One sunny day in Southend-on-Sea, I spotted a half car, half motorbike rolling past me stuck in coastal traffic. I immediately recognised the unmistakable sight and sound of the VW Beetle flat-4 engine sitting exposed at the back. It was the first time I’d taken notice of a trike.
Recently, a friend posted a picture of something similar on Facebook; but this was something a bit more extreme, and had the entire rear of a Beetle, yet the rest of the vehicle was to all intents and purposes a motorbike. I decided to investigate more.
You can get a trike kit for a surprisingly small amount of money, there are also a few places out there that specialise in creating this type of hybrid for you with a fibreglass body. Essentially, in the great scheme of things, this kind of vehicle must sit in a similar area to that of the beach buggy; a fun, essentially summer vehicle.
Most VW trike projects start with a rusting donor vehicle – a classic 1200 Volkswagen Beetle for example. Let’s face it, cutting up a VW Beetle in good working order would make you a very hard-hearted individual in my book.
These strange looking vehicles use the Beetle rear subframe, gearbox and rolling chassis, with the front section removed and replaced with the front end of a motorbike. Adding to this the basic flat-4 Beetle engine gives you the strange road going creature that you see here.
The more you read about VW trikes, the more you notice that all roads start to lead to one person and one infamous project – Chris Ireland’s white and red striped VW trike, Beach B*stard (above), which famously featured as the centre-spread in the 100th edition of Back Street Heroes magazine.
Chris established his own custom shop, Desperate Dan’s in the late 70s/early 80s, and after building a VW trike called Preying Mantis (so named because of it’s insect-like appearance) he then went on to finalise this now famous VW trike, who’s name now seems to have been borrowed by many such conversions that have taken place all over the world.
It all looks head turningly great fun, but the fear of tipping up and the awful aerodynamic wind scoop that the design inevitable creates, means I’m quite happy just to watch, and smile approvingly.
Images from bikerlifestyle.co.uk coolcarsandgirls.com kilometermagazine.com a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com japchop.blogspot.co.uk