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You've Never Seen A Car Like The Davis Divan Three-Wheeler

After the war, carmakers in America couldn’t spool up production fast enough to meet demand, so entrepreneurs like Gary Davis did their own thing. He managed to build about 15 three-wheeler sedans in California before the feds took him down.


Okay, so he spent 24 months in a minimum security prison, but as Jay Leno’s Garage reveals, the car was solidly engineered and could seat four on the front bench. Seriously.

Davis made the frame and the aerodynamic all-aluminum body with its hidden headlamps, while the water-cooled flathead was an industrial engine produced by the Hercules Motor Car Company in Indiana. The three-speed gearbox came from Borg and Warner.


Gary Davis also designed the car to have a removable top, and since he took inspiration from an Indy prototype and the aviation industry, the whole thing was very light for its size at around 2,500 pounds.

Illustration for article titled Youve Never Seen A Car Like The Davis Divan Three-Wheeler

Despite seating four and featuring a full-sized trunk, the Davis Divan totally failed and production came to a halt after just 15-18 completed cars.

This particular example is chassis number four and the last car equipped with the Hercules engine, which for some time was stuck on top of a pole being used as an advertisement for a body shop.


Luckily, it belongs to the Petersen Museum’s collection today, and the folks their are currently crowdfunding the money needed for her complete restoration. Send them five bucks if you can, because this thing is hilarious:

Remember, when building a three-wheeler, always put the solo wheel to the back!

It’s easy to remember, really. Reliant Robin: No. Morgan Three-Wheeler: Yes.

Davis Divan: Yes, anyway.

Illustration for article titled Youve Never Seen A Car Like The Davis Divan Three-Wheeler

Photo credit: Alden Jewell

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Matt Novak

Here’s a short Popular Science film with the car from 1948.