There are all sorts of ways to modify a car, but it’s pretty unlikely you’ll have seen many looking like this. If you saw a Fiat 500 trike on the motorway you’d almost certainly double-take, before rushing to post it on Reddit’s r/Shitty_Car_Mods thread. So is it just someone’s wacky home project, or does it have a purpose?
In fact there’s a reason why this poor Fiat has its rear wheels mounted inboard, rather than in the filled-in wheel arches. It still has four wheels, but putting them so close together means this car is legally a three-wheeler in Germany.
That means that it can be driven by 16-year-olds on a provisional license, whereas German teenagers can’t drive proper cars until they’re 18 (they can be supervised from age 17). So it’s a good way to get some freedom before you’re let loose on the autobahn.
It’s not a home conversion, either. A company called Ellenator creates these crazy-looking cars, specifically to meet this loophole. A new rear axle is provided, and the boot is modified to accommodate new wheels. The existing wheel arches are filled with sheet metal, making them look like a naff homage to old American cars with wheel spats.
The ECU is also reflashed, limiting the already wheezy performance of the Fiat 500. Instead of the 68bhp standard output, the Ellenator models get just 20bhp. Your top speed is also limited to 56mph, but the kit does improve the 500’s fuel economy to 56.5mpg.
But those figures are better than most cars aimed at 16-year-olds, however. In the UK you’re limited to something like an Aixam or a Renault Twizy, although we’re still hoping that the funky Citroen Ami makes it slowly to our shores. These Fiat 500s also still benefit from proper car safety features, space for four people and the feeling that you’re not driving something with the crash protection of a matchbox. The conversion seems to be reversible, too, so you can drive a normal 500 once you’ve passed your test.
Thing is, this conversion isn’t exactly cheap. It costs €5680 (a little over £5000, or $7000 USD), and you have to buy a 500 from one specific German dealership for the conversion to be valid.
What do you think of this four-wheeled Fiat 500 three-wheeler? Let us know in the comments.