Trihawk was a car/motorcycle hybrid

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Three-wheelers have become quite popular, especially as motorcycle riders age and seek something with more stability than just a pair of wheels, and especially with more comfortable side-by-side seats instead of tandem-style saddles.

But three-wheelers are nothing new. Consider the history of Morgan, or the short-lived history of the American-produced Trihawk. The Pick of the Day is a 1983 Harley-Davidson Trihawk 304 sportscycle being advertised on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in San Diego, California.

According to the advertisement, the three-wheeler is one of only 96 produced, with Trihawk production ending soon after Harley-Davidson acquired the company.

That despite the claim in the advertisement that the Trihawk was “renown” for its competition roadability “on par with Corvette and Porsche (recorded 1g in skidpad testing by Road & Track magazine) or that the rack-and-pinion steering “feels like a Formula-1 racer.”

Trihawk schematic

The ad notes that the Trihawk uses Citroen front-wheel-drive and 1.3-liter 4-cylinder air-cooled engine with a 5-speed transaxle just like those used in early Lotus Esprit.

The seller adds that the Trihawk on offer is believed to be the only one produced with a lower sill height — by 2½ inches — on the driver’s side to make entry and exit easier for a “less-agile” person.

The three-wheeler also has a snap-on canvas top and side curtains, is in excellent condition and has been driven only 13,600 miles, always garaged and has a current California DMV registration, the seller says in the ad.

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The cockpit

The Trihawk 304 gets its name from its 3 wheels and 4-cylinder engine. It was conceived by industrial designer Lou Richards, whose Formax company produced hamburger patty-forming machinery for the fast-food industry.

According to YellowTrihawk.com, Richards went to race car engineers Bob McKee and Dick Kleber, car builder Bill Molzon and car designer David Stollery. 

Richards had prototypes built at Design Lab in Illinois and then began production of Hawk Vehicles in Dana Point, California, using components from such automakers as Citroen, Renault and Honda. 

Trihawks had roles in two movies, including Cherry 2000 starring a young Melanie Griffith.

The Pick of the Day Trihawk is for sale for $19,500.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Actually, about 200 were made and none by Harley Davidson. Harley did buy Trihawk from Richards and McKee but it was at the time Harley was about to go under and their bank told them to make motorcycles and not try to set up production for the Trihawk. I had the honor to own one and enjoy driving it and I still have the honor of having Bob McKee as one of my best friends. Trihawks will do about a 1 G turn by the way.

  2. Love reading about these oddities……I always learn so much from your site. Don’t know what I would do without you guys. Thank you. Scott

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