assembly-line production. So in 1978 he closed the plant,
laid off his dozen workers and went back to the lab.
However, the speedy TriVette had spawned another,
highly unlikely, project. The late '70s had seen the dawn of the affordable
muscle car, and in California the Highway Patrol was starting to have real
trouble catching teenagers in souped-up Camaros and Mustangs. The CHiPS
cops had Dodge Diplomats then, which would struggle to reach 105mph, and
their Harley ElectraGlide bikes would go into a scary speed wobble at about
the same velocity. If some loon in a
hot Chevy hurtled past at 150mph, there was nothing the boys
in blue could do.
So one far-sighted officer asked Bob to design a
high - speed pursuit vehicle. It had to do 165mph . . . and nobody said
it couldnt have three wheels.
But after Bob had worked on it for two years and produced a prototype that
met all the CHiPS specifications, the project was canned.
"I couldnt say why, he remarks with a wry glint,
but all of a sudden, Ford had this high-speed pursuit car delivered to the
Sadly, we were never to be treated to the sight
of a blue-clad Highway
Patrolman doing 160mph, siren wailing, in a space-age three-wheeler.
But that prototype formed the basis of Bobs current project the Vigillante.
The Vigillante, or Vig, is subtly described by Bob as the quickest, fastest,
meanest street-legal production vehicle in the world. Good grief.
It certainly sounds like it, though. A sneaky interpretation
of the construction and use regulations means the Vig is classed as a motorcycle.
Which means no expensive crash - testing, no airbags, no seatbelts. . .
and no silencers. Harleys, and all American-built motorcycles are exempt
from emissions and
noise laws. And so is the Vig - its 5.7 - litre Chevy V8's
exhaust ports are connected to the open air by nothing more than a bit of
pipe. Loud isnt good enough. Deafening is a bit mild.|
And then theres the way it looks. If Gerry Anderson had designed cars to
fit real people instead of Joe 90, he would have come up with something
similar. The old TriVette, one of which rots gently in Bob's garden, was
striking in a curvy, wacky, hey man, groovy' kind of way. The Vig, all 204
inches thats 17 feet of it, is life-threateningly startling. In red, it
looks merely astonishing; in black, with tinted