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3-Wheeler Books

Book Reviews

My thanks to all the people below for sending in the following book reviews.

More Morgan, A Pictorial History of the Morgan Sports Car.

Author: Gregory Houston Bowden. Published by Dodd, Mead, & Co, 1977, 223 pp, photos,drawings, index. This Review by Colin Cobb.

By the author of MORGAN, First and Last of the Real Sports Cars, this is a great little book and well worth the considerable effort you will have to go through to find it. Just over half of the book is devoted to Three-Wheelers with the balance dealing with the four wheeled cousins. The text is well written and the photos and illustrations are rare and wonderful. With chapters devoted to Early Racers, Engines, Running Repairs and Restoration, Darmont Morgans, Morgan Vans, and various Three-Wheeler Clubs as well as many other subjects, this book provides fascinating information but it is the photos that bring the book to life. There is even a photo of a 1928 Super Sports Aero preparing to pass a Cobra on the track at Nurburgring in Germany in 1974. What a photo! Unfortunately, MORE MORGAN is out of print. (The copy I read was loaned to me by Bill Coonley of El Paso, TX, who, although he keeps a barn full of elderly MGıs, is still a nice fella.) So, keep your eyes open when you are checking out the local flea market, yard sale or used book store. And if you do happen to find not one, but two copies... well, you have my address, donıt you?

Colin Cobb used to run the North American Trike site. 

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Three-Wheelers, From Morgan to Messerschmitt, Benz to Bond and Beyond,

Author: Chris Rees Published by Blueprint Books Ltd., 1995. 168 pp, 350 photos, drawings, tables. Oversized.£25.00 ($59.95 from Classic Motorbooks!), This Review by Colin Cobb.

So, who made the first production Three-Wheeler? Other than the venerable Morgan, who produced the most successful Trike? Who produced producing began with the letter “Z?” How many brands of Trike have there been, anyway? These and hundreds of other Three-Wheeler questions are answered in this fascinating volume. The book begins with a review of the very earliest Three-Wheeler history to a brief review of Morgans, then moves into a detailed study of virtually all of the important marques from one-offs and concept cars to the actual production models. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of rare and unique Three-Wheelers. One wishes that more of the photos were in color, but even in black and white the style and character of these vehicles comes through. And what a great mix of vehicles are presented! Appropriately enough, Morgan claims the largest section, with 14 pages of text and photos. True, there is really no new information presented on Morgan Trikes, but it is a nice concise history anyway.

It is in the treatment of the less well known marques that this book shines. The Lomax, Grinnall Scorpion, JZR, Trisport, Triking, Badsey Bullet, and dozens of other tail draggers are presented, as well as far too many “backwards Trikes” with the third wheel up front such as Reliant, Trimuter, Bond, and so forth. All of the significant Trikes, be they production cars, concept cars, or kit cars, are very well presented and documented. The book includes a prodigious listing of Three-Wheeler marquees which lists manufacturers of three wheeled vehicles and includes the country of origin and years of production. The lack of an index is, however, a serious shortcoming in this otherwise very comprehensive and well laid out volume.

Oh, yes! The answers to the quiz: The first production Three-Wheeler was, of course, produced by Benz from 1888 (the prototype having been built in 1885) through 1894 when Benz changed to a spare-on-the-ground configuration. So, the first production Three-Wheeler was also the first production automobile. The most successful Trike other than Morgan is pretty much a judgment call... you might say BSA, but how about the Plastic Pig? If duration of production and sheer numbers produced are the criteria, you will likely have to give the nod to the Reliant despite its total lack of sporting appeal and that dismal single wheel in front design. As for the question of who produced contemporary Trike... Well, since this is another judgement call, I think we can rule out the Reliant and concentrate on sporting vehicles. How about either Lomax has ever had the somewhat dubious pleasure of seeing a Trikingıs speedometer zip up to the 100 mph mark will readily testify that it is certainly a sporting vehicle! And most Trikings are chain driven with power to the rear wheel, where it belongs... Yes, my vote definitely goes to Tony Divey and his V-Twin Motto Guzzi powered Triking. The book lists only 3 Three-Wheelers with names beginning with “Z” The ZAZ (prototype), 1954, Russia; the Zetgelette, 1923, Germany; and the Zoe Zipper, 1984, USA/Japan. As for a count of the Trike brands... My tired eyes and shaky fingers came up with a remarkable 498 names! Even more remarkable is the fact that at least 33 makes of Trike are in production world wide at this time. Which country is currently building the highest number of Trike marques? You guessed it, the United Kingdom.

Colin Cobb used to run the North American Trike site.  Although the site is still on-line there are no plans to maintain it any more.

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The Book of the Reliant.

Author: John Thorpe.  Published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd, London, 1965. 116 pp, Illustrated Out of Print This Review by Elvis Payne.

Essentially this book is a handbook for all Reliant 3-wheelers up to 1965 but is excellent in that it goes further than most handbooks and details a very brief history of 3-wheelers from the first all-British “car” (Edward Butler’s 3-wheeler of the 1880’s) up until 1935 when it then details Reliant’s history.  From here the book goes on to explain the basic principles of how the “modern” engine works and then gets down to the nitty gritty of car maintenance and how to keep your Reliant running. With plenty of diagrams showing you how things work etc the book makes great reading whether you own a Reliant or not.

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Three-Wheelers (Shire Album 165)

Author: Ken Hill.  Published by Shire Publications Ltd, 1986. 32 pp, photos, £1.95, This Review by Elvis Payne.

Ken Hill has written numerous books, most of which look at the Morgan but this little book inspired me greatly years ago in 1990 when I did my first 3-wheeler project.  The book gives an interesting overview on the history of the 3-wheeler  and along the way it is great for detailing many political and economic factors that have shaped 3-wheelers during the years. Of course a 3-wheeler book without a mention of Morgan, especially knowing Ken Hill’s interest,  would be lost and so Morgan is covered on 5 pages out of the 32.  There are lots of photos, all of them black and white and apart from Morgan most 3-wheelers mentioned are detailed in just a couple of lines of text. If you have a spare hour at hand it makes a most enjoyable read and is a book that you’ll read over and over again.  The book also has a list of about 200 3-Wheeler manufacturers and also details places to visit to see 3-wheelers.  I have written to most of these places however and most no longer have 3-wheelers or in the case of the Welsh Motor Museum it no longer exist.  I believe there is now an updated version of the book.

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More Microcars

Author: Tony Marshall.  Published by Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire. 2001. £11.69, This Review by Chris Powell.

More Microcars deals with  the more obscure microcars from around the world and is a worthy follow up to  the first edition which dealt with the more common microcars. This book is well worth adding to a collection.

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Reliant Regal and Robin

uthor: Don Pither.  Published by Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire. 2001. £11.69, This Review by Chris Powell.

Reliant Regal and Robin is the definitive history of the Reliant Motor company and contains some superb and rare photos tracing the roots of the company right up to the publishing date. This book is well worth adding to a collection

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Bond Bug; Road test and articles

Compiled by Trevor Alder.  Published by Transport Source Books, Ipswich. 78 pp, photos, 1996. £9.99, This Review by Elvis Payne.

This book is a great source of information to the Bond Bud owner and enthusiast. It is a collection adverts, road test, press articles and reviews concerning the Bond Bug.  Despite whether they were great reviews or bad reviews they have been included.  A fascinating read!

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Three Wheelers

Author: Malcolm Bobbitt.  Published by Veloce Publishing, Dorset.. 96 pages,  156 photos, 2003. £9.99, This Review by Elvis Payne.

The book is part of Veloce Publishing’s “ Those were the days collection” and only touches briefly on the history of three wheelers before settling into its main area, the post war period.  Its always refreshing to see a book with numerous photos that have not been seen before and this is one of those books. Many of the photos are from the Authors own collection and so if you attend 3-wheeler / microcar rallies a lot you just may see yourself in this book.  I certainly recognised a few vehicles. Its not just new photos though, hidden through out are also a number of vintage photos that I have not seen before.  One of my favourite photos is one of a 1958 Heinkel spotted for sale at a rally.  The car obviously needs a total rebuild from the ground up but it comes with a For Sale sign saying “need welding for MOT”.

The book is a delight to read and flows nicely from page to page though if you are reading the main story it can at times require turning over several pages of photos to get to the next chapter / paragraph. In one case one chapter ends on page 24 and the next starts on page 48.  In a way the book should be read twice as each photo has a wealth of information below it and so you can often get side tracked from the main book reading all the info under the photo. Having said this the photos with the comments do provide great detail and are almost another book in them self.  The book ends with around four  paragraphs detailing 3-wheelers from the 1970s onwards.   All in all a very enjoyable read.

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The Lady in the Van

Author: Alan Bennett.  Published by Profile Books, London.. 92 pages,  4 photos, 1989. £3.99, This Review by Elvis Payne.

This book is not a book about 3-wheelers but is a small true story about an old lady who lived in a Reliant Regal Supervan. The van was moved to Alan Bennett’s drive way and the book captures a few glimpses of memorable moments that happened during the years the old lady lived in the van.  In many ways these are comical but as I gaze into the back of my Regal Supervan, saddening that a small space like this was someone’s home for so many years.  The book only takes a day to read but its well worth it.

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