One less wheel doesn’t make these rides less fun to drive

Three-wheeled vehicles remain novelties in the automotive world, but there’s no mistaking that these gimp-legged cars have gained popularity in recent years. From companies like Morgan to Campagna to lesser-known firms like MEV and Elio, it’s hard not to look at these three-wheeled vehicles and see them as nothing more than fad cars.

The truth is some three-wheeled cars have established fan bases by offering something different than what most car customers are accustomed to. Some of the three-wheelers in this list never made it to production, but some have become people-pleasers in their own right. Whatever their status, they all share one thing in common: we’d love to drive them.

Campagna T-Rex

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Disregard its egg-shaped look for a second and give the Campagna T-Rex the respect it deserves. This Canadian-born three-wheeler not only carries a menacing name, but it also performs like one. If you’re looking for a ferocious three-wheeler that can lay waste to all the lemmings in its path, the T-Rex is an appropriate choice.

It’s powered by a BMW-sourced 1.6-liter straight-six engine that produces 160 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. These figures don’t sound impressive, but, mind you, the T-Rex weighs only 1,199 pounds (544 kilos). This is a three-wheeler that boasts a power-to-weight ratio (US tonne) of 267 horsepower per ton. Not too bad for a three-wheeler that costs around $70,000, right?

2010 Campagna T-Rex 14RR Exterior
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Campagna T-Rex specifications
Engine: BMW-sourced 1.6-liter straight-six engine
Horsepower: 160 horsepower
Torque: 129 pound-feet
0 to 60 MPH: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 157 mph
Curb weight: 1,199 pounds
Power-to-weight ratio: 267

Read our full review on the Campagna T-Rex

Polaris Slingshot

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Did you know that the Polaris Slingshot is officially classified as a motorcycle despite having one extra wheel? It seems strange for a vehicle that looks more like a track racer to be identified as a motorcycle, but, rest assured, your misgivings over its classification will be eviscerated once you take the Slingshot for a ride. It’s appropriately named, that much we can say. The Slingshot utilizes a General Motors-sourced 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine that produces a scintillating 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. The Slingshot is fast and powerful. It also looks like a Decepticon, but none of that changes the fact that the Slingshot is capable of incredible performance numbers. Imagine driving this knowing that it’s faster than a lot of today’s more potent sports cars.

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Polaris Slingshot specifications
Engine: GM-sourced 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 173 horsepower
Torque: 166 pound-feet
0 to 60 MPH: 5.5 seconds
Top Speed: 124 mph
Curb weight: 1,640 pounds (744 kilos)
Power-to-weight ratio: 211

Read our full review on the Polaris Slingshot

Volkswagen GX3

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Not all three-wheelers in this list ended up in the market. The Volkswagen GX3 is an example of that.

First shown at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, the GX3 marked Volkswagen’s initial foray into the world of three-wheeled vehicles. The GX3 looked really cool in concept form and it also came with impressive power and performance figures, highlighted by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque.

VW even claimed the concept could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 125 mph. Alas, Volkswagen’s best-laid plans never amounted to anything real. The GX3 was eventually scrapped in part due to liability concerns. It’s a pity considering that the GX3 was supposed to carry a price tag of just $17,000.

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Volkswagen GX3 specifications
Engine: 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 120 horsepower
Torque: 112 pound-feet
0 to 60 MPH: 5.7 seconds
Top Speed: 125 mph
Curb weight: 1,256 pounds (570 kilos)
Power-to-weight ratio: 191

Read our full review on the Volkswagen GX3

Marotti

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It’s hard to make out what the Marotti is like. On the one hand, it looks like an angry soapbox with mean eyes and two large fins at the back. On the other hand, the Marotti’s mean mug isn’t there for just show-and-tell purposes.

The three-wheeler initially came with a pedestrian 0.75-liter Honda V4 engine, but the Poland-based company has since doubled up on the Marottie’s power and performance capabilities with a 1.4-liter engine that can produce as much as 190 horsepower.

It’s believed that the Marotti can hit 60 mph from an idle position in just five seconds before peaking at a top speed of 118 mph. Those are impressive figures for a three-wheeler, let alone one that looks like the Marotti.

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Marotti specifications
Engine: 1.4-liter engine
Horsepower: 190 horsepower
Torque: n/a
0 to 60 MPH: 5 seconds (est.)
Top Speed: 118 mph
Curb weight: n/a
Power-to-weight ratio: n/a

Elio P5

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Sometimes, even the best-laid plans are no match to the financial restrictions of the business world. The Elio Motors P5 is a good example of this. Unveiled in 2015, the P5 looked every bit like a funky three-wheeled car. The fenders and the two front wheels jutted out from the rest of the car’s body, looking like limbs in the process. The sharp nose gave it a sports car vibe and it had the profile of a full-fledged car, at least if you ignore the fact that it had just one wheel at the back.

The P5 didn’t have a workhorse engine to deal with — it came with a 0.9-liter unit that produced 70 horsepower, good enough to hit 60 mph from an idle position in under 10 seconds — but it did boast the kind of fuel economy — 84 mpg — that got a lot of people’s attention.

Unfortunately, financial constraints prevented the P5 from hitting the market. It’s unfortunate since the three-wheeler reportedly came with a sticker price of just $6,800. That would’ve made it the cheapest model in this list.

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Elio Motors P5 specifications
Engine: 0.9-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 70 horsepower
Torque: n/a
0 to 60 MPH: 10 seconds (est.)
Top Speed: n/a
Curb weight: 1,350 pounds (610 kilos)
Power-to-weight ratio: 104

Peugeot Egochine

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One look at the Peugeot Egochine and our thoughts immediately went to the Gillette Fusion razor. Turns out, we weren’t alone with that sentiment. Paolo De Giusti, the man behind this concept, admitted to identifying the popular razor blade as the muse behind the Egochine.

It’s a three-wheel car, sure, but it’s also a giant razor with fancy LED lights, massive wheels tucked under curved fenders, and aggressive retro-futuristic styling.

Unfortunately, the Peugeot Egochine isn’t an actual production vehicle. It never event as far as the deliberation process. The concept was De Giusti’s entry to one of Peugeot’s design contests back in 2010, where he made it as a finalist. That’s a victory in it of itself.

MEV TRIKE

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Unlike a lot of the other three-wheelers in this list, the MEV TRIKE is a do-it-yourself build that will test your understanding of building kit cars from the ground up.

It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you have the wherewithal — and patience — to take on this challenge, you’ll find something refreshing about taking a kit car and building and customizing it to your own taste. You can even set up your TRIKE to carry around 235 horsepower from either of the Suzuki or Yamaha crate engines that the kit came with. Best of all, the kit costs just a little over $20,000. Granted, that’s a lot of money for some people, but if you have disposal income, you can take a stab at building your own MEV TRIKE and see how far and how fast it takes you.

MEV TRIKE specifications
Engine: Suzuki or Yamaha crate engine
Horsepower: 150 to 235 horsepower
Torque: n/a
0 to 60 MPH: n/a
Top Speed: n/a
Curb weight: n/a
Power-to-weight ratio: n/a

XR3

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The XR3 is a unique three-wheeler in a sea of unique three-wheelers. Created by Robert Q. Riley Enterprises, the XR3 isn’t something that you simply buy from the company and drive home with it. The XR3 is built from plans with the parts sourced by the builder. Plan prices range from $99.50 to $200, and you are free to install whatever electric motor or engine you want.

In its conventional form, the XR3 uses a plug-in hybrid setup that, according to its designer, can run up to 125 mpg on diesel alone and a whopping 255 mpg if you combine the diesel engine with an electric motor.

It’s a sophisticated build, that much we can say. But the payoffs could be huge, especially if you’re the type who knows how to make chicken salad from chicken soup, or at least in this case, a hybrid three-wheeler from scratch.

Higgins-Aube Energya

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The Higgins-Aube Energya belongs in the same category as the Volkswagen GX3. Like the VW concept, the Canadian-born Energya was supposed to be a significant offering in the world of three-wheeled vehicles, or “mobomobile,” as the company referred it. We could just call it a 3-wheel motorcycle car, too. Who’s keeping score anyway, right?

Unfortunately, the Energya never made it past the concept phase, and, to this day, it remains a pipe dream among those who like these sorts of rides. It’s a shame, too, because Higgins-Aube made big promises when it announced the Energya, including the three-wheeler’s supposed ability to split 60 mph in under four seconds. As impressive as that sounds, we’ll never find out if Higgins-Aube’s claims had any truth to them or if those performance numbers are nothing but smoke.

Read our full review on the Higgins-Aube Energya

Morgan Three-Wheeler

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As this list has shown, there are a lot of three-wheelers in the market today. None of them, though, can hold a candle to the Morgan 3-Wheeler.

By far the most prominent three-wheeler in the market, the Morgan 3-Wheeler arrived in 2012, and, to this day, it remains available in the market.

Morgan even added the EV3 in 2016, providing customers the opportunity to opt for an electric version of the funky ride. The OG 3-Wheeler is powered by a 1998cc V-Twin engine that produces 82 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. It’s not much compared to what other three-wheelers are packing, but the Morgan weighs just 1,157 pounds (525 kilos). Despite the engine’s pedestrian output, the 3-Wheeler can still go.

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Morgan 3-Wheeler specifications
Engine: 1998cc V-Twin engine
Horsepower: 82 horsepower
Torque: 103 pound-feet
0 to 60 MPH: 4.5 seconds (est)
Top Speed: 115 mph (est)
Curb weight: 1,157 pounds (525 kilos)
Power-to-weight ratio: 142

Read our full review on the Morgan Three-Wheeler

How much is a 3-wheel car?

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The price of 3-wheel cars vary depending on the company that sells them. There are kit cars that cost less than $10,000, but you’re in charge of actually building the car from the ground up. If you don’t want that hassle, you can buy one from the factory from companies like Morgan and Campagna. The Morgan 3 Wheeler, for example, sells for around $45,000 while the Campagna T-Rex sells for an insane $70,000.

What is a 3 wheel car?

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A 3 wheel car is, in its basic form, a car with three wheels. Some three-wheelers are also considered tricycles, which is why they’re classified legally as motorcycles.

Are 3-wheel cars fast?

Yes, 3-wheel cars are fast, or at least those with a decent engine powering them. These engines don’t produce gob smack levels of power, but thanks to the weight of these vehicles, 3-wheelers return around the same amount of power-to-weight ratio as a lot of today’s established performance cars.

Are 3-wheel cars safe?

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By virtue of their physical makeup and the absence of any safety equipment that cars typically have, 3-wheelers are considered more dangerous than actual cars.

How many companies make 3-wheel cars?

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There are several companies that build three-wheeled vehicles. Companies like Morgan and Campagna built their identities on the back of three-wheeled vehicles like the 3-Wheeler and the T-Rex. Other less established firms have also dipped their toes in the market, including Polaris and MEV.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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