It often seems to me that people at the turn of the 20th century had some much more vision and spirit than today's designers and engineers. Not that I am trying to take away from the accomplishments of the 21st century…but there is just something about the dawn of the motorcar that inspired thousands of people to take a chance and carve out a niche all their own.
Such was the case with Morgan, who from 1912 to 1952 built over 30,000 of its infamous threewheelers. Now Morgan, which is already planning a diesel-electric hybrid, might be bringing the Threewheeler back. I can dig it.
H.F.S. Morgan built his first threewheeler as a practical means of getting around, before eventually starting the Morgan Motor Company in 1912. Interest in his unique contraption was high, since it avoided the hefty motor car tax by being classified as a motorcycle. These peppy little trikes went on to win a number of races, including the 1913 Cyclecar Grand Prix in France. Yet despite being so fast, they still managed to get over 50 mpg at a time when most cars didn't top 15 mpg. These Morgans always maintained a racing heritage, though eventually the three-wheel design fell out of favor as more conventional four-wheel automobiles fell in price enough that the average Brit could purchase them.
However, Morgan could bring the Threewheeler back, this time powered by an 1800 cc “Screaming Eagle” V-Twin Harley Davidson engine making about 100 horsepower. Not a lot of power, right? Well consider that the Morgan's tubular frame design and use of lightweight materials keeps weight down to just under 1,100 pounds. That means this peppy three-wheeler could sprint from 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds, while returning excellent fuel economy. That is, if you can afford the estimated $72,000 price tag.
Ok, so this Threewheeler isn't likely to save the world anytime soon (though it looks frightfully fun). However, the idea of a cost-efficient threewheeler with seating for too, and space enough for some groceries or a couple of duffel bags sounds mighty tempting to me. Mayhaps Morgan will even make an electric one? Now that'd be awesome.
Chris DeMorro is a true gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.