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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.