The experience is no doubt visceral. The wind against your face as you speed in this open, vintage-inspired vehicle is evocative of the raw racing thrills in early Mille Miglia. But this is no traditional roadster. In fact, it is quite an odd vehicle. With three wheels, it is neither motorcycle, tricycle nor car. It is a rather offbeat expression of the automobile made by Vanderhall, a boutique company based in Provo, Utah.
The company specializes in a unique niche: “hand-made three-wheeled autocycles created for sports driving, touring, commuting and city driving.” Their Vanderhall Laguna model put them on the automotive map. Their latest creation, the 2019 Venice Speedster, a turbocharged, single-seat three-wheeler has a design that looks both classic and futuristic. Vanderhall calls these three-wheeled oddities “autocycles,” a marketing term they coined that denotes “neither this, nor that, but a little of both.” This car, err autocycle, is all about rewriting the rules. It contains design and function elements both old and new.
There is no door, for instance, requiring a bit of flexibility to get into the cockpit. Once in there, you are presented with two shift knobs, one on the floor and another on the left. As conventionally expected, one shifter is for selecting gears. The other functions as a sequential shifter for the autocycle’s six-speed automatic. Confused already? The Speedster is derived from another Vanderhall autocycle, the Venice. Released in 2017, the 180-horsepower Venice had a GM 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and a GM 6-speed automatic transmission.
There was an optional sequential manual shifter version. It had disc brakes, a composite body, step-over beltline in lieu of doors, and quite surprisingly, room for two. The Speedster, on the other hand, is a single seater. With 180 horses on tap and around 185 pounds/feet of torque, this vehicle is not to be scoffed at for speed. Factor in a curb weight of 1430-pounds and you have modern supercar performance. The Speedster is described as a ‘minimalistic iteration of the Venice”. If Vanderhall’s self-described attempt at “neither this, nor that, but a little of both,” appeals to you, then the Venice Speedster is likely your kind of machine.