Sixteen years ago, a little company operating out of Texas made news with a distinctive vehicle. The Thoroughbred Stallion promised comfort, style, and good fuel economy. It’s a trike with three wheels, a steering wheel, and an air-conditioner. And the best part? It’s more or less an old Ford Ranger compacted down into a three-wheeler.
I always love when readers send me vehicles that I haven’t seen before. You lovely readers have been sending me buses, motorcycles, and even Smarts. Keep it up! This creation is the find of reader and good friend Austin Little, and it sure is something.
There are lots of articles from a decade or longer ago talking about the Thoroughbred Stallion. But oddly, none of them ever really got into just what buyers got when they bought one of these. I was surprised to find that a car engine powers the trike, then I couldn’t believe it when I realized that this was way more than that.
In 2006, an east Texas company called Motor Trike made headlines with its newest creation. The company, then known for turning popular two-wheeled motorcycles into three-wheelers, decided to make its own trike. Thoroughbred Motorsports, a subsidiary of Motor Trike, announced the Stallion. As KLTV reported in 2006, the company was setting itself up to double in size with twice the workforce. And what would they be building?
The Thoroughbred Stallion was unlike its parent company’s offerings. Instead of taking an existing motorcycle and converting it, the Stallion would be of the company’s own creation. As Autoblog reported back then, the Stallion features a frame and suspension of the company’s design. The sleek, futuristic bodywork was of the company’s design, too.
Motor Trike owner, Jeff Vey, told KLTV that riding it was like driving an exotic car. He even went so far as to say that it had the power-to-weight ratio as a Chevrolet Corvette, from KLTV:
It has a steering wheel, heat, air conditioning, and cruise control. And for its size, has the power of a Corvette.
Owner Jeff Vey went after comfort, style, and fuel economy — as much as 55 miles-per-gallon on the highway.
But how would this custom trike do all of this? News reports of the day just said that the trike was powered by a 2.3-liter Ford four coupled to a five-speed automatic. Output was rated at 143 or 150 horsepower and 160 lb-ft torque depending on the outlet that you read.
As someone who loves both cars and motorcycles, this intrigued me. But none of the period’s news stories ever said just where that engine and transmission came from. And come to think of it, more current reports don’t say, either.
Then it hit me, a Ford 2.3-liter making roughly 150 horses? That sounds like one of the engine options for the third-generation Ranger! And sure enough, the specs do match.
Just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I threw “Ford Ranger” into my searches for the trike’s engine. Sure enough, results included owners looking for manuals and parts for their Ranger-powered trikes.
Under the plastics of a Thoroughbred Stallion resides a 2.3-liter Ford Duratec 23 inline four. This engine is also known as the Mazda L engine.
It’s an engine that was used in Fords and Mazdas alike from the Ford Focus to the Mazda MPV. And as Ford Authority notes, it served as the basis for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost.
Alright, so a trike powered by a small truck engine would be pretty cool enough, but there’s so much more than that going on.
Owners seeking to repair their own Stallions have found out that their trikes aren’t just using a Ranger’s engine, but the truck’s transmission, rear end, and electrical system, too. Thus, owners looking to repair their trikes just end up buying a 2007 Ford Ranger service manual.
And it doesn’t stop there. The trike has the entire steering column and gauge cluster lifted right out of the Ranger, turn stalk and all.
Small companies raiding the parts bins of a big auto manufacturer are nothing new. But I haven’t seen it quite to this level. It’s as if Thoroughbred Motorsports just lifted all of the guts of a Ranger and plopped them down into its custom frame. And that’s not a dig; I actually love this thing!
Comforts with a Stallion include leather seating for the rider (driver?) and a passenger, working air-conditioning, wind protection, a radio, cruise control, and adjustable pedals. It even has a tow hitch, power brakes, and an air suspension. Forums suggest that even the air-conditioner was ripped out of the 2007 Ranger, which makes sense.
[Editor’s Note: I thought those might be early late ’90s/early 2000s BMW taillights but no, I think they may, somehow, be unique to this thing? Damn.
Wait! The Bishop helped me to ID them!
They’re Acura lights! – JT]
I’ve found zero magazine road tests for the Thoroughbred Stallion, but owners seem to love the things.
This is more or less a car that doesn’t have a roof and gets 45 mpg. And at 1,736 pounds, it’s heavier than some Japanese kei cars. Some motorcycle riders say that riding a Honda Gold Wing is like driving a car. But even the Gold Wing doesn’t go as far as this.
Sales of the Stallion started in 2007, briefly stopped between November 2011 and October 2012, then finished out in 2013. Thoroughbred Motorsports didn’t release production numbers, but noted that 2011 production stop was due to low demand. Owners believe that just 930 left the line. Amazingly, the site for the trike is still up and advertising a $33,995 base price. For $1,995 more you could get a Stallion with fake wood or fake carbon fiber trim.
There is no official explanation for what happened to Thoroughbred Motorsports, but one thing is for sure, its source of parts dried up. Production on the third-generation Ranger ended at the end of 2011, leaving Thoroughbred without most of what it needed to build Stallions.
Amazingly, despite the rarity, you can find a ton of these for sale. Included here are links for seven that I found with a simple search on Facebook. Chances are there is at least one for sale near you. If you have one of these, send me an email. I’d love to swing a leg over it and see what riding an open-air Ford Ranger is like!
I had an old shriner couple at my old job, they liked trikes, so they got one of these. It always looked tippy to me, but they never had trouble with it, other than typical Ford under hood things and then the tight quarters to get tot he parts. I always kind of thought it should have a Targa roof panel for rainy days out on the road.
Tow hitch will be useful. Mum and Dad up in front and the screamers in the caravan behind…
“Owners seeking to repair their own Stallions…”
Wait, you can repair these? I was told mine went to live on a nice sunny farm in the countryside.
Why? Just why?
I thought the point of a trike was to be a motorcycle for the balance impaired. This seems like the answer to the question “what if I designed a convertible, but less stable and less safe?”
Another wheel and side by side seating, a roof; then maybe we can talk
Nothing says “I flunked Physics” like a big power trike.
Very cool. Never knew about this. I think, after seeing the price, that a Polaris Slingshot is a better value for an exotic 3 wheeler.
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and you still could not afford this er ah em ahra vehicle.
Cool but not good enough for the compromises.
1st Gen aluminum Insight with a K series swap and battery removal weighs around 1500-1600lbs and has a roof and power windows, a sound system, and a sweet manual transmission (or auto if thats your thing).
Just as fast, room for turbo, comfortable driving position, air conditioning, and that sweet feeling you can have it forever as it will never rust out like regular cars with steel frames.
I have a customer who owns a blue one. He likes it, it’s a few small issues that I’ve helped him address. The shift interlock solenoid failed, shifter is sourced from a Ford Focus, easy fix. Had a stoplight switch failure too, again simple deal. There’s a a lot going on under the “hood” so to speak. Neatly built for sure and a bit of a oddity.
Saw one of these parked in the local McDonald’s parking lot months ago, The first glance from the back said Honda Taillights, so no surprise that they are from an Acura. I was surprised to see all the Ford parts in the cockpit as I had expected to see Honda stuff based on those taillights. Of course once I got home I had to google it and the fact that it used a Ford engine and trans explained all the Ford parts supporting it.
“Chances are there is at least one for sale near you.”
Even though I’m a confirmed owner of three-wheeled vehicles (American Microcar Tri-Ped and HMV Freeway), these are a bit too large, powerful, comfortable, and pricey for my tastes.
Amusingly we also have a low mileage one for sale close by.
Just based on depreciation, that thing cost $4.08/mile for the mileage he put on that thing.
I house I pass on the way to/from work had one of these for sale on the front lawn for most of the summer, not sure if it’s still there or not, will have to check when I get back from vacation.
I mainly remembered them from their weirdly low production value commercials that they’d air during late night TV in the mid/late ’00s, not sure if they were from Throughbred themselves or a local dealer, but they looked like they could have been recorded to VHS in the mid ’80s
I’m impressed they got that motor into the front. That must have been a packaging challenge.
I was wondering why they used a truck as a starting point, then I realized, given the typical trike buyer, they needed the payload rating. /s
Not so much s/ a truth
I kinda like that blue one with the flame job and the audacity (irony?) to put Mustang badges on the back.
It’s cool in a dorky way, if that makes any sense. I’d like to take this for a drive to try it, but have no interest in owning and I felt that even before seeing the used prices! Still, they’re so different and there are so few of them that I’m sure the demand keeps the prices up.
It’s got to be weird to drive/ride. The sensations of straddling the seat like a bike, but steering with a wheel, not handlebars, would totally mess with my head.
At least you get a cup holder for each testicle.
What better way to cool your junk on a hot day than with two ice cold cans of Mtn Dew?
Were they able to waterproof the ford controls?
Bam! That’s the first thing I thought.
these. They did Ford has not taken advantage of the knowledge
As has been said ad infinitum: Three wheelers have most the disadvantages of both two and four wheeled vehicles, but none of the advantages. Since this thing has air, that may be overstating it a bit. The sentiment holds though. What this is, really, is a small convertible car. With bad cornering dynamics.
I also like how the roll bar is seemingly high enough to protect only the driver (rider?), not the passenger.
If you manage to tip that thing over far enough to roll it, she/he is not a passenger; she/he is a projectile.
Like you could get anyone to ride in the bitch seat of one of rhese.
I wonder how much the AC can do in an open area cockpit at 60mph? Pretty much nothing. The fact that few were sold and apparently those that weren’t wrecked are all for sale I’m guessing this thing sucks. But Don’t trust me Mercedes is bound to buy one and give us a good review.
The lightswitch, center console is pure Ford too.
I recognize the cupholders from my Mustang, and the subtly-peaking-out gas pedal appears to have the metal covers common on some Mustang trims at the time.
Nice placement of the AC vent. Gotta keep the driver’s bits comfy.
This thing hurts my brain looking at it. The proportions are off.
Great concept and I see where this lead to the Slingshot and Cam-Am Spyder.
I would drive it, but not want to own it.
If I was forced into this category of vehicle, I would definitely want the single wheel in the back. And like you, I would be happy to take one for a spin, but have no desire to own.