Blast from the Past: Sperry Rand TriCart

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As a society we’ve come to accept certain truths as stable, unfaltering institutions. The value of your house only goes down, gas prices only go up and there are eight major ATV manufacturers (Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Polaris, Can-Am, KTM and Arctic Cat). This wasn’t always the case however and there was an extensive period in the 1970s when countless ATV manufacturers were appearing (and disappearing) on a daily basis.

Specimens from this era are extremely rare and when we happen across one, it’s only right we share the goods. Take for example the 1970 Sperry Rand TriCart.. No really take it. We stumbled upon a classified ad for a “cherry” specimen and found ourselves awed, a little bit disturbed and certainly intrigued.

The company was hoping, as evidenced through its advertising campaign featuring the slogan, “Go Tricarting” that the name Tricart would be synonymous with ATVing sort of like how we call all tissues Kleenex or all photocopies Xeroxes. Since the term ATV had yet to be coined, it was a decent plan. Of course considering Sperry Rand was known more for its involvement in computer parts manufacturing at the time, it’s entirely possible your desktop owes more to the company’s vision than does your Yamaha Grizzly.

However in its life cycle an estimated 40,000 TriCarts were produced across multiple years and while they lacked suspension and were typically powered by a 5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton lawnmower engine, the configuration was quite a bit different from the more motorcycle-oriented 3-wheelers Japan would begin exporting shortly thereafter. Some years the TriCart boasted an automatic Rockwell JLO 230cc air-cooled mill mounted nearly directly between the rear wheels, below the seating cup. About the only idea to have endured even to this day was the implementation of wide, low-pressure tires.

Perhaps most mind-boggling is that most ads for the machine at the time depicted the riders helmetless in street clothes, often with a passenger seated directly atop the fiberglass seat shell (in a small divot located there). No suspension? Not even a seat cushion!? It’s probably for the best the thing wasn’t very fast!

Additional interesting features include fold down steering bars and footrests that attached directly to the front wheel assembly. This means that your legs turned with the front wheel, a style usually associated with your kid’s tricycle. Enjoy a few photos of the Sperry Rand TriCart; if for nothing else, to appreciate the machine you have parked in the garage that much more. Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” We’re pretty sure nobody wants to repeat this era of ATV history!

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