Morgan 3 Wheeler


What has five gears, two cylinders, and three wheels? An extra hint, Jay Leno has one in his garage, painted like a World War II Spitfire. It's the Morgan 3 Wheeler of course, a unique British car which, in the U.S., has to be registered as a motorcycle. In fact, it was born of the British penchant for unusual engineering combined with a desire to avoid the tax on four-wheel cars. It draws attention wherever it goes for its body which looks a bit like a canoe on wheels. As one test driver noted, though, people quickly note that it's lightweight and has a strong engine and start asking about performance. How fast can that three-wheeler go?

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So, how fast can that three-wheeled car go?

Morgan claims that, besides burning a bit of rubber quite easily at stop lights, the 3 Wheeler will get to 60 from zero in 6 seconds, and continue up to 115 mph. Even without considering the car's design that's a pretty decent set of numbers. How the Morgan 3 Wheeler achieves them, however, is a bit unusual.

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What's the powertrain for the Morgan 3 Wheeler?

It has a 1979cc, 82 horsepower S&S V-Twin motorcycle engine for power, a Mazda five-speed manual transmission, and then belt-drive to the rear wheel. Singular, as in one wheel. The power to weight ratio is what makes this odd assembly of equipment really shine.

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How's the steering?

Without power steering, the large wooden steering wheel provides a comfortable way to navigate winding roads, but a bit of a struggle for parallel parking.

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Is it a practical car to own?

The original Morgan of 1911 was invented and marketed largely as a practical car to drive every day. It still provides excellent personal transportation in its 21st-century version, and one reviewer saw another Morgan vehicle in a restaurant parking lot along the California coast. Some might disagree about the practicality, though, especially if the weather turns harsh or cold.

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How does it handle and ride? Is it for city traffic only or a nice ride in the country?

The 92-inch wheelbase and 126-inch length help focus handling and provide a more relaxed response to road bumps. It gets around the city with precision, but with a bit of drift around the turns, the Morgan 3 Wheeler is fun to drive a bit exuberantly in the country. That's really what the car is for -- it's a vehicle born completely of the desire to enjoy driving it.

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