Excitement On Three Wheels: 1983 Tri-Magnum

“What on earth is that weird thing?” is what most people say when they see these for the first time. This interesting thing is for sale here on eBay out of Dayton, Ohio, and it’s essentially a real road-legal vehicle made completely DIY from plans and blueprints. Thanks go to Ed for sharing this tip! Read on to find out more.

Long before the days of the Can-Am Spyder or Polaris Slingshot, three-wheeled vehicles in various forms came and went. In fact, the Benz Patent Motorwagen from 1885, widely regarded as the first automobile, was a three-wheeler. Over the years, many models have appeared on the market, but only a handful of those models have been do-it-yourself units like the Tri-Magnum.

The Tri-Magnum was dreamt up and designed by Robert Q. Riley, founder of Quincy-Lynn Enterprises in Phoenix, Arizona. He and his team started in the mid-1970s, designing outlandish vehicle bodies, watercraft, and fitness equipment. By the early 1980s, the team came up with the Tri-Magnum – basically, it’s a motorcycle chassis and drivetrain with the front suspension from a compact car and completely homemade panels. Featured in the February, 1983 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, one could mail-order the plans for a paltry $17 and build the vehicle however YOU wanted. It wasn’t a kit car, it was a true do-it-yourself.

The seller of this one doesn’t go into as much detail as we would like, nor are the pictures as nice as they could be, but we can get a general idea. We’re told that it ran when parked, but we don’t know how long ago that was. We’re also told that it’s complete, but again, it’s difficult for a buyer to know that unless they’re familiar with Tri-Magnums. We found it a bit confusing, though, that the seller says it’s a 1983 at the top, but 1980 in the description. Looking at the pictures, we see what looks like instrumentation from a Japanese motorcycle, period wheels and custom seat, and personalized “Wild Blue” front license plate. Paint and interior appear at first look to be aged, but not terrible. Closer inspection would obviously be required.

I personally know very little about the DIY vehicles made from plans out of a magazine. I do, however, find them fascinating and would try it if I had the tools and resources.  Thankfully, Mr. Riley is still in business and still sells the plans on his company’s website, so it wasn’t a complete wild-goose-chase to find information and present this one to you. I have to tip my hat to whoever it was that bought the plans and spent countless hours finding and/or fabricating the chassis, drivetrain and body. So… what do YOU think about this piece?


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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    These are classified as an autocycle which would mean that you’d need a motorcycle licence to drive it. The post lacks a lot of information like what motorcycle was used, what front suspension was used and maybe under side photos so we can get a look at frame structure. Being home made insurance might be a problem too. I like the look of what can be seen but to many un answered questions.

    Like 3
    • Andy

      Knowing the donor bike would go a long way to putting a value on this. Anything under about 850cc could be disappointing, and with all that bodywork, a shaft drive could eliminate a lot of hassle. Looks interesting either way.

      Like 1
      • Will

        The eBay ad says it is a 750cc and the photos show that it is a Suzuki, but not knowing that much about bikes, I can’t tell what model from the photos. There is plenty of room inside, if someone wanted to swap that out for a larger more powerful bike. As for the year, I’m assuming that it is a 1980 bike and the thing was built in 1983.

      • Will

        Interesting, that when I check the VIN in the listing, it comes up as a 1982 Honda GL1100A Aspencade. Maybe someone can tell by the photos on eBay.

        Like 1
  2. Dinky


    Like 1
  3. Mike

    Looks like they followed the construction instructions, but their skill level was barely enough to get the job done. The front end looks wonky compared to other Tri-Magnums.

    Like 1
  4. Danh

    I think this little bike car is really cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if strange niche vehicles like this become more popular. Let face it, big heavy cumbersome classic cars of yesteryear are becoming less attractive to younger buyers.

    Like 1
  5. Andy B

    That looks absolutely COOL! Maybe something to do when I’m not fixing everything around the house or all the kids cars…

  6. Rod444

    I’ve loved the look of the TriMagnum since I first saw the plans back in Popular Mechanix as a kid. I was fortunate enough to get a free set of 13 highly detailed blueprint sheets from a gentleman who had them stored for years. I’d still love to build one.

    Like 2
  7. chrlsful

    never saw this 1 B4 (in person, on-line, anywhere). I have seen the 1 that lools like a plane (wings jut out a good few feet, tail’n alerons too) & appears he’s got 1 of those as well…
    I like this thing, esp the back view. The 2 frnt/1 rear wheels is the safest too.
    I agree, bring on more (some w/4 wheels). Make sure an ol timer like me can get in/out tho. A step better (weather) than my cycle, a step B4 the gas guzzler (20 MPGs). Cheep to register & run/maintain…
    Just sold for $3,800.

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