If you follow my posts you know I’m a bike guy. Something about the exposure, the Spartan simplicity and the directness of input with a motorcycle, even a non-sporting bike like a Harley-Davidson, just strikes a chord with me-but I’m not married to the idea of two-wheeled vehicles.
Maybe because the first vehicle I ever owned was an ugly hand-me-down Road King with upmarket suspension components that I totally trashed doing dumb shit(how can you love a vehicle but never take a picture with it? I’m sorry King Bob, I thought I’d have you long enough to do something about your face but that’s no excuse!), but even on sportbikes I never really have fun at 10/10ths on a motorcycle like I do in a car. And conversely, I never feel the same abundance of control, of whatever the mechanical equivalents of trust and unity are, when I’m in a car that I do on a motorcycle. And it really bugs me! I feel like a broken hoon, unable to fully interface with the vehicles available to him.
But I’m not alone-a lot of people share this yearning for absolute vehicular purity, and there’s plenty of solutions.
For those who are fully committed to their four wheels but too hardcore for an S2000 or a GT-86/BRZ, there’s such vehicles as the Ariel Atom, Caterham Sevens and the other Lotus-inspired cars and kits(I’m very partial to the Brunton Stalker, which can handle both big tall Americans and small-block V8s), the BTM Cheetah you loved as a slot car, roughly seventeen billion Cobra replicas and anything from Flyin’ Miata(I prefer the Catfish, but I’d gladly thrash a V-8 Exocet if I had the scratch!) Still, there are those who feel that these are still too close to the basic experience of driving, however visceral, because the wheels are still in the standard box format.
On the other end of this spectrum there’s a mountain of tricycles, which snobs on both sides of the car/bike debate ignore for senseless reasons like ‘it doesn’t lean!’ or ‘there’s no roof!’, but which offer the most bang per buck of almost anything over a motorcycle! Once you get used to not being able to dart all over the lane or lean your vehicle(you still transfer your weight, but it’s all body lean-if you watched the Harley rider bombing the canyon, that’s body lean, versus how MotoGP riders stay mostly in the saddle but tilt the bike under themselves sometimes), you can have a damned good time on a Can-Am Spyder or even a Harley-Davidson Freerider(Rode it, liked it, almost tipped it over turning upright, learned to body lean!) If you don’t want to worry about the weight transfer there’s three-wheeled sitdown roadsters like the Polaris Slingshot, the Campagna T-Rex and V-13R(Jay Leno approves of this one) and the Scorpion P6. I think Morgan might also make something similar, I’ll have to look into it.
But there has to be an absolute middle line, right? A perfect compromise between riding and driving, which neither side could find a fault with. Is it the Slingshot? Maybe the Atom? If you ask me, it’s anything with the name Wazuma.
Ludovic Lazareth is a custom motorcycle builder based in Annecy, France, which is a really frustrating career choice if you know anything about France’s attitude towards combustion vehicles(basically, everything he’s ever built that you can find written about in English is illegal in his home country), but it doesn’t slow him down. In addition to high-value custom builds of everything from Gold Wings to Buell Lightnings and even a few cars(check out his Mini Cooper!!!), old Luddy Vick seems delightfully interested in muddying the water between motorcycles and cars, and offers many great(and expensive) solutions, from the street legal, turbocharged(for export only) Triazuma trike and Quadrazuma quad(you donate a Yamaha R1 for the powertrain, and register the resulting Lazareth as such) to the fantastic Maserati-powered, Dodge Tomahawk-inspired LM-847.
Still, my absolute favorite things he’s ever built are the Wazuma series. It’s a simple concept-four wheels for traction(and possibly legality), but with the rear wheels close enough together to behave as a single contact point, a reverse DeltaWing if you will. As a fan of reverse trikes, I strongly approve of this-a single rear wheel is a drifter’s paradise, it’s similar to a welded diff in a car but easier to break traction.
I think it might be his favorite of his designs, because he keeps coming back to it! He’s built one with a 3.0 liter Ferrari V8, one with a BMW V12, and now he’s made one with a very significant redesign.
The Lazareth Wazuma GT is Lazareth’s first enclosed vehicle, but he doesn’t consider it a car and neither do I. You can just tell there’s nothing there that he didn’t absolutely have to add to sell the thing legally.
The 4.0l Jaguar v8 spits out 375 horsepower and 387 pound-feet of torque to the extremely close-set pair of rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Not an outrageous amount of power these days, but when paired with the Wazuma GT’s 2,170 pound curb weight, you’re left with a power-to-weight ratio that rivals just about anything else on wheels. Add to that that it’s a Jaguar V8 and therefore has some sneaky performance potential and I think companies like Caterham and Ariel had better watch out-that is, if Lazareth can get this DOT approved here in the States. Probably won’t fly in Texas, but whatever! Also, I wouldn’t mind an overhead roll bar, and maybe a third pedal.
Still, if you were ever wondering what the exact middle line between motorcycles and cars is, it’s called a Wazuma. Which one? That’s entirely up to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Winchester has done two things with his life, read all the books and fall in love with machinery. He tries to channel his energy into either designing or writing about cool machines, but constantly gets distracted by pretty girls and terrible opinions. A former Road King owner, he currently drives his family nuts in between bus rides while saving for a high potential beater with a low-rust frame in Cleveland, Ohio. Go Browns, who cares if you win or not?