Australian designed, Ford Festiva engined three wheeler

A three wheeler powered by a transversely mounted WE Ford Festiva engine, this vehicle is fully licensed and guaranteed to have chiropractors rubbing their hands together with all the rubbernecking it causes.

Let's get the two-seater's vital statistics out of the way first. With the stock Festiva engine (just 46kW) and gearbox, it gets to 100kmh in around eight seconds. It was built in WA and is the only one in existence. Why? Its creator Ken Seeber, of Wanneroo, is the best man to explain. "I have built a number of racing motorbikes over the years, but I have always wanted to build something for the road," he said. "But I didn't want to build something conventional." An engineer at the Orbital Engine Company, Mr Seeber was part of the team that helped build the company's Ford Festiva Genesis cars.

This involved replacing the standard Festiva engine and gearbox with an Orbital two-stroke engine and a much stronger gearbox. The result was almost 100 Festivas that were more powerful and fuel efficient, but with the same number of conventional, new engines and gearboxes simply lying on the factory floor. "I did a deal, with a carton of beer here and there -- I did pay some money -- and then bought all the Festiva hubs and brakes from a wrecker," Mr Seeber said. Then, the car and motorcycle parts were mixed.

In standard motorcycle practice, it has a right hand front brake lever, right hand throttle twist grip and right foot rear brakes. The lefthand handlebar has motorcycle switches for the high-low beam, horn and indicators. But like a car, there is a left foot clutch and left hand gear lever. The linkage has been reversed so the gears can be selected from in front of the engine instead of from behind. Mr Seeber designed the front suspension to accept an automotive disc brake, in this case from a Holden Gemini TD. The hub was chosen because it had the same stud pattern as the Festiva's, allowing interchange of the front and rear wheels.

Connected to the hub via the Gemini suspension balljoints is a big section aluminium strut that supports a compression spring over a Koni adjustable damper. In the rear, the Festiva suspension was welded directly to the custombuilt frame, which is all mild steel. The 28-litre fuel tank is mounted in the length of the frame.

Throughout the Strike's construction, its engine's humble origins were always in the back of his mind. "Festiva's are not that powerful, so I had to build something light," he said. He did, too. At 448kg, the Strike weighs less than half of a standard Festiva and its weight distribution is surprisingly good, with 190kg on the front wheel and 130kg on each of the back wheels. A friend in the licensing department was particularly helpful in preparing the Strike for crunch time at the inspection bay. "Reno Marchesi, who has been involved with some of the Orbital vehicles, looked over the sketches for me before I started," Mr Seeber said. "He came to see it three times during its construction and made sure it adhered to all the design rules."

Article by Alex Forrest - The West Australian 14 Aug 99

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