Engineering Triumph: 1963 Triumph 3-Wheeler

041216 Barn Finds - 1963 Triumph Bonneville - 5

Thanks to Barn Finds fan and frequent tip-contributor, Jim S, for tracking down this 1963 Triumph Bonneville custom three-wheeler! This isn’t a kit nor is it a quickly-thrown-together project. The owner and fabricator of this three-wheeler had an idea in 1969 to put a dragster front end onto a motorcycle so it’s been almost 50-years in the making. I know, right? And you thought that I was wacky? This will be a love it or hate it project, there is no question about it.

041216 Barn Finds - 1963 Triumph Bonneville - 3

This finely-crafted piece of motorcycle art is located in beautiful Charlevoix, Michigan. Even though the designer, owner, and ultimately the seller, of this engineering Triumph has had it on his mind for almost half-a-century, now he has it up for sale. It has to be like selling a family member after being attached to this idea for that long.

041216 Barn Finds - 1963 Triumph Bonneville - 1

This will sure stand out in the crowd; any crowd. If you could somehow work up enough intestinal fortitude to drive this to Sturgis be prepared to be one of the star attractions. Bonus: this is most likely too big, bulky, and heavy to pick up and put in the back of a pickup and make off with it; not that anything like that ever happens there. You can see that even the Triumph Bonneville portion of this ride is custom, but look at that cool dragster front clip!

041216 Barn Finds - 1963 Triumph Bonneville - 2

Boom, there it is! Yes, this is one unusual idea, and one unusual execution of that unusual idea. But, the craftsmanship appears to be top notch here. The gentleman says that even though it’s been on his mind since 1969, “ten years ago I began in earnest to make it a reality and eventually did. The front axle, front frame and body were constructed in my garage.” A tip of the hat, sir. Whether you like this funky bike/trike or not, it is one nice piece of work. Personally, I’d much rather have both a Triumph motorcycle and a dragster, but that’s just me.

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You have to admit that this is a pretty cool view here. The seller says that this bike is a fully “restored 1963 TR6. Dual carbs and manifold makes it essentially a T120.” This custom creation is listed on eBay with a price of $15,000! Like it or not, this is a super creative work of art. Would you ride this three-wheeler or would you rather have a regular Triumph motorcycle?

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Comments

  1. Van

    I’d never make it past the first turn before I got killed. Jeremy Clarkson drove the three wheeler slower than me and we saw how well that went.

    • Dean

      Firstly, Jeremy Clarkson is an idiot. Secondly, he was driving a Robin and while it is a tricycle it has one wheel in front rather than two as on this outfit. Thirdly, as widely reported, the Robin was loaded with off balance weights in order to generate an amusing story, which leads inevitably back to point #1. Having said all that, at one time I owned and rode a 1968 Triumph 650 Bonneville and seeing this bastardization of that beautiful classic bike makes me cringe. I do, however, have to admire the ingenuity and apparent craftsmanship that went in to this project.

    • Cody

      That was a reliant robin. One wheel up front doing the steering. This is more like a can-am motorcycle. I believe it would be far more difficult to roll. Unless you drive in reverse really fast and try to turn. I wonder if it even has a reverse.

      It’s kind of cool. Looks kind of goofy from the side. It would help a lot if there were fenders on those front tires. For both looks and safety. You might take a few rocks in the chin the way it’s set up now.

  2. Joe Nose

    all it needs is a two-wheeled trailer and it becomes a five-wheeled….mess?

    • brakeservo

      Why would you call this a mess – While I prefer my motorcycles with only two wheels, I once had one with four! See photo.

  3. brakeservo

    Actually, it’s merely the predecessor of the Can-Am Spyder . . . and better looking too!

    • Keruth

      I thought Morgan.
      And it’s English to boot!
      +1 to Cody on fenders out there, with lights!

  4. Howard A Member

    Never cared for 3 wheelers, except for a disabled person who can’t put their feet down. Never liked the fact 1 tire is always riding in the “oil strip”. ( where all the nails and junk nobody else runs over is). Looks like a lot of work here. I believe Harley beat them all with the “Penster”, which never made it to production. I did see one at the Harley museum in Milwaukee. http://thekneeslider.com/images/2011/08/penster-rf.jpg

    • Brakeservo

      Riding or driving a three- wheeler doesn’t condem the center wheel to the oil strip – modern traffic lanes are too wide for that and most drivers are pretty sloppy with their lane placement anyway. But – related story; friend from Germany said they called Isettas Dog Squashers because if the widely spaced front wheels didn’t get em, the narrow spaced rear wheels would!

  5. Newport Pagnell

    Was the Igloo his inspiration?

  6. Mike C

    waste of a good Bonneville / Trophy. I would take it back to the bike version. I am now a triker with a V8 Rover engined trike – so like trikes – but not this well engineered version.

  7. Barry T

    There is a nice Triumph hiding in there anyway. the extra stuff just makes it look a bit goofy.

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      I agree. What a terrible thing to do to a classic Trumpet. Why…why…why…

  8. ClassicCarFan

    Yes, nicely executed but I can’t help thinking “why?”
    I guess trikes are all about the fun of building something custom for the sake of building it, and somehow expressing your individuality by creating something unique? but in terms of a vehicle, they are pretty pointless aren’t they?

    All the disadvantages of a motorcycle, lack of weather protection, limited seating capacity and carry capacity, poor crash protection…. and none of the advantages or a motorcycle – considerably slower than the original motorcycle, handles nothing like a motorcycle, no longer agile or nimble in traffic, no longer small enough to park in small spaces….

    @Dean. I couldn’t agree more. Top Gear is just an updated “Three Stooges” for modern times. Great TV, great entertainment if you take it for what it is – slapstick comedy, but not really a “car” show. The stunts are largely staged or faked (as with the Robin Reliant tipping) the jokes and banter scripted. Good for a low-brow laugh, but you can’t expect to learn much about the cars. Sadly, if you read the comments on a site like this whenever some 70s British car comes up for discussion it is pretty obvious that some folks have gained their knowledge of these cars entirely on what they heard on Top Gear.

    Yes, Clarkson is a jerk. Can’t blame him. He’s paid to be obnoxious and say something controversial every now and then. That’s his gimmick, his schtick and it’s made him a very successful and wealthy TV celebrity.

  9. Van

    Tiff needel almost crash a Morgan, I’m still thinking self preservation.
    I do have one thing in common with Jeremy C. My wife said stop telling everyone your an idiot. That’s true, most people will figure that out on their own.

  10. Alan (Michigan)

    Add your own bike:

    http://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/mcy/5511477344.html

    More racy in appearance, with a style which allows for two persons? Not sure which seat has the controls, LOL

    • George

      Seats 3! One in front, two on the back seat!

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