Three-wheeled cars (I): some you will love and others you will burn

9 Aug

 

Three-wheelers have always had a certain appeal. Some of these orphan creations of a wheel enjoyed remarkable success, while others were epic failures. Others did not even materialize in a final product and only exist in the museums with the slightest memory. However, the futuristic lines of certain models make us wonder if the paradigm shift from four to three wheels could be a real alternative to the future of transport. During the 70s and 80s, these vehicles were very popular, especially in English lands. And they could drive with a motorcycle license and were significantly cheaper to acquire and maintain than their counterparts with four supports. In contrast, most were impractical in terms of space, unstable and disastrous in many general lines. That said, the concept, although now unpopular, continues to be present in some fantastic products. Technology has evolved enough to make these “tricycles” safer, more efficient, faster and, above all, fun machines. As we will see now, our selections have a little bit of everything:

Campagna T-Rex

Let’s start strong. The Campagna T-Rex is a three wheeler whose aggressive insect aspect is already a declaration of intent. But it is not only imposing what our eyes see, but also what is under the skin. Its tubular steel skeleton has welcomed multiple hearts throughout its life (1994-2018) and, without a doubt the most notable was the last one: a six-cylinder inline of BMW origin. With a displacement of 1.65 liters, this engine is used by BMW Motorrad in a K1600. It is a block capable of delivering 160 РЗ at 7,750 rpm and a maximum torque of 174 Nm from 5,250 rpm. In addition, it had adjustable suspension, high-performance braking system and numerous aluminum and carbon fiber components to keep the weight as small as possible.

Mazda K360

Three-wheelers, for the most part, are small cars, impractical if we need to load them. But what if a tricycle-truck is made? That’s what Mazda thought when the K360 reached the streets of Japan in 1959. And it was a success. It soon became one of the most popular commercial means of transport in the country thanks to its excellent maneuverability in the narrow streets and its high load capacity. Unlike what had existed until then, the Mazda K360 offered a steering wheel instead of a handlebar, a windshield and a relatively large cabin, with two seats, two doors and their corresponding windows. Its impulse was entrusted to a two-cylinder engine located under the ass of the passengers. With 300 cc, delivered 11 HP and a mass of 485 kg, it was enough to reach 65 km/h top speed.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Without this vehicle, we would never have conceived the car. The first car equipped with an internal combustion engine only had three wheels. It was the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, built in 1885 by Karl Benz, one of the founders of Mercedes-Benz. Its four-stroke single-cylinder engine barely cubed 1.0 liter, and could generate 0.66 HP of power. For its time it was an extremely light block, despite marking close to a hundred kilos on the scale. In its latest evolution, with 2 HP, the vehicle managed to reach 16 km / h, a great achievement. In 1887, the set was improved with the addition of wooden spokes, a fuel tank and a drum brake (using leather shoes) to stop the rear wheels.