Everyone has their kinks. Mine is a bit unusual, and to be honest, if I was rich enough I’d invite cute babes to come out my special room. That room would be filled with 3 Wheeled trucks from around the world.
Pictured above is the Bremach MB1, a combination of combinations. Originally Aeronautica Macchi, a war plane and oddly scooter manufacturer as well. The company changed hands a few times. During this process someone decided to make a truck out of scooter and plane parts. Thus the MB1 was born. If you’re curious, yes that is front landing gear as standard steering gear on this thing. It’s of course Italian; the cultural originators of the 3 wheeled truck.
As a neat side, Aermacchi was once owned by Harley Davidson. Producing abstract but interesting motorcycles. This was a strange era of Harley, as they produced not only their typical large American motorcycles, but they also made many small engine vehicles. Producing Golf carts, mini bikes, mopeds and even scooters.
What gets really complicated is Harley Davidson’s ties to another 3 wheeled truck manufacturer, Cushman. Cushman is a a company founded the same year as Harley, 1903. Producing small engines for many years, they eventually got into building scooters. Harley eventually worked with Cushman to create a Harley branded scooter, the Topper. a 165cc pull start scooter, debuting in 1960.
What’s funny about Cushman though, is that they too, made a 3 wheeled truck, called the “Truckster”. It was quite similar to all the rest of the era! The Truckster had all the functionality of it’s Italian brethren, with none of the styling. It funny, enough outlasted them all, being produced until 2002!
There’s a problem developing here though, a Chicken or Egg issue. Which one of these 3 wheeled commercial vehicles came first? Before we get to that, let’s toss another one into the mix for pleasure.
Pictured above is a Mazdago. Mazda’s very first vehicle they ever produced. Considered an “Autorickshaw” the idea was to take the strain off a human pulling a cart, but making the cart motorized. This wasn’t a new idea to the west, but for Japan, and much of Asian it was a huge step. By the mid 1930’s Japan was shipping lots of Autorickshaws to other Asian countries. Was this a 3 Wheeled motorcycle or the an early example of our 3 Wheeled truck theme?
Pictured above is a Daihatsu Midget. Another 3 wheel commercial vehicle empowering the far east. Daihatsu would eventually take over Asia’s smaller commercial vehicle territory with their small displacement engines.
The Mazda “T” series truck. Sold in T1100, T1500, and the HUGE T2000 size. These signified roughly the load they could carry. The T2000 was so big it could carry it’s smaller Kei-car version, the Mazda K360, inside the bed of the T2000. You’ll see the K360 pictured below, and an awesome article on the T series truck here.
Another great, and even more iconic Italian-3-Wheeled-truck, was also produced by also scooter company. Piaggio, directly associated with Vespa, produced one of my all time favorites. The Piaggio Ape, was a Kei-sized micro truck designed to use primarily scooter parts from Piaggio/Vespas. It’s a industrial icon of Italy.
Although many companies beat Piaggio to the punch, the Ape pictured above was what took much of Asia by storm. Since much of that part of the world grew their industry to what it is today using 3 wheeled commercial vehicles, they still produce them. Interestingly enough, a few people have snuck them into North America for sale as ‘motorcycles’. I was really excited to find accessible, modern, 3 wheeled commerical vehicles for sale on my continent. Sold as WildFire WF650C for car, and WF650T for truck, these were just Jiangsu Sandi Motorcycle Company models imported and rebadged locally. I’d love to own one!