How would you like to drive a vehicle that is fun to drive and still has great performance and mileage? You don't have to give up one to get the other! With lightweight and low drag aerodynamics, you can have both. With a 25 gallon fuel tank and up to 80 mpg, you would have a maximum range of 2,000 miles. You could drive coast to coast and only need to stop once to fuel up. For commuting at 50 mpg, you would have a range of 1,250 miles. If you're traveling 50 miles per day, you would have enough fuel for 25 days. Fill up once a month.
The TriVette Two is offered in kit form to keep the costs down. The kits start at $12,500, and include all of the pieces you'll need, except for the parts that come from a donor vehicle. You should be able to buy a donor vehicle for about $2,500, so for approximately $15,000 you will have a complete, fully operational, very high performance, stable and excellent handling open motorcycle. Most other three-wheeled motorcycles are based upon conversions of motorcycles, so you end up with a trike that has too much of the weight on the single front tire, not enough on the two rear tires that have to handle the cornering forces, a narrow rear track, and a high center of gravity--bad physics. Of course they are going to be unstable and easy to flip over. Motorcycle parts are two to three times as expensive as comparable car parts. With the TriVette Two approach you are using much lower cost automotive based parts, and you have a much lower center of gravity, a proper front-to-rear weight balance, and a much wider track. Our original first generation design, the TriVette, that we built in 1974-1978 could out corner a Corvette at that time by 10% (0.77 lateral "g" vs. .70), and it still had about a .5 "g" safety margin before reaching the tip over limit of 1.28 lateral "g". You won't get that with any of the motorcycle based trike conversions. They are inherently unstable and dangerous. When you are ready, you can buy body parts from us, or you can build parts of your own design.
We have received many requests recently from people who are looking for used TriVettes. Unfortunately, they have become extremely rare and are now collector vehicles. The Vigillante is too expensive for most people to use as a daily driver, so we are currently developing the TriVette Two as a low-cost alternative. The TriVette Two is our fourth generation design, and utilizes many of the design approaches from both the original TriVette and from the Vigillante. From the rear bulkhead forward ( the back of the passenger compartment ), the TriVette Two is very similar to the Vigillante. It is designed to have the hip, elbow, shoulder, head and legroom of the Vigillante so the driver has the space and comfort of a luxury sedan. The driver's seat on the TriVette Two is much more comfortable and spacious than the driver's seat in the original TriVette. And, like the Vigillante, the tub is an all-aluminum structure for lightweight and extreme resistance to corrosion. Under normal use, the tub should last for decades. The front subframe, steering and front suspension are nearly identical to the Vigillante. From the rear bulkhead back, we use the TriVette philosophy of incorporating the entire drivetrain from an existing vehicle. The drivetrain is attached to a standardized rear subframe that bolts to the back of the tub. This modular design approach allows a lot of flexibility in the use of a wide range of powertrains. Some customers will undoubtedly want to adapt other powertrains to the standardized rear subframe.
We have evaluated many different options for possible donor vehicles. We were looking for options that would provide a wide range of choices in the tradeoffs between extreme fuel economy to extreme performance. High performance requires lots of horsepower, and lots of horsepower requires lots of fuel. High performance and high mileage tend to be mutually exclusive, but light weight ( low mass ) helps to accomplish both goals. After much analysis, we have selected the following options:
(1) Honda Civic ( '92 thru 95, 5th generation )
(2) VW Golf ( 3rd generation )
(3) Ford Taurus ( 3.0 liter V6 )
(4) Cadillac NorthStar V8
(5) Small Block 350 Chevy
These five powertrain options cover the entire range of the performance / economy spectrum.
There is a wide range of Honda Civic motors available. The early motors were 1,500 cc. The later motors are 1,600 cc, some with VTEC heads, and the DOHC VTEC from the Si model. The later motors range from 106 hp to 160 hp. The VW Golf also has a nice range of engines available. The standard 2.0 liter four cylinder will make a great motor for the TriVette Two. If you want even higher mileage, VW also uses a 90 hp, 1.9 liter turbo diesel (TDI) in the Golf and Jetta that will fit into the TriVette Two. If you want more power, VW offers the 2.8 liter VR6. The VR6 is a real screamer, and is rated at 174 hp. The 3.0 liter Taurus V6 would be appropriate where the customer wants a larger displacement, high torque, inexpensive American based powertrain. It will add some weight, compared to the Honda or VW powertrains. The fourth option is the Cadillac NorthStar V8. What a fabulous piece of engineering work, and as a transverse powertrain, it will easily fit into the engine compartment. The fifth option will be the small block 350 Chevy. That option will continue to be called the Vigillante, even though it uses the same tub and front section as the TriVette Two. This very wide range of powertrain options goes all the way from the lowest performance, highest mileage VW TDI diesel to the totally outrageous, mileage-be-damned Vigillante. That should be enough to satisfy almost everyone. As a small company, we can only do one at a time, so which one should we do first?
We believe that the optimum choice for the first powertrain is the Honda Civic. They are absolutely fabulous motors - powerful, free revving, fuel-efficient, and bulletproof. They are the top choice of the import tuners, and many high performance parts are available. Because the TriVette Two is so light ( under 1,200 pounds with the Civic powertrain ), the performance will be very good. At less than half the weight of the stock Civic, the TriVette Two will be twice as quick on acceleration. The original TriVette weighed in at 1,140 pounds with a 903 cc Fiat motor that developed about 50 hp. It was quick in traffic ( 0 - 60 in about 9 seconds ), and it got 50 mpg in heavy city traffic, and 65 - 70 on the freeway. All that with only 50 horsepower, and a motor design that dates back to the '50s. With the 106 hp standard Honda Civic motor, it will be much faster than the original TriVette, and it will also be more fuel efficient because current computer controlled, fuel injected motors are much more efficient than the '50s technology Fiat motor with a two barrel Weber carb. It will make one heck of a commuter. With the 127 hp VTEC motor, it will have a horsepower to weight ratio of under 10, about the same as a Corvette - you know that will be quick. With the 160 hp DOHC VTEC motor, it will have a horsepower to weight ratio of about 7.5. That's getting into the crotch rocket class--seriously fast. If that's not quick enough for you, look at the list of the other powertrain options. We will build other engine subframes based upon customer demand, so let us know which one you would like to have next.
As we said at the beginning of this section, the TriVette Two kit includes everything you will need, except the parts you will use from the donor vehicle. The passenger tub is an extremely light weight, all aluminum structure that is fully fabricated and assembled. The tub is based upon four lightweight, thin-wall, dual wall, extremely rigid, large diameter, aluminum tube assemblies. Aluminum end plates are welded to these tube assemblies, and then they are filled with foam to make them even more rigid and resistant to side impact crashes to protect the occupants. Then they are then bolted to the front and rear aluminum bulkheads, and the aluminum floor skins with stiffeners are added. All of the aluminum parts are treated for corrosion resistance. On the base kit, the side panels between the tube assemblies are left open to minimize weight and costs, and to provide the open air motorcycle type of experience. If you want to enclose your vehicle as an all-weather commuter, we can supply the side panels and all the body parts at additional cost. See the price breakdown table for the specific costs. This tub is fully assembled on fixtures at the factory to insure that it is all correctly aligned. If the tub is not precisely aligned, nothing else is going to fit on it correctly. The tub is the foundation for the rest of the vehicle. The standard front seat uses the driver's seat from the Civic. The standard rear seat uses the passenger's front seat from the Civic. Of course, you can use aftermarket parts if you want. We supply a custom aluminum fuel tank that installs behind the passengers' seat. The steering wheel and column, along with the column-mounted controls from the Civic, are bolted into the TriVette Two using a tube frame support. The central instrument cluster from the Civic is installed into our dash panel. We also supply additional switches that will be required, along with a wiring harness to wire up the dash to the engine compartment, and the parts required for the brake and throttle pedals. Initially, we will only be using the automatic transmission versions of the Civic powertrains. The manual transmission versions may come later, depending on the complexity required to get the proper linkage.
The front subframe is a mild steel tubular subassembly that bolts to the front of the tub. The steering head is part of that subassembly. We supply the steering gear box ( a non-power recirculating ball unit that is specifically selected for the TriVette Two application), along with the drag link and pitman arm. The down tube and the leading link are both light weight mild steel tube assemblies. We supply the coil over shocks ( dual ), the axle with spacers and hardware, the hub, and a stock Civic vented front rotor. The wheel and tire come from one of the rear wheel/tire assemblies of the donor Civic. That completes the front section.
For the rear section, we supply the welded mild steel tubular rear subframe that bolts to the back of the tub, and all of the tubular links and brackets that are required to connect to the Civic powertrain assembly. To minimize the cost and labor for the customer, we utilize the entire front end of the Civic. After connecting the support links and brackets to the front end of the Civic, the Civic sheet metal will be cut off at the base of the windshield, down both sides behind the wheel wells, and across the bottom. The instruction manual describes exactly how to do this. The use of this existing sheet metal structure allows us to take advantage of this very complex and expensive component that ties all of the mechanical parts together. This sheet metal structure required many millions of dollars to design, develop, and manufacture. We get to reuse it for almost nothing. Of course, you will want to select a donor vehicle that has not sustained damage to the front of the vehicle. Pick one that has been hit in the rear, if possible, or on the sides to the extent that the engine compartment has not been distorted. This approach saves many hours of unbolting all of the components from the engine compartment of the Civic and swapping them into a separate tubular steel subframe. It will weigh slightly more than a tubular steel subframe, but it is far less expensive. You will use the engine, automatic transmission, final drive, axles with CV joints, suspension components, rotors/calipers, and wheel/tire pieces exactly as they were on the stock Civic. All the plumbing and wiring and other parts under the hood are left just as they were. Some of the pieces on the firewall will be removed and changed. We believe this is the optimum balance in terms of cost, labor, and weight. All that is left to do is to hook up the throttle, brakes, and controls, and you're ready to drive. Everything will be in the stock locations, so it should be easy to service by anyone familiar with the Civic.
If you want the body parts, the tub will use the same canopy as the Vigillante. The canopy can be removed and left at home if you want to drive your TriVette Two as an open motorcycle. Or you can remove the side windows to get lots of fresh air. The lower body panels on the tub will be slightly different than the Vigillante, but will have nearly the same appearance. They are also removable. One option for the nose will be essentially identical to the Vigillante. Other options will be available in the future for customers who want a shorter, less vulnerable nose for city driving. The rear bodywork will utilize separate pieces for each side that attach to the sides of the Civic sheet metal. The rear fenders include headlights and driving/pencil beams on the front surface, and tail/stop, turning lights on the rear surface. All of the body parts can be attached or removed just like a racecar. They are not structural. They are for aerodynamics, weather protection, and appearance. If a part is damaged, it's a simple matter to remove it and replace or repair it.
There are many optional parts available for those people who want them. We don't include them in the standard kit because they add weight (and reduce performance), cost, and complexity. A heater is available, as well as air conditioning, a windshield wiper for the canopy, radios, CD's, etc. Most people would prefer to select and install these locally so they get exactly what they want. If you want us to supply them for you, we will be glad to provide you with a quote. Also, if you don't have the time, space, tools or ability to assemble your TriVette Two, let us know. We will try to put you in touch with one of our dealers or an independent operator in your area who is qualified to assemble it for you.
If you would like to reserve a place in the production sequence, call me soon. We will only build 10 to 12 chassis in the first batch, and I believe those will be spoken for very quickly. The second batch probably won't be started for about another year. We look forward to talking with you soon. As always, your 10% deposit will be strictly held in an escrow account at a local bank until production begins.
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