Is it a car? A motorcycle? Provo, Utah- based Vanderhall – a company we'd previously not heard of – calls it an auto-cycle.
The company says it's been developing its Venice and Laguna models for seven years. The first prototype was powered by a Kawasaki ZX-10R engine, the second by a Yamaha R1. Version three saw a Rotax powerplant with reverse gear, and the first side-by-side iteration in 2012 adopted the GM 1.4-liter turbo four.
(Author’s note: Vehicle classifications aside, please don’t call them reverse trikes. Just because our childhood tricycles had the solo wheel in front is no justification for calling motorized three-wheelers “reversed.” Proper would be a better term. My own word for engine-driven trikes with one wheel in front is "Misguided." Literally.)
With a look reminiscent of the old British Morgans, the base model Vanderhall Venice weighs in at 1375 pounds (623 kilograms) dry. It features a six-speed automatic transmission, heated seats, 18-inch wheels, 600-watt BT sound system, and a wooden steering wheel. A deposit of $250 will ensure delivery to a dealership in Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Tampa Bay or... Dubai. Total cost starts at $29,950; for comparison, the base model Polaris Slingshot, which has a 2.4-liter four, is $22,000, and the top end SLR is $28,500.
Moving upscale, the Laguna model gets a hand-laid carbon fiber body, which adds $20,000 to the showroom price. The Laguna Sport Premium adds air conditioning (!), four premium leather combinations, deluxe black wool carpets, 19- or 20-inch wheels, flat bottom steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, premium sound system, carbon fiber shift knob, and adjustable suspension damping. At $58,850.
But wait there’s more. The Laguna Bespoke Motoring Experience model features paddle shifters, heated and air-conditioned seats (!!), custom color body/fender/grill combos, more wheel selections, Toyo R888 tires, and standard naked carbon inner doors, door sills, engine cover, steering wheel cover, console and dash trim.
“All-inclusive at $77,000. For the customer that wants what they want, how they want it," decries the Vanderhall website. “The race-inspired pushrod suspension is as unique as it is exotic. Its function enables a more compact body package while delivering in its ultimate goal of providing wonderful feel and precision in handling, cornering, and braking. Whether you choose the Laguna, the Laguna Sport Premium or go all out with the Bespoke Laguna, Vanderhall offers exclusivity, enjoyment, and excitement in excess - a return to the golden age of motoring.”
We will be following the growing field of three-wheeled vehicles, no matter what they are called, as the category grows more crowded and diverse.