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When Hawgs Could Fly: The Harley-Davidson Tri-Hawk

Yes, the legendary producer of the basic Harley-Davidson bike now long gone celebrating its 100th Anniversary did certainly promote an car… properly, form of.

For a few years along with its Big Twin cruisers and lighter weight Sportsters. Harley-Davidson made three-wheelers within the type of utility and police “trikes,” however they had been Barney Rubble lumps in comparison with the svelte Mirage Fighter appears to be like of the short-lived, however fast-paced Tri-Hawk, circa 1984. Chances are you did not ogle one in your native Harley vendor’s showroom for they appeared solely briefly, and had been chalked as much as a advertising and marketing miscalculation and somewhat quickly deselected from the Milwaukee line-up.

The two-passenger Tri-Hawk had already been in restricted manufacturing earlier than the Motor Factory determined to take it on as their very own ostensibly to fill some unique area of interest which had no identify. In the earlier yr, H-D had made a cope with the Austrian Rotax firm for engine-gearbox racing items destined for 500 cc brief monitor racing, so perhaps it was on this euphoria of internationalism that Milwaukee opted for a three-wheeled machine powered by a French-built Citroen four-banger. And sure, “Citroen” does appear to loosely translate as “lemon.” But this light-weight, knife-edge dealing with bird-of-prey was no little bit of bitter citrus.

Decades earlier the fuel-economical, albeit quirky German Messerschmidt “automobile”, a recycled little bit of Luftwaffe fighter airplane, had carried two passengers round post-WWII Germany. Since then all types of different bike engine-powered three-wheeled automobile/bike hybrids have been born in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, however none ever caught on. In the early ’80s, the Tri-Hawk appeared at a time when experimenters had been once more on the lookout for various designs and higher energy to weight choices. The Tri-Hawk was a product of this enthusiasm, the design conjured up by race automobile engineer Robert McKee whereas the deep pockets underwriting the undertaking was millionaire sportsman Lou Richards. The completed product was assembled in a small plant positioned in a beachside city referred to as Dana Point that basks within the SoCal solar betwixt Los Angeles and San Diego. The 1299 cubic inch flat 4 air-cooled engine rode up entrance whereas the body and suspension echoed McKee’s racecar expertise. Again borrowing from French know-how, the builders integrated a hydraulic braking system manufactured by Renault.

Tipping the scales at 1300 lbs., and powered by 80 horsepower by a 5-speed transaxle transmission, theTri-Hawk has what may very well be referred to as “exhilarating efficiency traits.” Also it was not shy within the exhaust word division, a snarling Formula One rapture issuing from the pipes.

If you needed to purchase a Tri-Hawk again within the autumn of 1984 on the time of Harley-Davidson’s acquirement of the corporate, you needed to cough up $12,000 which at the moment will purchase solely about two-thirds of a Big Twin. Back then 12Okay appeared lots for a automobile with no high and solely three wheels. Yet it had attraction, and substance, each in efficiency and within the appears to be like division. It coulda, shoulda…however the Factory recreation plan was missing within the space of infrastructure to help gross sales. Milwaukee determined to not promote them by their sellers, leaving solely the manufacturing facility in Dana Point and three different franchise places to promote the Tri-Hawk… not precisely common availability nor had been there Super Bowl advert spots in the way in which of promotion. Even then, solely about eleven Tri-Hawks had been leaving the manufacturing facility nest on a month-to-month foundation, once more not precisely flying out of the meeting door into the ready arms of the motoring public. So like many endangered species, the Tri-Hawk died not from intrinsic design flaws, however from neglect.

Bottom line, the Tri-Hawk is an intelligently designed, severely made sports activities machine that shares a lot of the adrenaline producing qualities of the Cobra’s eyeball sucking efficiency and the Lotus automobile’s nimble dealing with, however with motorcycling licensing and insurance coverage perks, plus a little bit of jetfighter tossed in. It may carry two in relative consolation, and security due to the integral roll bar and security belts. And you did not must know French to drive one. They weren’t delicate or temperamental, gave good fuel mileage, and had been straightforward to park. And within the curvies, they ate huge Beemers and Benz’s for breakfast. Today 12 grand appears a cut price, besides the final Tri-Hawk this writer is aware of about offered for $25,000. You may catch it close to Los Angeles flying across the Malibu Canyons piloted by a man with a giant grin.

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