Jay Leno recently hosted a three-wheeled auto-cycle, the Vanderhall Venice, and the vehicle’s creator, Steve Hall, on an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Jay has a number of three-wheeled vehicles, including a classic Morgan, in his own collection.
During the show, Jay quizzed Steve on camera about the process of bringing an auto-cycle to market. Steve explained that as a three-wheeled vehicle, the Venice can be licensed as a motorcycle. It complies with EPA and CARB emissions regulations, carries a 17-digit VIN and is listed with NADA and Kelly Blue Book, allowing dealers to obtain bank financing for Venice buyers.
Leno quizzed Steve about the wheel and drive configuration. The company’s first prototype was rear-wheel drive, Steve replied, and used a motorcycle engine. This setup was very unstable, however, not unlike the infamous three-wheeled Reliant Robin of Great Britain.
But one of Steve’s primary goals was to capture a vintage-roadster feel in a more-reliable package. Eleven major redesigns by Vanderhall ultimately yielded two front wheels/front-wheel drive and 70/30 weight distribution to replicate the handling characteristics of a mid-engine sports car.
The Venice’s GM 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine was chosen for its packaging, reliability, American sourcing and power; it delivers 180 horsepower in the featherlight, 1,350-pound Venice.
Following the in-garage walk-around, Hall joined Leno for an in-the-wind drive in the Venice (Helmet laws vary by state. California has a helmet exception for enclosed three-wheelers). The pair took off together inside the Venice, which Steve designed to provide ample legroom for people his size (Hall is 6-foot-6-inches tall).
“It’s built by Americans using American parts, which is always a big selling point in the United States,” Leno noted. “It feels incredibly stable, and it’s a lot of fun to drive, with just enough horsepower that you can get yourself in trouble.”
To view the show, check out “Jay Leno’s Garage” on YouTube. For more information on the Vanderhall Venice, call (949) 420-9007 or visit www.vanderhallusa.com.