Carver One Review
Is it a car or a motorcycle? Whatever it is, this two-seater, three-wheeler is in a class of its own
And now for something completely different… The Carver One blends motorcycle-style cornering with the additional stability and creature comforts of an enclosed trike, and the end result is truly unique.
The brainchild of Dutchman Anton Van Den Brink, the first concept prototypes of the Carver One appeared in the mid ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2004 that refined production models first appeared.
Van Den Brink says it was while sitting in gridlocked Paris traffic that he began to wonder why it should take two-and-a-half tons of metal to transport, in many cases, just the one person. Back in the Netherlands he produced a two-wheeled concept vehicle, later adding a third wheel for extra stability. A breakthrough came in 1994, when Anton’s son, Chris, together with colleague Harry Kroonen – both aeronautical engineers – developed the Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) system, which allows car-style steering input to translate into motorcycle-style lean while cornering.
A decade on, and Carver Europe is based near Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, with production of around 500 units per year handled in conjunction with automotive specialist ACU, at Uberheim, Germany.
A Daihatsu 659cc four-cylinder engine is found at the rear of the vehicle, and along with the two rear wheels remains flat on the deck – unlike the Carver One’s body and front wheel, which bank through the corners at angles of up to 45 degrees. Inside the cockpit you’ll find a Momo steering wheel, a foot clutch, brake and accelerator, and a five-speed gearbox, with reverse, mounted high on the right hand side.
Unique Car’s test vehicle came with all the bells and whistles, including leather interior, rear spoiler, stereo and trim kit, in addition to standard Carver One offerings like the removable hard top, alloy wheels, sports steering wheel, alarm, electric windows, and – of course – drinks holder.
At a standstill the Carver One’s body locks in an upright position, allowing the driver and/or passenger to enter via the single left side door. It’s snug but not uncomfortable for the driver, but you wouldn’t want to be tackling any longer runs in the back seat – claustrophobics need not apply.
On the road the Carver One is guaranteed to get you grinning. A few laps of Melbourne’s West Gate go-cart track revealed it takes a little practice to acclimatise – at first I jerked my way around the course, taking a few bites at the one corner – but after a few laps I was getting into the swing of things (literally!).
Certainly the distributor for Australia and New Zealand, NZ-based British expat Peter James, had the Carver One hooting around the tight little track with ease – it’s capable of swinging from full left lean to full right lean in just one second. The engine delivers enough punch to keep the smiles coming, while the brakes pull the light craft up in no time.
The Carver One is already a road-registered concern across the Tasman, but James says he’s waiting until he’s locked away a few firm orders for the Aussie market, before he invests the $20,000 and six months required to push the Carver One through engineering and ADR certification here.
With an expected asking price of around $95,000, that may be easier said than done. Despite its diminutive size, the Carver One isn’t exactly practical – but is certainly enjoyable to drive, and owners are guaranteed to get noticed.
2009 Carver One
Body: single-door twin-seat tilting three-wheeler
Drivetrain: rear eng, RWD
Engine: 659cc four-cylinder
Transmission: five-speed manual
Power/Torque: 50kW @ 6000rpm/100Nm @ 3200rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h – 8.2sec
Price: $95,000 (approx)
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