Three Wheel Party – Vanderhall Venice Hits the Beach

When we think of three wheelers, we tend to visualize a guy who looks like Charley Daniels blasting down a Florida turnpike on a homemade V-twin trike with flake paint and a sissy bar. Maybe even some ape hanger handlebars. Thanks to a legion of startups and techie hipsters, the three-wheel vehicle market has left ol’ Charley in the weeds.

Gone are the days of chain drive rear axles, two wheels in back, forks and spokes up front. Using front wheel drive, sporty coilover suspension, a beefy single swing arm style rear wheel setup, disc brakes, shiny rollbars, coffee holders, satellite radio and finely trimmed leather cabins, three-wheeled vehicles are not only well built and sporty as hell, they’re a hot trend.

The latest trick trike to drop is Vanderhall’s “Venice.” Our friend Mark Vaughn down at Autoweek got invited to drive one and took it to, where else – Venice Beach. “It looks most like the Morgan three-wheeler,” Vaughn remarked. “But while the Morgan has a 2.0-liter motorcycle engine powering the rear wheels, the Vanderhall has a front-wheel-drive GM powertrain driving its front wheels.”

As you might imagine, the Venice is lightweight, weighing in at just 1,475 pounds. GM’s 180-hp 1.4 turbo-four banger and 6T40 six-speed automatic – the same drivetrain powering Chevy’s Malibu, Cruze and Sonic – is good for 0-60 sprints in just 4.5 seconds. Handling is spot on with pushrod coil-over setup, reducing unsprung weight.

Once inside, Vaughn reported it even felt “a little roomy” but the front windshield was curved in a manner that made looking through it difficult. But overall, it was a fun and sporty experience he described as “fun but in a goofy way.” Maybe tailor made for short people? Regardless, if you’re looking for a way to go about your motoring in a new light, and to not have to succumb to the same traffic rules and regulations as a car (Vehicles with three wheels count as motorcycles, not as cars in the eyes of the federal government) a three-wheeler like Vanderhall’s Venice may make for a good commuter or a fun weekend whip. For a while at least. Would you drive one?

Vanderhall Venice Specs and Pricing:

  • On Sale: Now
  • Base Price: $29,995
  • Drivetrain: 1.4-liter turbo I4, fwd, six-speed automatic
  • Output: 180 hp @ 4950 rpm, 185 lb ft @ 2450 rpm
  • Curb Weight: 1475 lbs (mfg.)
  • 0-60 MPH: 4.5 seconds (mfg)

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