QOTD: Three's Company, or a Crowd?
One man’s vision of untouchable beauty is another man’s 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, or something like that. Each one of us filters a fellow human’s or vehicle’s looks through a network of individual biases and neuroses to arrive at a verdict.
Dishy. Stunner. Sort-of cute. Dog. We’re a shallow species, and only a select few of us can see the beauty in everything.
If symmetry is indeed a key aspect of perceived beauty, then it explains the particular revulsion I feel with a certain class of vehicle, one which numerous upstart automakers seem intent on returning to our streets. If buyers are willing, of course.
I’m talking three-wheelers, and not those open-air Polaris and Campagna trikes with the 61-year-old driver behind the wheel. Upon viewing an offering (make that a would-be offering) from Elio or Electra Meccanica, yours truly is struck by the same feeling of something’s not right he felt while watching Goldmember hop into his Corbin Sparrow all those years ago.
Gesturing frantically at the backside of the car, I struggle to come to grips with the broad front end and teardrop ass of these closed-cabin three-wheelers. They look okay coming at you, then turn into a Stephen King novel going past. It’s a different story for fuselage-bodied open-top cars like the Morgan 3 Wheeler or Vanderhall Venice, both of which look pretty fetching.
There’s a practicality issue. Designed with low-cost, ultra-efficient commuting in mind, closed-cabin three-wheelers offer either a single chair or a 1+1 seating arrangement — limiting their role to that envisioned by the manufacturer. No work truck turned family sedan turned off-roader here. Regulations vary, too. Depending on jurisdiction, that three-wheeler could be classified as a motorcycle, requiring the driver obtain an additional license, an autocycle, or even a car. Things are falling into place for three-wheelers on that front, at least, which is great news for companies like Polaris.
But a Slingshot is a debatably fun plaything, not a Focus replacement. It ain’t a nerdy teardrop on three wheels.
As well, you may have noticed that gas remains cheap and very plentiful. It’s not hard to make the case for a low five-figure Mirage over a greener, high four-figure trike. So, will a mass-market three-wheeler ever take off in the United States, or will the vehicle type remain forever an oddity?
[Image: Electra Meccanica]
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