Free-Wheeling with Vanderhall Motor Works

Vanderhall’s Venice and Laguna auto-cycles are as unconventional as their Southern California namesakes

For its first production model auto-cycle, Vanderhall Motor Works wanted a name that connotes exoticism and exclusivity, something that would suit a three-wheeled machine with a hand-laid carbon fiber body, a 200 hp turbocharged engine, two heated quilted-leather seats, and a starting price of $50,000. It settled on the Laguna, as in Southern California’s Laguna Beach, the seaside resort city known for its scenic coves, artist colony, surfing culture, and beach volleyball tournaments.

Vanderhall, which is based in Provo, Utah, launched the Laguna in 2016. Earlier this year, it introduced the Venice, named for another SoCal beach community, one that’s less exclusive than Laguna but abounds in bohemian charm. Both cities boast the warm, sunny weather that’s ideal for any open-cockpit vehicle, and they provide proximity to roadways—the canyon routes winding through the Santa Monica Mountains—where you can fully experience the thrill of driving an auto-cycle.

The Venice shares many of the Laguna’s components, including most of the suspension system. But it’s cloaked in a more quickly assembled, more cost-effective composite body, so the starting price is about $20,000 less: just under $30,000. The Venice is powered by a General Motors–sourced 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine that produces 180 hp. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, also from GM, although manual transmission is an option. Because the Venice weighs less than 1,400 pounds, the engine is powerful enough to enable a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph.

The cockpit is equipped with a heating system, heated bucket seats with roll bars for safety, and a 1,000-watt audio system that connects to Bluetooth. The available exterior colors are metallic black, metallic gray, dark red, and pearl white. 

In most states, you can drive the Venice and Laguna without a motorcycle license and without a helmet. Vanderhall sells the vehicles through 17 dealerships across the country. It plans to add eight more dealerships to its network by the end of the year and have as many as 50 by the end of next year. 

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