Found on eBay: 1967 Daihatsu Tri-Mobile Microcar Pickup

March 22, 2008

Take this one as a hoot -- or a scary indicator of what CAFE will do to America's beloved pickup truck. It's a 1967 Daihatsu Tri-Mobile, a three-wheeler that's outfitted with 12 horsepower and a cute factor that eclipses any Corbin Sparrow.

The California seller says the Tri-Mobile is one of a wave of microcars from the 196s that "get more smiles per gallon" than any other car, and points to the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum as one of the few places you can see another example. Only a handful were made in left-hand drive and imported to the U.S., and this rust-free example is the only one we could find for sale after a half-hour cruising around on Google.

While we're not ready to give up our Prius just yet, the charms of the Tri-Mobile shine right through its peeling paint, applied over the original yellow color it was delivered in, as a vehicle used by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. On its third owner, the current title holder still has the original "pink slip." It sports two seats, a one-cylinder two-stroke engine, and a three-speed manual gearbox. Considered a three-wheel motorcycle truck by the California DMV, the Tri-Mobile only requires a regular old car license to operate on roads--but the wisdom of stepping into anything other than stop-and-go traffic is to be questioned.

The pickup bed on this one is in sturdy shape. There might be a dozen left in the U.S. and the owner says he doesn't doubt its clocked mileage of 23,161. So if you can get over the passing resemblance to the tuk-tuks that hammer around Bangkok, emitting more smoke than the trannie bar mamas, post your bid and maybe in three days, it'll be yours. Take that with your 35-mpg rules, Congress!

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