Generally, there are many reasons why cars have exactly four wheels, the main one being that four wheels are the reasonable number that ensures stability without over-encumbering the vehicle with more moving parts than necessary.
However, automotive history is full of vehicles that had more than four wheels. Often, these cars were just something people made for themselves as a personal project using a regular 4-wheeled car. In addition, there are large car manufacturers and tuning houses that mass-produced vehicles with more than four wheels. The reason? Well, in case of off-road and all-terrain vehicles, adding more wheels improves traction and utility, while in other cases, adding more wheels can make the car accelerate faster, corner better, and, look cooler.
Similarly, there are cars with less than four wheels. In some cases, three-wheeled cars are made to be lighter, thus faster and able to corner at greater speeds when driving on the track. In other cases, cars are intentionally developed as three-wheelers in order to save costs, thus making these cars more accessible to masses. Also, three-wheeled cars are lighter than their four-wheeled counterparts, which makes them more economical. However, despite having one less wheel, many three-wheelers are bonkers to drive and look like a combination of the best parts of a car and a motorcycle, which guarantees a lot of turning heads while driving them.
20 Avtoros Shaman
Russia is known for many things but not so much for its cars. However, from time to time, some crazy dude comes up with an idea for a car and then tries to make something out of it. One of these cars is Avtoros Shaman, an eight-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicle that took over 10 years to develop, but the result looks totally worth it. According to Top Gear, which tested it in 2015, the car is powered by a 3-liter turbodiesel engine from Iveco that provides 176 bhp, which might be enough for a Polo or Fiesta but doesn’t create any sort of excitement under Avtoros Shaman’s bonnet. Its top speed is 50 mph, which isn't bad, considering that this machine weighs over 4 tons (8,000 pounds). However, buying the Shaman for speed and performance is like buying a Lamborghini for its practicality. The Avtoros Shaman does incredible things off-road with its eight wheels that can have the air pressure regulated for additional traction. Moreover, it seats eight, can swim, and has eight-wheel steering that allows it to go sideways. So, the Avtoros Shaman is definitely a fun and practical all-terrain vehicle, but it sucks on the tarmac, and you're unlikely to get one anyway because it costs $150,000. And that’s just crazy.
At first glance, the Eliica looks like a mix between a Citroen DS and a Tesla. If the Citroen DS styling is pretty obvious, the Tesla part comes in from of the fact that the car is fully electric and has gulf-wing rear doors. But Eliica, whose name is an abbreviation of “Electric Lithium-Ion Car,” takes things to a new level by having eight wheels, and each wheel has an electric motor inside it that generates around 80 hp, according to Jalopnik. At least that’s what we know about the car since it didn’t make it to production. Eliica was a project by a team of engineers at Keio University in Kanagawa led by professor Hiroshi Shimizu. The car represented a refined model of professor Shimizu’s previous concept called "KAZ" (which stands for “peace” in Japanese). In 2004, Eliica managed to reach a speed of 230 mph, and the team aimed to exceed 250 mph. It also accelerated from 0 to 60 in four seconds, which was faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo at the time. Even though there were rumors that the car might make it into production with a price tag of $255,000, nothing has been heard about the project in many years.
18 Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6X6
The Mercedes G 63 AMG 6x6 started life as a military, six-wheel drive version of the Mercedes G 320 CDI, which was developed for the Australian army in 2011. The styling resembles the traditional G-Wagen, which has been in production for civilians since 1979, without any major changes on the outside. The rugged outside of the G63 AMG 6x6, which represents a double-cab pickup, is complemented by the high performance on the off-road.
According to Autocar, the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 has a six-wheel drive and five electronic differential locks that can be engaged by switches on the dashboard and can provide 100% lockup of all six wheels, low-range gearing, and a tire control system for standard 37-inch wheels.
Compared to the military G 320 that comes with a 3-liter V6 diesel, under the bonnet of the G63 is an AMG twin-turbocharged V8 that develops 536 bhp and has 560 lb-ft of torque, which is just enough to drive around the 3.78-ton vehicle. The engine is connected to a 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission. Of course, being a Mercedes AMG, it has a luxurious interior covered in Alcantara with four individual sports seats. Price tag? The car was produced on a limited basis and cost a whopping $503,300.
17 Hennessey VelociRaptor 6X6
The Ford F-150 is currently in its 13th generation and has been the bestselling vehicle in the US since 1977. In addition to the standard F-150, Ford also offers a high-performance version, the F-150 Raptor, which, in addition to lots of off-road equipment, comes with a twin-turbo 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engine that develops 450 hp and a 10-speed automatic gearbox, which can take this beast from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver. However, all this wasn't enough for John Hennessey and his team at Hennessey Performance, which released a buffed-up F-150 Raptor, aptly called the "VelociRaptor." To take things even further, Hennessey has developed a six-wheel-drive version of the VelociRaptor. Like the standard, the 6x6 VelociRaptor starts life as a standard F-150 Raptor but gets its frame extended to accommodate an extra axle. The VelociRaptor uses the same 3.5 V6 engine but gives it upgraded twin-turbochargers and other modifications so it develops 600 hp and 622 lb-ft of torque, according to Autoblog. After all the modifications, this impressive machine can go from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds, which is faster than the standard Raptor. This is mightily impressive, considering that the modifications add an extra 1,000 pounds of weight, taking it to almost 7,000 pounds.
16 Covini C6W
The idea to develop the Covini C6W came in 1974 from Ferruccio Covini, the founder of Italian carmaker Covini Engineering, who was inspired by the Tyrell P34, a Formula 1 car that had four small wheels in front to reduce drag and increase air penetration, according to Jalopnik. Ferruccio Covini argued that fitting six wheels in a sports car results in less risk of front tires deflating and aquaplaning, as well as better grip and braking. However, the project was put on hold until the 1980s due to technical deficiencies, according to Serious Wheels.
In the 1980s, the project was revived with the introduction of hydro-pneumatic suspension for the four front wheels to allow for better weight distribution.
After being delayed due to high development costs and other problems, the first C6W was shown in 2004, and a year later, the company presented a revised version at the Geneva Motor Show, according to Jalopnik. In 2010, the company started making the C6W in very limited numbers. The C6W is rear-wheel drive powered by a nice 4.2-liter V8 Audi engine that develops 433 hp and 346 lb-ft of torque that go through a six-speed manual gearbox, which together, helps this vehicle reach a top speed of 185 mph.
15 TREKOL 6x6
The TREKOL 6x6 (official name: TREKOL-39294) is another beast of a vehicle that comes from Russia. According to the manufacturer’s website, the six-wheeled beast comes in a passenger version that can carry up to eight people, as well as a pickup freight version. The TREKOL is powered by either a Russian ZMZ 2.7-liter gasoline engine that develops 128 hp as standard or, optionally, by one of two Hyundai 2.5-liter diesel engines that develop either 83 hp of 99 hp. All cars are fitted with a Hyundai 5-speed manual gearbox and have a two-speed inter-axle differential transfer case.
It has a light fiberglass body to reduce weight to 2.80 tons, and it develops a top speed of 70 mph on the tarmac.
But it’s off-road where the car really shines. The TREKOL 6x6 uses ultra low-pressure tires to improve its off-road capabilities. The fiberglass body, in addition to being light, also has a low thermal conductivity, which makes the car well-suited for driving at both very low and very high temperatures. In addition to excellent off-road capabilities, TREKOLs are fitted with a water jet that allows it to navigate through water. The price of this rugged beast starts at $49,000 and goes up to $56,000, excluding any optional extras like a winch, heated seats, central air pump for all six wheels, air conditioning, etc.
14 Bureko 6x6
The Bureko 6x6 looks like a Hummer, although it isn't based on one. Instead, the car that's manufactured by the Czech manufacturer Bureone S.R.O. is based on a Land Rover Discovery 4 and comes in either a 4x4 or a 6x6 configuration, according to 6 Wheel Drive. The Hummer's looks are inspired by the Hummer HX a two-door offroad concept that was revealed by GM in 2008. The Bureko 6x6 uses a stock engine from a donor Land Rover Discovery, a 3-liter V6 turbo diesel that develops 256 hp and has the stock 8-speed automatic Land Rover/ZF gearbox. The first and third axles are driven permanently, while the second axle can be engaged by a pneumatic clutch. The car develops a top speed of 112 mph and goes from zero to 60 in 10 seconds. In addition to using an engine and a gearbox, as well as the air suspension from the Land Rover it's based on, the Bureko 6x6 also has the dashboard and the interior parts from the donor vehicle. According to Drivetribe, the Bureko creator, Francis Janes, built the first car with no skills in mechanical engineering or design, but the result was very successful, and they sold 20 vehicles, mostly to Russia and Dubai. On the company’s website, they're currently teasing a Bureko Hennessey 6x6, which will be announced in autumn, and we're looking forward to it.
13 Panther 6
Panther Westwinds was a British manufacturer of sports and luxury cars. It made a bunch of cars between 1972 and 1990 and even tried making a hovercraft, whose fate is unknown, according to Wikipedia. Despite the cool name, cool cars, and a potential hovercraft, the company didn't survive, with the brand being acquired by South Korean industrialist Young C. Kim, which restarted production of three models. In 1987, Kim’s Jindo Corporation sold its interest in Panther to SsangYong. In 2001, Robert Jankel, the founder of Panther, bought back the name and was working on a new sports car when he died in 2005. Between 1977 and 1978, Panther made the Six, a six-wheeled convertible coupe. According to Wikipedia, similar to the aforementioned Covini C6W, the Panther Six was inspired by the Tyrrell P34, having two rear wheels with 265/50 VR16 tires and four steerable front wheels with 205/40 VR13 tires.
The car was mid-engined and powered by an enormous 8.2-liter Cadillac V8 with twin turbochargers.
According to some reports, the Panther 6 could reach 200 mph, but no reliable tests have been conducted. Being a convertible, the Panther 6 came either with a detachable hardtop or a convertible soft top, and it also had electronic instruments, air conditioning, electric seats, windows, a telephone, and a television set. Its price is unknown, but only two cars were built, both of which are still known to be around, one being in Saudi Arabia.
12 Kahn Flying Huntsman
The Land Rover Defender, one of the best off-road vehicles, is known for its rugged looks and robust built. To take the Defender to a whole new level, Kahn Design built this massive 6x6 called the "Kahn Flying Huntsman" that's based on a Defender Double Cab Pick Up. According to Kahn, the Flying Huntsman 6x6 started as a Defender 110 and was stretched to accommodate an extra axle, a heavy-duty chassis, and an upgraded suspension and braking system. To go from point A to point B, the Flying Huntsman is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 GM engine that develops 430 hp channeled through a GM six-speed automatic gearbox.
The guys at Kahn didn’t stop at adding an extra pair of wheels and upgrading the engine, the gearbox, the chassis, the suspension, and other parts that make the Flying Huntsman an ultimate off-roader.
They also went inside the car and added GTB Sports seats, re-upholstered rood headlining in quilted black leather; added a bespoke steering wheel; changed the passenger dashboard side; and added aluminum vented pedals. Painting the car in Santorini Black, adding Shadow Chrome headlights, and putting Chelsea Truck Company’s 1945 Retro Alloy wheels finished in matte black were all great choices and give the car a fierce look.
11 'Self-Parking' Packard Cavalier
Parallel parking can create difficulties when cars are fitted with ultra-light steering and have huge turning circles. It must've been a total nightmare in the US in the '50s when roads were crowded with huge Chevrolet Bel Airs and Hudson Hornets. That’s why a guy named "Brooks Walker" decided to change parallel parking forever. While now, cars have sensors and cameras and other gizmos that can operate the pedals and the steering wheel to get the car to park itself, Walker used the technology that was available at the time and created several concepts that used the car’s spare tire for parking. According to Old Cars Weekly, the basics of the technology involved having the tire in the trunk connect to the passenger-side rear tire via belts and braces. When parking the car, this fifth wheel would be lowered, which would lift and slide the back of the car. Walker patented the technology and, in 1953, installed the system to his own Packard Cavalier, which is currently the only known example of the system. Brooks claimed that the technology could be installed on any vehicle, but none of the car manufacturers were interested, probably because it significantly reduced the size of the trunk and put a lot of strain on the front wheels. Over the years, Brooks developed and patented several variations of car parking and installed the system on a bunch of vehicles.
10 Reliant Robin
If you watched Top Gear, then you've definitely heard about the Reliant Robin. In the fourth episode of the ninth season, Richard Hammond and James May took up the challenge of transforming a Reliant Robin into a Space Shuttle with many amusing results (it crashed to the ground). In the first episode of the 15th season, Jeremy Clarkson drove the Robin and rolled over in it a lot. Watching that episode, it looked kind of obvious that the Reliant Robin wouldn’t be able to stay up because of its weird construction that had two wheels at the back and one at the front. According to Wikipedia, despite the apparent lack of stability, the Robin was very popular in the UK. It was in production for 30 years, with three versions being manufactured, and its predecessor, the Reliant Regal had a similar wheel configuration and was in production between 1953 and 1973. In fact, the Robin was the second-most-popular car with a fiberglass body in history. The Robin was initially offered with a 750 cc engine but was later upgraded to having an 850 cc one. It had a top speed of 85 mph, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but, considering that it’s a car that can roll over if you turn the wheel too strongly, 85 mph is definitely more than enough.
9 BMW Isetta
The BMW Isetta was a microcar designed by Italian firm Iso SpA in the early 1950s. The company also made refrigerators, and it shows in the design. BMW licensed the production of the Isetta from Iso and made it the first mass-produced car that could reach a fuel consumption of 78 mpg, according to Wikipedia. The original Isetta was powered by a 236 cc two-stroke motorcycle engine that developed 9.5 hp, allowing the car to go from zero to 31 mph in 30 seconds and achieve a top speed of 47 mph. BMW made some changes to the car and replaced the engine with its own one-cylinder four-stroke 247 cc motorcycle engine that produced 12 hp.
Even though on the outside, the BMW Isetta had the same refrigerator-like look, underneath, the car was re-engineered, so much so that the parts between the BMW and the ISO Isettas weren’t interchangeable.
In 1956, after changes in German regulations, BMW increased the engine size to 298 ccs, and that increased the power output to 13 hp. The top speed remained unchanged at 53 mph, but a slightly bigger engine made it easier to drive, especially uphill. In Germany, the BMW Isetta could be driven with a motorcycle license. However, it should be noted that the German BMW Isetta had four wheels. The three-wheeled version of the Isetta 300 was introduced in the UK by Isetta of Great Britain under license from BMW. The advantage of having three wheels allowed the British Isetta to be classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle, thus allowing drivers to not be subjected to automobile legislation and taxation.
8 Morgan Three-Wheeler
At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan founded the Morgan Motor Company. The British company started producing three-wheeled cars and then moved to regular sports cars like the Roadster, the Morgan Aero 8, the AeroMax, and other vehicles known for their classic styling and traditional design elements, according to Wikipedia. In 2011, Morgan re-launched three-wheelers. The three-wheelers of the past were made from wood (both chassis and body), and as the company carried some of its traditions through ages, it continues to use wood in the construction of its vehicles, with the car featuring a tubular steel chassis and an aluminum body put on an ash framework, according to Autocar.
The Morgan Three-Wheeler is a street-legal car, so from a regulation standpoint, there's no problem using it as a daily driver.
However, it’s the racetrack that the car shines on. Powered by an American S&S 2-liter V Twin engine connected to a Mazda 5-speed gearbox, the car develops 68 bhp in European versions and 82 bhp in the US version. The car goes from zero to sixty in six or seven seconds, depending on the model, and can reach a top speed of 115 mph. Morgan is also working on an electric version of the three-wheeler, and that's expected sometime this year.
At first glance, the SOLO looks like a car that designers started to work on but then, something more important came up, so they quickly finished it and moved on to other things. The fact that it has just one wheel at the back makes it look like it was chopped in the middle and that it’s just half of a car driving. Nonetheless, the SOLO might find its place in automotive history. The car was developed by the Canadian company Electra Mechanica and costs just $15,000 before the tax credit and other incentives, according to CNET. This is very cheap for a fully electric vehicle that has a range of 100 miles and can be charged in 3 hours from a 220-volt outlet. The SOLO seats just one person and it's classified as a motorcycle; therefore, drivers might be required by law to wear a helmet, which is weird, considering that it has an enclosed body and not a lot of space inside. The SOLO is powered by a 16 kWh battery that provides the equivalent of 82 hp. Despite the small power output, the car can go from 0 to 62 mph in 8 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 81 mph, but the manufacturer claims that it can go to up to 137 mph. The car has an aerospace composite chassis and has a weight of just 992 pounds.
6 Elio P4
The Elio P4 is the child of Elio Motors, which tried to make an efficient and affordable car for US roads. According to Autoguide, the Elio P4 is a prototype powered by a 1.0-liter Suzuki Engine connected to a three-speed automatic transmission, but the next P5 model is expected to have a 0.9-liter engine provided by German company IAV and a five-speed gearbox, either manual or clutchless sequential automatic. The P5 is projected to reach 60 mph in 9.6 seconds and reach a top speed of over 100 mph, although the developers’ main focus is consumption, which is projected at 49 mpg in the city and 84 mpg on the highway. Elio Motors started to take orders for the car back in 2016 and received over 56,000 reservations, according to Autoguide. However, last year, Jalopnik wrote that Elio needed $376 million to move into production and that the company laid off a lot of its staff. In April, US online commerce company Overstock bought from Elio $2.50 million worth of shares. In a press release, Overstock CEO Patrick M. Byrne said that he believes in Elio’s vision and business model to build a $7,500 ultra-fuel-efficient car and that it's going to be a win for America.
5 Carver One
We intentionally picked this image, and no, the Carver One presented in it is neither broken nor crashed. In fact, the image highlights Carver One’s main feature: tilting.
According to CNET, the car uses a special hydraulic tilting mechanism that allows it to lean through corners.
In this way, you can enjoy the excitement of going around the corners or changing lanes at an angle similar to a motorcycle or a Reliant Robin without being worried that you might topple over. The main feature of the Carver One is its steering. The steering wheel controls the direction of the front wheel, as well as both rear wheels. Moreover, steering is also responsible for how much the car tilts. The maximum angle on either side is 45 degrees, and the car can tilt from one side to the other in just one second. The Carver One has a 660 cc four-cylinder engine that provides around 68 hp, which is enough considering that the car weighs just 1,418 pounds. It can go from zero to 60 in 8.5 seconds, can reach a top speed of 115 mph, and has a fuel-consumption figure of just 39 mpg. The car was revealed by the Dutch company Carver in 2007 and was sold at $35,000. However, because of the high price, the sales figures weren’t very impressive, and Carver declared bankruptcy in 2009, according to Motor Authority. Carver has recently been reborn and is currently working on an electric vehicle that'll have an improved tilting system.
4 Model Sondors
Model Sondors is another car that looks like it was cut down the middle and fitted with a third wheel at the back to make sure that it can still be driven. The choice of body style was probably because Sondors Electric Car Company never developed a car before. Instead, Sondors is known as the largest electric bike maker in the US. Therefore, when the team set up to design a car, they probably started with the front, got very pleased with the result, and decided to stop there so that they wouldn’t accidentally repeat the mistake of the designers of the last-gen Honda Civic. Obviously, this isn't true because the Model Sondors’s rear doesn’t look so bad, fittingly resembling a motorcycle. And the shape actually improves its aerodynamics, according to Top Speed. In addition, the three-wheeled configuration means that the car is easier to register and has less weight, which is crucial, considering that it’s a fully electric vehicle. The Model Sondors seats three people and can accelerate from zero to 60 between five and eight seconds, depending on the chosen battery pack. Sondors anticipates that the car will have a range starting from 75 miles and will go up to 150 miles and 200 miles. The Model Sondors is currently under development, and the company expects that prices will start at around $10,000.
3 Campagna T-REX
The Campagna T-REX was developed by Canadian company Campagna Motors and has been available since the early 1990s, according to Wikipedia. Initially, the car was powered by a 1.4-liter inline-four Kawasaki engine. On the company’s website, two models are currently available. The first, called the "V13R," comes with a 122 hp Harley Davidson V Twin Engine connected to a sequential five-speed gearbox. The car weighs just 1,160 pounds and goes from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds.
Prices for the V13R start at $53,999. The second Campagna model is called the "T-REX 16SP." It's powered by a BMW six-cylinder engine that provides 160 hp and comes with an electronic torque control that adjusts the delivery of torque depending on driving style and road conditions.
The T-REX 16SP has a sequential six-speed gearbox and the same weight as the V13R. In this way, the T-REX 16SP can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds. Because of the low center of gravity and fully adjustable suspensions, the T-REX can take up to 1.3 G lateral acceleration in a curve. The prices for the T-REX start at $65,999—a lot of money for a car that can be registered as a motorcycle.
2 Vanderhall Laguna
The Vanderhall Laguna is a two-seater, three-wheeled roadster made by Vanderhall. According to the company’s website, prices for the Laguna start at $49,950. However, Vanderhall also offers a cheaper version, called the "Venice," which is priced at $29,950. The company also accepts pre-orders for the Edison2, a fully electric three-wheeled roadster. The Edison2 will have a 30-kilowatt lithium battery and will develop the equivalent of 180 hp. Due to the low weight of just 1,400 pounds, the Edison2 will have a range of 200 miles and will be able to accelerate from zero to 60 in just 4 seconds. Prices for the Edison2 will start at $34,950. In addition, Vanderhall has announced the Speedster, which will be its cheapest model at $26,950. The Laguna, the Venice, and the Speedster have a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts. Compared to most other three-wheelers, Vanderhalls are front-wheel drive. While prices for the Laguna can reach up to $85,000, according to CNBC, lower starting prices mean that either the Laguna or another Vanderhall will have most fun per dollar you can get from a three-wheeler, and it allows the company to take on the most fun three-wheeler out there, the Morgan three-wheeler.
1 Polaris Slingshot
What happens when a well-known maker of snowmobiles and ATVs decides to make a car? You end up with an aggressive and awesome-looking Polaris Slingshot. The Slingshot looks like something Batman would drive on a daily basis because the Batmobile is just too bulky and difficult to park on the crowded streets of Gotham. According to the Slingshot website, it's available in several versions. Prices for the Slingshot start at $19,999 for the S model and can go up to $29,999 for a Grand Touring LE version that has some kind of doors and $30,999 for an SLR LE model, the price not a lot compared to some other high-performance three-wheelers, and you'll definitely get your “bang for the buck” in terms of fun, experience, and turning heads as you drive along. As standard, the Slingshot is fitted with a GM Ecotec 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that develops 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque connected to a 5-speed synchromesh gearbox. On first sight, 173 hp doesn't sound very impressive, but as we've already seen in the previously discussed three-wheelers, for a car that doesn’t weigh a lot, it’s more than enough. The Polaris Slingshot is no exception to low weightiness, having only 1,800 pounds. The company doesn't provide performance figures, but Car and Driver estimates that it goes from zero to 60 in under five seconds.
Sources: Topgear.com; Jalopnik.com; Autocar.co.uk