How Three-wheel Cars Work

Owning a Three-wheel Car

A man sits in the Peugeot 20 Cup, a three-wheeler concept vehicle by French automaker Peugeot, at the 61st IAA International Auto show in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sept. 13, 2005.
AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle


Are three-wheeled cars street legal? In most cases, the answer is yes. But it's always smart to look into your local laws before buying one, just to be sure. In the United States, three-wheel car laws vary from state to state. They're typically classified as motorcycles, and drivers have to be licensed as a motorcycle rider to drive one. Motorcycle insurance is usually a requirement, too. And because three-wheeled cars are considered a motorcycle in most states, you can even drive them in the commuter lane.


You have plenty of options if you decide a three-wheeler is more your speed than a motorcycle or a compact car. One route to go is to buy a classic three-wheeler, like a Morgan three-wheeler, a BMW Isetta, a Reliant Robin or a Bond Bug from classified ads or on a site like eBay.

If you want something a little newer, there are many ways to go, too. Especially since three-wheelers are becoming increasingly popular as 'green' vehicles. If you want something that offers more speed than Earth-friendliness, consider the Campagna Motors three-wheeled T-Rex. It has a 200 horsepower engine in a body that only weighs 1,040 pounds (471.7 kilograms). This offers a stunningly fast three-wheel automobile that, at $50,000, can put supercars that cost four times as much to shame [source: Campagna Motors].

If you decide to go the three-wheel route, know that you aren't alone. Millions of people use these vehicles around the world every day as their main source of transportation or as a just-for-fun way of getting around town. And with the advantages they present to electric, hybrid and other eco-friendly car designs, it doesn't look like they're going away anytime soon.

To read more about three-wheel cars and other related topics, follow the links below.

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More Great Links


  • (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • "1948 Bond Minicar 3-wheeler." (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Beckman, Randolph. "3-Wheel Cars: Some answers to questions we forgot to ask." (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Campagna Motors. (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Nerad, Jack. "Benz Patent Motor Wagen." (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Reliant Owners Club. "Reliant Robin." (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Riley, Robert Q. and Foale, Tony. "Three Wheel Cars: Primary Factors that Determine Handling & Rollover Characteristics." Robert Q. Riley Enterprises. (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Riverschmitt. "Buying a Three-Wheeled Car on eBay." eBay Guides. Aug. 26, 2008. (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • TriRod Motorcycles. "Motorcycles: F3 Adrenaline." (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Yoney, Domenick. "Greenlings: Why do so many green cars have only three wheels?" AutoblogGreen. Feb. 13, 2009. (Feb. 25, 2009)