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Who Invented the 3-Wheeled ATV?

Here’s a hint, it wasn’t Honda

May 30, 2009

By John Pellan


ImageAn interview with Tricart Inventor John Plessinger at Pine Lake in Ashtabula, Ohio, America's Oldest ATV Race

6x6 amphibious ATVs and 3-wheeled ATVs are the ancestors of the 4-wheeled and Side by Side ATVs that we enjoy today. While at the Pine Lake 6x6 40th Reunion in Ashtabula, Ohio I met many people that had a direct hand in the creation of our sport, one person in particular is John Plessinger who in fact invented the first three wheeled ATV called the Tricart.

The mission of John’s 1967 college project was to create a motorized tricycle capable of traversing all terrain. His “Project Tricart” was a success, not only did he get an A on his school project but his Tricart ended up being a big part of his life.

Okay John fill me in on the early years.
Well Tricart was a graduate project I did while going to school at Cranbrook Academy of Arts and Science in Bloomfield Hills, MI. It started as a one semester project but ended up being a two semester project. After I graduated we ended up selling the patents and design rights to a company called Sperry Rand, which is now known as Unisys, a division of New Holland.

They were more known for building farm equipment weren’t they John?
Yes they set up a Special Products Division of New Holland and opened up a plant near me in Lebanon, Ohio and that’s were we started making the Tricart in 1968. I was under contract with them for three years.

ImageJohn and his custom made Tricart Stretcher. John used to race this machine on drag strips and frozen lakes.




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Dan Ginney's picture

Re: Who Invented the 3-Wheeled ATV?

That's an awesome read! I have 2 TriCubs and reading this history is great!!
Thanks for taking the time.

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