The TriVette was first produced in 1974. Designed by Bob Keyes, a Physicist with 30 years of experience in the Aerospace and Defence business, The original vehicles used the Fiat 850cc engine which gave sporty performance and 3-wheeler economy at 50 - 65 mpg. The Vehicle had two seats with the passenger sitting behind the driver. Unlike many 3-wheelers at the time that were built as low performance vehicles the physics of the TriVette meant that it actually became more stable as its speed increased. In 1980 the Department of Transportation determined that the TriVette had a theoretical tip-over limit of 1.28 lateral "g", or a .5 lateral "g" safety margin over what the tires could deliver. This means the TriVette will slide long before it reaches the tip-over limit. This also meant the car actually out cornered many 4-wheeler sports cars like the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT, BMW 530i, Fiat X1/9, Lotus Elite, and a Porsche 911S. Combined with the excellent braking of the vehicle orders were being placed for TriVettes with more powerful engines.
The Turbo TriVettes use a high performance 220 hp engine whilst still maintaining the weight at 1,140 pounds. This allows the vehicle to travel from 0 - 60mph in 3.5 seconds (non-turbo models use the Honda Civic engine). Because of this high speed characteristics a high speed pursuit vehicle was made for the California Highway Patrol under a grant from the National Science Foundation.
In 1993 the first Vigillante prototype appeared and has to currently be the most powerful road 3-wheeler in the world. Powered by a 700 hp Chevy engine this two seater is an enhanced version of the TriVette. Sprinting from 0 - 60mph in just 3 seconds and with a top speed of over 200 mph the Vigillante is quicker on acceleration and braking than a £634,500 (over $1 million) McLaren F1 road car, and comparable in cornering. The car has a maximum theoretical tip-over limit is calculated to be 3.27 lateral "g" and so the car will slide long before it reaches its tip-over limit. The vehicle is made from a light weight aluminium, honeycomb, foam, and composite tub, whilst the body work is a composite of aircraft fibreglass, Kevlar and carbon fibre in an epoxy matrix helping to keep the weight of the Vigillante down to 1,480 pounds.
The Vigillante is still in production with vehicles being made to order and a new TriVette Two that utilises the Honda Civic power train has recently been launched in a kit form. The TriVette Two is powered by a number of engines that includes the standard 106 hp Honda Civic engine, VW Golf engine, Ford Taurus (3 litre V6) engine, Cadillac NorthStar V8 or a Small Block 350 Chevy engine resulting in astounding performance figures. The front subframe, steering and front suspension are almost identical to the Vigillante whilst the rear bulkhead back uses the TriVette philosophy of incorporating the entire drive train from an existing vehicle. The TriVette Two also uses the same canopy as the Vigillante. This can be removed so that the vehicle can be driven as an open motorcycle or fitted to give full weather protection.