Teenage Hero: 1981 Tri-Magnum Kit Car – $5,500

by | May 2021 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

Well before the advent of the internet, most car enthusiasts and engineer wannabees read the latest copies of Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated in addition to their monthly assortment of automobile periodicals. In February 1983, I remember receiving my latest magazine of the latter and being enamored by this cover photo of the build-it-yourself Tri-Magnum three-wheeled kit car:

While the Internet helped kill cool magazines like this, on the plus side the blog Modern Mechanix actually scanned in the original article you can still read here. Back in the original article, the writer claimed a person with welding and fiberglass skills could build their own Tri-Magnum in about 300 hours.  I remember really wanting to build my own version of this three-wheeled, motor-cyle-based urban runabout and almost sent away for the plans.  However, the cost of college and no garage space conspired to kill that idea before it ever happened.

Some say you should never meet your heroes and coming across this 1981 completed Tri-Magnum here on here on Craigslist in Piggot, Arkansas for $5,500 is a prime example of why. The first disappointment is just how cobbled together this example’s canopies turned out versus the sleek design shown in the magazine. While the convertible top is an interesting take on the concept, the removable hardtop designed to fit it just looks cobbled together from a sheet of plexiglass. Second is the cramped interior with a Formula One-style driving position and exposed wiring.  While my nineteen-year-old self could have easily jumped in and out of this thing, my much older, heavier, and worn body would look just plain silly trying to contort to fit to drive it.

Another benefit of the Internet is that a quick search on YouTube found an interview of the designers of the Tri-Magnum actually driving the prototype featured in the magazine. Comparing their build to what we are featuring for sale, it’s easy to see why the designers predictions of selling 20,000-30,000 kit plans fell well short of that target:

While my dreams of owning a Tri-Magnum are now forever crushed, if you are serious about buying this piece of Malaise Era history, you can start the conversation by calling Gary at (870) 324-4124.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their TR-250 featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1981 TRI-MAGNUM—one of 360 kits sold—don’t know how many were completed—-has 1981 Honda Goldwing power & Title—Runs & DRIVES—Less than 5000 miles—-Has soft & hardtop—-has 3 or 4 minor bubbles in fiberglass—-has sat for a year or better but starts up & drives—-needs very little or drive as is—-$5500

Show or go: what would you do with this Tri-Magnum?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Steve

    Was allured to this as a kid. As I aged I learned there’s a lot of skills required to “build” a project as such. I have many but not all and the one I lack most is patience!

    Reply

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