 76 pounds right front, 75
pounds, left front, 173 rear- 324 pounds total.
Finished weight is 550 pounds (105 pounds left front, 150 right front,
Approximate weight in pounds of the body additions: Third battery and
transmission 60, Wood 54, PV Panel 25, Seats 20, Stereo & speakers 20,
Toolbox 20, Wire and Gauges 15, Lexan 5,Inverter 5, Lights 2
Motor: 24 Volt D.C. .8 horsepower American Lincoln Corporation
34 Amps, 1700 RPM, 50 Deg. Cent. Rating,Frame:56 5328D, Cat# 80059, Serial # 1063
Suspension and front wheels: Two 1977 Peugeot moped frames
Rest of frame: 1/2" X1/16" square steel tube, omnitriangulated space frame
Body:1/8" birch plywood with 1/2", 5/8" & 3/4" ribs
Floorboards:1/8,1/4 & 1/2" birch plywood
Windows:1/8" Lexan plastic
Solar Panel: Photowatt 100 watt
Curtis PMC 275 Amp Motor controller, model 1204-001
Yamaha 6 speed Transmission
3) Morco Marine Batteries, Group 27 size, 115 Amp Hour rating
Pro-Watt 800 watt DC-AC inverter
Built by Art Welter, Welter Systems -438 hours from 11/23/01 to 2/3/02/02
- 135 hours procuring materials, designing and building the frame, steering,
brakes and transmission, 45 hours of tune ups and transmission re-design,171
hours for the body, lights and stereo, 87 hours for parking brake, door
windows and transmission repairs and adjustments.
After some more test drives with the bicycle derailler type transmission,
power , range, and reliability all proved inadequate , although the noise
from the chains was more than adequate. A third battery was added, raising
the voltage to 36 volts, and the chain and gears were replaced with a
motorcycle transmission utilizing a custom v-belt drive. The belt from the
motor to the transmission had to be replaced with a chain drive again because
of slippage and near-instantaneous destruction. These subsequent
modifications took 105 hours, compared to the original gear system which took
approximately 115 hours, bringing the total time invested to 543 hours.
Speed seems to be around 20 mph on the flat, but unfortunately I live in
the mountains, so it's a lot of 4-8 mph up and 30 mph down, and the uphil
draws so much amperage that the little 3 battery bank gets skunked, leaving
the range to only about 10 miles. I think the range would be at least double
that if it was used on flat land- I may tow it somewhere to test that out
one of these days."
One-offs and Rarities
Dave sent this in...
"Thought you might like a picture of my 1984 Bamby. It was originanally fitted with a 50cc moped engine, but I changed it to electric but it only done 10 miles at 40 mph .It is now fitted with a 125cc Piaggio twist-and-go engine, it now does about 55mph.
"We live just outside London, England.The Bamby was made in Hull which is about halfway up England on the east coast. It is one of only 35 that were made by a house painter named Allan someone. It has got disc brakes on the front only, they are off a go-kart and bloody useless,but the handbrake works quite well."
Thanks, Dave, for sharing this! Dave can be reached at this e-ddress.
I got to see an example of this bike at the Nataional Auto Museum in Reno, NV.
"Leon Bollee was the first in France to build small gasoline powered vehicles, beginning to do so in 1895.
This voiturette as he called it, was introduced in the 1896 Paris-Marseille-Paris race. With three speeds of 6-12-18
mph, it was one of the fastest of its type. In 1897 modified versions won the Paris-Dieppe race at 24 mph and the
Paris-Trouville race at 28 mph.
Mark Murphy of Blue Sky Design sent in this picture of his BugE, "an ultralight grocery getter," he says. Pretty! Mike's company, Blue Sky Design (http://blueskydsn.com/) does some cool vehicular work!
I got an email from a nice guy in Arizona with this rare and delightful vehicle: the Honda Bubu Cabin Scooter. What a car! His only has 160 miles on the odometer. Sweet. In addition, the scooter has: forward and reverse (single speed), 50cc engine, instruments read in English, street legal (although top speed is a blistering 35mph) He wants to know more about it. Tell him, and tell me. Send email to Frank Beck at Porschport@aol.com.
| Dig this fine city car. 50cc engine, like a moped, this three-wheeled car
is built by Cassalini on an Ape 50 chassis, and is called a Sulky. Because of the
engine's diminutive size, this Florentine driver needed no license. He has one, because his other car is a Mercedes,
but my point is the same.. The body is fiberglass in this case; we also saw sheet-metal Sulkies elsewhere in Italy.
The California Commuter
You can read about the The California Commuter built by the very inventive Doug Malewicki, this vehicle is in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the highest-mileage vehicle on record. For instance: The 157.192 "MPG at 55 MPH gasoline record" was set on a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco where the machine was featured at the San Francisco International Auto Show. Just 2.87 gallons to travel 451.3 miles! It's not in production. Too bad. Thanks, Jeff Bequette, for noting the omission of this amazing three-wheeler and pointing me in its direction.
Title: STUDLY DUCKING [Nope, I don't understand that either]
The Electric Car Co. of CA
Atti sent this in in April of 2001. He writes, "Made by the Electric Car Company of Long Beach, CA. Originally sold for $945. Top speed 18mph, with a range of 30-35 miles between charges. An earlier metal example was also made that was not as 'attractive'."
The Essex 50
This was sent to me by an inspiring tilting trike builder in Brazil, Antonio C. B. Sanjuan. This 1950 trike had a 200 cc motor. It's a nice little runabout, I think. Thanks, Antonio!
|Fabrique National Model A.S. 24
the Belgian paratroopers work with this beast. Check it OUT!
If you click on the image above, you can see the little "wagon handle" steering and the little cargo space door. If anyone can help Chip out with information about these vehicles, he'd be grateful, and so would I. Chip can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the Marketeer: Chris H. bought one. He writes: "I bought $275.00 worth of batteries and it runs like a champ! My kids love it!"
And more... Alden Jewel sent such a nice stach of reprints of brochures that I have created a Marketeer page. Thanks, Alden!
L'Oeuf by Paul Arzens, 1942
Jay H. reminded me a few years ago about a plexiglas and aluminum vehicle created by French artist Paul Arzen. I got to see the real thing in the trasportation museum at Mulhouse in France. Quite a car.
I translate here from my limited knowledge of French: "The Electric Egg. During the occupation, in 1942, Paul Arzens built this celebrated electric car. Made from sphere of plexiglas mounted on aluminum, materials only recently introduced in France, this car illustrates the striking manner the wish to approach the ideal form of the egg. One imagines the stupor of bystanders of the era at seing this uncommon car, however rational the shape."
| Here's one way the Italians deliver mail. The
Life in Italy sure is the best. Indeed, Dr. Pasquali has been in contact, but now his web address (http://www.webmood.com/pasquali/) seems to be dead. What a shame! Dr. Pasquali, or anyone who knows his new web home, send me an update.
You can read about the Pumpkinseed At Rich Rahders' web site on the subject. Interesting guy! Interesting all-solar vehicle! (Those fins help speed it along if there is any non-frontal wind.) Thanks, Rich Rahders!
| Sealegs amphibious watercraft
From New Zealand, motorboats with retractable electric drive. Wooo! Their site is http://sealegs.co.nz/
R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Car.
| Model T Kit Tractor
Also at the Crown King Mine and Gost Town was this 1915 Ford Model T converted, according to the sign, to a farm tractor using a kit available back then. The front wheels are all steel with a large ridge in the middle for good mud and dirt steering. The rear wheel is almost a foot wide (under that sheet metal fender), and has large riveted traction teeth across it. Good load bearing (large surface area) but without losing traction. You have got to love a wood-frame vehicle!
Dave L. bought this sweet electric three-wheeler. What a pip! In a series of emails, we discover the nature of the Roadrunner Galaxie:
"I have just purchased an Electric three wheel vehicle called - Roadrunner
"It has places for 4 batteries. one on each side in the front and one behind each seat in the back.That makes a total of 4 Batteries. This is what makes me think that maybe it had 2 - 6volt and 2 - 12v batteries. The foot switch (speed control) has microswitchs that are actuated by a roller."
Links and further reading
There's a pretty darn good page out there called "Jim's Page for Three Wheeling Cars" at http://www.ccpc.net/~jaho/on3wheel.html He has three sections, classics, performance and micros. Good stuff!
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