Today’s Rare Ride is presented to you because I saw one in traffic on Wednesday. Unsure what the three-wheeled thing I saw was, I gave a vague description to Twitter and was informed almost immediately that what I’d seen was a Vanderhall Venice. Let’s learn some three-wheel car-bike things.
Rare Rides is not in the habit of covering three-wheeled vehicles (autocycles, if you like) and has done so only once prior via the garbage Pulse Litestar. Vanderhall has been much more successful in its autocycle attempts. Properly known as Vanderhall Motor Works, the small company was founded in 2010 in Provo, which is in Utah. Headed by founder and CEO Steve Hall, Vanderhall has (thus far) made only three-wheeled autocycles for track and road use. The first five years the company existed, it didn’t build anything at all. Hall, a professional CAD designer, spent the time developing prototypes.
In 2015 the company’s first car debuted and wore the name Laguna. The new two-seater wore simple bodywork and had an optional roof. It was classified as a motorcycle and went on sale in 2016. In three different trims, the Laguna was powered by a modified version of the 1.4-liter GM Ecoflex engine (180 HP) from the Chevy Cruze, and a six-speed automatic.
The next year the company’s second offering – Venice – was announced. It entered production in Utah in 2017, and remains on sale today. As a development on what the Laguna started, the Venice has an overall length of just 140.9 inches and a width of 70.1 inches. Strictly a paved road vehicle, Venice has just 3.94 inches of ground clearance. The whole package is just 44.1 inches tall. For reference, a Chevy Sonic (RIP) was 59.7 inches tall. Underneath the Venice uses an aluminum chassis, with a composite ABS plastic body on top.
The Venice continued initially with the 1.4-liter engine from the Laguna, but shortly thereafter made a switch to a 1.5-liter inline-four engine, also from GM. Still in use presently, the 1.5 has direct injection, variable valve timing, and a turbocharger. It’s good for 194 horsepower and is paired to a six-speed automatic. There are disc brakes at each wheel which can be upgraded to Brembos, as well as standard ABS. The suspension is a racy pushrod setup. The Venice is very lightweight at 1,465 pounds but does include niceties like a standard Bluetooth module, heated seats, and cruise control.
But there are no airbags and no roof. the Vanderhall qualifies as a three-wheel motorcycle according to the NHTSA but states here and there may call it a car, a motorcycle, or in 31 states, auto cycle. Owners may or may not need a helmet depending on the state. It’s in the narrow three-wheeled enthusiast vehicle segment with the very expensive Morgan 3 Wheeler ($45,000+) and the dorky Polaris Slingshot ($20,000+). Its pricing falls in the middle of those two, and ranges from $29,950 to $36,950 via three different trim levels.
The company introduced another variant of Venice in 2019, the more upscale Carmel. Sold alongside Venice, Carmel has the same power as but more luxurious features (like doors) and an optional removable canopy-type roof. Carmel starts where Venice pricing ends, and costs up to $47,000. Vanderhall is also working on EV three-wheelers and introduced an electric version of the Venice called Edison2 (not in production). There was also a Speedster version of the Venice that had only one seat.
Vanderhall’s first four-wheeled vehicle is in development and is an off-roading EV called the Brawley. As late as September last year the company called it the Navarro, but that name may have been just a bit too close to Nissan’s Navara pickup. Seating four, the Brawley promises 404 horsepower via an electric motor at each wheel, and a 200-mile range with prices starting at $34,950.
Reservations are open for the Brawley presently, and you can buy a Venice or Carmel from your local Vanderhall sales center.
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