A Rare Bird: 1983 Trihawk 304

050816 Barn Finds - 1983 Trihawk 304 - 1

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

A Trihawk 304? You’re right, these are rare with less than 100 made. This 1983 Trihawk 304 is on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $12,500, but the current bid is only $590 with the reserve not met, of course. It’s located in Santee, California and there are 5 days left on the auction so you’ll have time to line up your airfare out there and drive this home. Don’t worry, there’s a top for it and it “fits on very easily, its not shrunk and can be installed in less than a minute.” Thanks to Jim S. for sending this tip in to us!

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These unusual 3-wheelers were first made in 1982 by Design Lab, Inc. in Illinois and then everything was moved to Dana Point, California in 1983 under the name Hawk Vehicles, Inc. They remained in California until 1985 when they were bought out by Harley-Davidson. What the Harley-Davidson connection had to do with these machines, either before or after that point, remains a mystery; at least to me it does. Maybe one of the Barn Finds readers will know? They supposedly only made 96 of these in total. The “304” part of the names means 3-wheels and 4-cylinder, in case you were wondering.

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This is one unusual-looking vehicle. Having two wheels in front definitely gives it more stability than if it were a single-wheel in the front. And, that’s not a Harley-Davidson engine poking out under there, it’s about as far removed from that is it gets!

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I don’t even see much of an engine under all of those hoses, shrouds, wires, shields, etc., but there is one! Any guesses what powers these Trihawks? Nope. Ha, no, not even close. No, you’re not even warm. This is actually an air-cooled, 4-cylinder 1,299cc engine from a Citroen GSA. I know, I never would have guessed that, either. Some of the front and rear suspension parts were from a Renault R5/Le Car, so there’s another extra dose of the odd and unusual here. This 3-wheeler has 67 hp which isn’t a heck of a lot, but this vehicle only weighs 1,370 pounds so that was enough to get along with your fellow commuters.

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These cars were so low and wide that they could out-corner the average Lamborghini Countach of the same era, reaching about 1G on the skidpad. That’s pretty impressive, especially for those folks who are instantly going to say that 3-wheelers are inherently prone to rolling over. Not this Trihawk. Speaking of this Trihawk, this is #26 of 96 made and pretty much everything is working great, but the gas gauge. And, it could use new tires just due to age. The seats are perfect, and yes, that’s a cell phone! I don’t know what era that’s from, I got my first cell phone in February of 1987 and I thought that was pretty early, this must be one that was added later. What are your thoughts on this Trihawk? Are any of you fans of 3-wheelers, even ones that can out-corner a Lamborghini?

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Comments

  1. Scott I San Jose

    Funny when growing up you don’t realize how good you have it. Lived in Costa Mesa, Ca and drove and rode an amazing variety vehicles including a Trihawk.

    As I recall they had plans to trade the Citreon motor for a Harley. Remember the images and don’t recall seeing one in the flesh.

    At the time drove a TR3. The Trihawk was more flashy but not more fun and with the parts for the motor and trans being rare I passed.

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  2. Steve Member

    Harley Davidson tried to get venture capital money for the project back in the day but to NO avail. This was back around the mid 80s Harley ended up taking all the inventory back to Wisconsin where I believe it still is today. Keep in mind the early 80s were not good for HD financially and if I remember correctly the Reagan Admin out an import tax on the big Japanese cruise bikes

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  3. Steven C

    This thing looks like a whole bunch of fun! Looks like the build quality was pretty good. The citroen drivetrain is just added weird coolness to me.

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  4. DA

    I think if I was in market for a 3 wheeler would have to be a Slingshot.
    http://www.polaris.com/en-us/slingshot/slingshot-sl

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      I keep getting flyers in the mail for a test drive. Maybe Josh and I need to go try one out!

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      • jim s

        yes. take a test drive, then post a story on them. there is a slingshot in my area but i have only seen it moving. when bike nights start in a few weeks i hope it shows up so i can get a closer look..

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  5. George

    The Slingshot has been having a huge advertising campaign. Commercials everywhere!

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  6. jim s

    sold for $ 12500. did anyone on the site buy this?

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  7. zaphod

    The Citroen GSA motor was and is a very good unit; it’s a 4 cylinder version of the venerable 2 CV variant, which started life in the ’30’s as a mule at the factory.

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  8. Jubjub

    So much cooler than a Slingshot.

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  9. rangeroger

    Now I know what the weird 3-wheeler running around the Silver Valley in Idaho is. Not the Trihawk, the Slingshot.

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  10. Mark S

    I know you folks down in the US call these 3 wheelers which is what I called my trike when I was a kid, but up here in Canada they’re known as auto cycles and fall into there own classification at motor vehicles ( your dmv ) you still hold a motorcycle drivers licence but you are restricted to 3 wheeled vehicles if you tested on one. Sidecar motorcycle rigs Are not included in this designation because the sidecar is considered an accessory. As for the auto cycle in your post I like the styling it was ahead of its time but why use such an uncommon motor, when much more common choices such as the 1200 goldwing motor/ trans, or the Subaru were available. One thing though is this rig front wheel drive, sure looks like it.

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  11. Bob S

    That Trihawk looks to be in new condition. Like the interior and engine room. A arms look showroom fresh. If they drive well, (as high G force seems to indicate) it was a great deal for such a rare vehicle.

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  12. Dominique Legeai

    ….what a surprise! I happen to know personally the man behind the design, here in Lake Zurich, Il…..Bob McKee who is also credited for the design of many “breakthrough” technologies on cars. I rode in and drove one of these Trihawks, great ride, fun to drive, very “peppy”….could have, should have done better in the market place.

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  13. jjacob

    I was in the One Lap of America in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988. 9000 miles in 9 days. There were two guys who entered one of these in 1985. Event that year was run in March so we hit lots of snow in Montana and elsewhere. They were miserable in the Trihawk. I remember the difficulty they had in driving it in the snow. It did not track like cars with four wheels. The rear wheel couldn’t decide which rut to follow!

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  14. George Fallar

    My brother and I were the idiots in the Trihawk driving that One Lap of America. It was quite a ride in the snow, plus being air-cooled you can imagine how nice and NOT toasty it was inside.

    We did it to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Harley was generous enough to loan us the Trihawk.

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    • jjacob

      Hi George!
      We all liked your TriHawk. We thought you guys were tough and good sports to do what you did. You also provided comic relief when we would see you on the road! We took seventh that year in my 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger.
      John Jacob

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      • George Fallar

        Haha, thanks. It was pretty close to the worst thing we ever did, but we had pledges for MDA so there was no way we could have quit.

        Glad we did it, and the thing was a real blast to drive when the roads were good. If you recall, there was a leg (THROWN OUT) from Vegas to Big Bend to I think the Alamo. The road along the Rio Grande was a blast to drive in the TriHawk (although an errant road hog burro almost ended it for us), so it wasn’t ALL bad. Plus, my brother and I saw the most beautiful girl we had ever seen at a bar in (I think) Terlingua. Or maybe we were just hallucinating.

        Seventh is a good result! Good talking with you, made my day thinking about that trip.

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