Sep 5, 2013

2013 Campagna T-Rex 16S

Canada’s Prehistoric Predator Gets Longer Arms

Without a doubt, the three-wheel Campagna T-Rex 16S is one of the most fascinating vehicles I have ever driven.

“Drive it like a car, but act like you are on a motorcycle,” were the words of wisdom bestowed upon me before the keys were handed over, and the advice couldn’t have been more accurate. During the next four days, I zipped blissfully around town with the wind blowing through my hair as I watched the front wheels articulate over the pavement. I could smell the ocean as I drove down Pacific Coast Highway, and taste the dry brush of the Santa Monica Mountains as I toured the canyons.

I also took a bumble bee in the cheek, was nearly squashed by an inattentive driver in a Toyota Camry, cut off by a Ford F-150 and I was stared down by the law at every opportunity.

Apparently, that’s the price of having the wind blow through your hair as you mount a low-slung, agile steed with a very unique three-wheel configuration.

Campagna Motors has been hand-building three-wheel side-by-side vehicles since 1995. Based in Montréal, Canada, the company’s claim to fame are its small tube-frame cars that are based on motorcycle mechanicals. To date, they have put about 1,600 units on the road. Avid readers will recall that we sampled the $48,000 V13R, with the heart of a Harley-Davidson, in October 2011. The following summer we drove the $58,000 T-Rex 14R, a hot little handful fitted with the four-cylinder mechanicals of a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14. But things have progressed, in a slightly more civilized manner, as the manufacturer has inked an agreement with BMW Group to supply liquid-cooled motorcycle crate motors for its new model, the $62,000 T-Rex 16S.

The inline six-cylinder engine, sourced from BMW Motorrad, is rated at 160 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed sequential manual gearbox is also BMW’s, but Campagna has embedded its own reverse gear inside BMW’s housing to improve drivability. BMW uses shaft-drives, but it would have been too low for the chassis so a chain drive was implemented instead. The motorcycle transmission, clutch, brakes and throttle operation have also been adapted to mimic the controls in a car – there are three pedals on the floor and a shift lever between the two passengers.

Construction of the chassis is entirely comprised of steel tube frames, with a sturdy sheet metal floor and fiberglass body panels. The wheels are cast aluminum, in 16- and 18-inch diameters, made by Enkei. The tires are performance-oriented BF Goodrich KDW rubber, sized 205/45ZR16 in the front and 295/35ZR18 in the rear (incredibly, Campagna only puts 16-18 psi of air in each tire as they are so lightly loaded). There are Wilwood monobloc calipers at all three corners clamping down on drilled iron rotors. The plastic pods on each side of the engine are for storage, think of them twin strap-on trunks, and each is removable. Its curb weight is a mere 1,100 pounds.
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