Tri-Magnum – R.Q. Riley

The Tri-Magnum is a home-made construction car that was designed and blue-printed by R.Q.Riley Enterprises, LLC.  The plans for this have been around since the 80’s, and R.Q. Riley has been publishing alternative energy and alternative vehicle hybrid plans in Mechanix Illustrated since the 60’s. 

So what is the Tri-Magnum? 
This is a three wheeled fuel effecient sports car that is basically a motorcycle married to a front axle of a volkswagon beetle.  The chassis consists of a stripped motorcycle, minus the fork and front wheel, which is then attached to a VW Beetle front suspension assembly using a simple framework. The motorcycle drive train is used as is, including its lightweight and efficient 5-speed transmission. The body is all handmade fiberglass using FRP/foam composite, and the power-plant, steering, and controls are all based around the donor motorcycle used to “push” the vehicle.  In this respect, the configuration is known as a pusher-vehicle.  Due to its motorcycle power-plant, the Tri-Magnum is estimated to achieve 50 mpg without sacrificing performance.  The key to the design of this motorcycle-based three-wheeler is the constant power-to-weight ratio.  Depending on the type of donor motorcycle you use, you can expect a minimum 80hp with a 1200 pound curb weight making the power-to-weight ratio 15 pounds per horsepower or more.  That is crazy powerful for a car design!

Due to its forward-biased center of gravity, Tri-Magnum understeers, just like most conventional automobiles. Pushed hard in a turn, she will float to the outside, rather than spin out. During a three-wheel-locked stop, Tri-Magnum’s rear floats slightly to one side, then rights itself and floats slightly to the other side, with no tendency to swap ends. Because of its low center of gravity, which is located forward near the side-by-side wheels, the margin of safety against rollover is equivalent to a standard four-wheel car. Tri-Magnum was featured in Mechanix Illustrated magazine, February 1983.

Here are some videos of the cars built by others:

DATE: 10/8/10: , I have purchased the plans for the vehicle, I have a donor motorcycle ready to go, and I also have the VW front end and chassis metal ready to weld.

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One comment

  1. Super stuff! This was a really helpful post.

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