New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Three wheels give you wings!

2010-08-06 08:00


Owning a three-wheeler has never really caught on in South Africa but in the UK it’s been a completely different story.

The vast distances between South Africa’s towns are probably the main reason why three-wheeler cars have never sold in any great numbers - outside of a handful of diehard trike enthusiasts, that is.

In thirty-odd years of living in Natal I’ve only come across three or four three-wheelers. One was an ancient Bond from the early 1950’s that belonged to an old friend, Colin Dove. Another was the superb BSA trike seen regularly up until a year or two ago owned by the late Clive Mitchell. The third is often seen on rallies and at club meets - the pride and joy of Pietermaritzburg enthusiast Don Townsend.

I doubt there’s more than a half-dozen countrywide yet, amazingly, the oldest known Morgan trike in the world can be found in Durban, a 1913 example belonging to the Piries - a real family of motoring enthusiasts if ever there was.

England seems to have no shortage of them. I met up with Ron Bishop (pictured) on a recent trip to the UK. The temperature was down to around five degrees centigrade but there was Ron, braving the elements in true British spirit in his open-topped three-wheeler.

Sorry for cropping off the left front wheel from the photograph - I can assure you there was a pair up front along with a single one at the rear. Bonds, Reliants and a few others made the sad mistake of putting the single wheel up front; that arrangement made them susceptible to crosswinds and would tip over as quick as look at them.


The trike alongside which Bishop is standing is from a British kit-car company called Lomax. The body, tub and mudguards will set you back £1125 (about R130 000) but all the mechanical parts you’re likely to need to finish the project can be had from a “scrap” Citroen 2CV.

“British scrap yards are littered with them,” Bishop told me.

“With its 602cc, air-cooled engine and the final drive through the front wheels, the power-to-weight ratio is superb,” he said. “A modified Austin Marina anti-roll bar helps to keep the car flat through corners and the steering remains light and precise... just like any sports car!”

Asking the age-old question “how fast does it go?”, he told me: “It’ll accelerate straight up to around 150km/h; stopping is taken care of with inboard disc brakes. I’ve seen the magic 160km/h on the speedo but in Britain we’re a law-abiding lot, not like you South Africans!”
“I suppose you only use the Lomax for the occasional run?” I asked.

“Not a bit of it - a year or two back the Lomax Club organised a run to the US that took in Death Valley. I’ve been across to France more than once and, when the weather warms up, the wife and I will be off on a touring holiday to Spain.”

So much for the theory of a three-wheeler only being useful over short distances... maybe South Africans got it wrong all those years ago.

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