Only 27 Built: 1976 TriVette

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

When I first looked at the photos of this unusual find sent in by Pete B, it felt like my eyes were going cross. Once they stopped freaking out, I started to think that perhaps the photos were messed up or my computer monitor was on the fritz, but then I did a search for the TriVette three wheeler and discovered that this micro car is really just that narrow. It’s not hard to believe that only 27 of these were built and sold. At the same time, it’s so odd that it’s kind of cool! If you’ve been looking for something a bit off the wall that’s incredibly rare, fully street legal and fuel efficient, you can find this TriVette here on craigslist in Granite Falls, Washington with an $8,450 asking price.

Apparently the creator of this car saw a statistic about how many of the cars on the road in California carried just one person, which seemed rather wasteful. So they designed a lightweight and aerodynamic vehicle that could comfortably carry someone to and from work everyday. Power is provided by a Fiat 850 engine, which produces about 58 horsepower. It’s said that two examples received turbocharged VW engines and produced 220 horsepower. The Fiat engine might get great fuel mileage, but I want the turbo!

When it comes to the interior, comfort is a bit subjective. It has the basics of what you need to get to and from work, but that’s about it. Ventilation would be my top concern for most of the year and I don’t think it would be easy to take it through the drive-thru. It looks like most of the interior components were taken from the Fiat 850, so parts should be available if anything breaks.

Bob Keyes, the creator of the TriVette and the Vigillante (the V8 powered version) was definitely creative and the fact that he was able to get California State Patrol to commission the creation of a pursuit vehicle is a testament to it’s capability. If you’d like to know more about how this car came to be, you can read the full story here. So would you daily drive this oddball?

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Comments

  1. Bmac Member

    Make sure you wear your seatbelts, that shift lever reminds me of the early 70’s Stingray bikes. Ouch!




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  2. Rube Goldberg Member

    Reminds me of something Jimmy Durante might drive. I think it’s really cool. A little indifferent about the power, I’d think a modern GoldWing setup would be better. Sure would be a challenge driving around with that big shnozz out front. I’d have to think this would understeer terribly. Individual rear brakes, like a tractor, would help. Pretty strange, indeed.




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  3. jcs

    I’m wondering if any of the states would take exception to having the headlights mounted in the rear fenders, some distance from the front of the car.




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    • 86 Vette Convertible

      That and no apparent front or rear bumpers on it. Regardless, I like it. That would be a fun commuter vehicle till someone gives it a bump.




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      • Steve65

        Most states would register this as a motorcycle. Don’t know about the headlights, but bumpers would’t be required.




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  4. Classic Steel

    If one has the V8 version and strapped wings on the top and the rear section tail part of a
    plane ✈️ could this fly?

    I am thinking 🤔 simlar to the man with golden gun bond film and the AMC matador wing attachment 😜🤓

    I do like the Citreon in the later pics
    next to this vehicle on Craig’s list 👍




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  5. Jesper

    Uff its ugly 🙁




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  6. TriPowerVette

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t even a MONO- Vette. With that much greenhouse, no A/C and that many ‘things’ to bounce around into, if in an accident, “AutoCoffin” or “Hell-o-Vator”, might be better names. Other than keeping most of the rain off (for a while) is this the mailing tube for those unwilling to, or incapable of riding a motorcycle?




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  7. leiniedude Member

    To bad they did not stick with it. With the big push trikes have been making the last couple of years, with further development they could have been a leader in the segment today. Not sure about the tractor braking thing Rube, two more pedals would be a squeeze, but pretty fun at speed. I didn’t see any mention of reverse gear either. Be fun to putz around on the back roads though. But for that kind of ching I would rather have eight or nine different rigs to beat around on the back roads. After six inches of white trash yesterday I am thinking about a ski on the steer axle and some kind of a track on the rear.




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    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Sorry to hear abut the “white trash”, leiniedude. Sunny and 50’s all week. These are really popular out here, although, it hasn’t snowed here in central Co. for months ( actually becoming a dry problem).
      https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/b6/28/c7b628f313635f2c2c9318355bbcaa89.jpg




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      • leiniedude Member

        Maybe put one on your Wing Rube. Looks fun. You know, I might be moving that way myself. Sounds comfortable. The cold here is brutal and life is short. Take care my friend and keep looking for an old four wheeler. Seems like they are out there by you. Mike.




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    • Steve65

      It’s got a Fiat 850 drivetrain. They come with reverse.




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    • On and On

      Hey Mike, I’m in California and Arizona for 3 weeks, was 82 in Palm Springs saturday. Can you go over and shovel my snow for me today? LOL……….




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      • leiniedude Member

        You lucky dog!!!!! I sent you an E-mail New Years day, It came back undeliverable? Say hi to Sweetie Pie. Oh, you bringing a ragtop home? Take care, Mike.




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      • Rich

        Yes it was 82 here & I hate it! We get so little cooler weather anymore and 82 in January & December doesn’t bode well for summer coming later rather than starting in April.

        Luckily I buy a season tram pass so I can be 40 degrees cooler in about 12 to 15 minutes from my house. Technically I could lay by my pool in the morning until noon and then be cross country skiing by 12:15 (if there was snow). I’m just sayin’… 😎




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  8. Jack M.

    @Bmac- better wear your seatbelts and athletic cup!




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  9. John D

    This made me think of the Elio. Where for art thou Dear Elio of so much trike promise? And then, the Can Am and Polaris Slingshot? Both of those trikes are in production and are being marketed, it seems, to the motorcycle crowd. And that electric vehicle trike from the Northwest; was that aimed for the bicycle crowd? It seems that autonomous cars have taken the future-car discussion over.




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  10. Pa Tina

    26 too many were built.




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  11. Dan

    It is easy to engineer the one-wheel-in-front three wheeler, but all the benefits end right there. I have had a few, and they are tipsy, and I think scary to drive!




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  12. On and On

    Honda stopped production of three wheel vehicles because of liability. Fast but scary off road vehicles. Collectible today though.




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  13. redwagon

    i would think that with the long nose and upright form it would be more sail than car. Unless there is substantial weight forward of the cabin – which only negates the mileage gains.




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  14. rustylink

    Hey if it’s licensed as a motorcycle – you could drive this baby from the NOVA ‘burbs the entire length of Rte 66 into DC in the congestion tolled HOV lane and save yourself a bundle – as it would be free. I know some guys are trying to ride longer in the winter to avoid this toll – this would be great to have as it would not subject yourself to the full harshness of winter weather.




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  15. guy gilmore

    You sure couldn’t use it to go to the grocery store that’s for sure. And to be a everyday driver? Maybe a weekend toy I’d say???




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  16. Richard Douglass

    If you read the link at the end of the article (read full story here) it sounds like it can corner, brake,and handle better than most sports cars.The turbo model ,220 hp, turned 10.4 ,140 mph in the quarter!!!




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  17. curt

    I think it would really kool to have this.it would be fun to park it and actually see how many knew what it is.what drives me crazy and not a far trip mind you is from the front the reflecters are not even.




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  18. Beemoe

    There was a new electric three wheeler at CES last week for a mere $9500. It had a range of 120 miles. Woohoo.

    So impressive I, uh, forgot it’s name.




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  19. Peter

    The V8 must differ somewhat from these examples shown?
    I get the feeling they would be too light in the front end and lift up at speed or accelerating.




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  20. Alex B

    Looks like…




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    • leiniedude Member

      Is that a good thing Alex? I hope so. Had some Limburger at Baumgartners today with a Huber Bock, so nice! https://baumgartnercheese.com/




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      • Alex B

        Tasty! 😀




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  21. Bruce

    I find it amazing that they were able to sell as many as 27.




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  22. Jimbosidecar

    That TriVette Sure has some interesting stable mates.




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  23. Brakeservo

    Well, the guy’s a “Curbstone Dealer” – okay until the Washington Motor Vehicle Dept catches up!




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  24. ACZ

    There has to be a reason for this thing but I can’t imagine what it could be.




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  25. Ken Nelson

    Hey guys, read the whole website & you’ll see this thing has the speed, braking & handling of a supercar but better. The website articles describe the physics of it all and getting the physics right in mobility isn’t a joke, it”s THE LAW. And whoever is selling this definitely likes excellent physics behavior as demonstrated by the Citroen DS21 sitting next to it – the most wonderful transportation contrivance ever engineered, and still never equalled even tho it’s conception is now 63 yrs old.




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  26. chad

    2 frnt, 1 rear is getting more attention due to stability. H-D has lic one guy’s so as to be a factory order now.
    How long has the CanAm been made – a tona them round here…




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  27. Walt

    With those slab sides, crosswinds might just tip it over… That would be no fun at speed.




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  28. That AMC guy

    Bizarre – but maybe not much more so than the Subaru 360 van sitting next to it in the garage!




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  29. BIll Fidler

    HERES MY trike. Trivator, built in N.Mexico, 1980.




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    • Peter

      What is that chopper in the shed Bill?




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  30. BIll Fidler

    It was the start of a VW trike, which I got rid of, to work on the Vator. The vehicle covered up to the left is a Trivan. A 3-wheeled pick up truck that was built here in Penna., back in 1963. 2 wheels in front, one on rear… Also have a 67 servi with brand new motor, sitting…. Just had the motor split & REDONE when my girl learned that she has cancer. So, this stuff is available for the right prices. WILL post pis of servicar next time.




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  31. BIll Fidler

    Here is the servi..




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