We're So Down for the Cyberpunk Vibes of the Campagna T-Rex

Jane Lu
Dec 16, 2021 · 4 min read
Three-wheelers, a broad class of three-wheeled vehicles, have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. They’re essentially lightweight cars that first took their engines from motorcycles.
Some of these three-wheelers have dynamic and unique designs, especially the Campagna T-Rex. The vehicle looks like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie. HotCars gives us an overview of this sporty beast and what makes it instantly memorable.
Front view of blue Campagna T-Rex parked in a lot
The Campagna T-Rex has a futuristic and dynamic design.

The history of the Campagna T-Rex

The very first T-Rex was conceptualized in 1988 when Daniel Campagna founded the company in Canada. Originally a Formula 1 racer for Ford, he had experience with building vehicles, including the T-Rex's prototype. He formed a team to complete the first official T-Rex example, which was shown at the 1994 Montreal Auto Show.
For six years, you could only buy the T-Rex in Quebec. However, as orders began flooding in, the team relocated to more Canadian cities to appease buyers. This also gave the company more opportunities to network, shipping T-Rex orders to more countries.
In 2004, the company fell on hard times. Due to financial problems, Campagna Motors had to declare bankruptcy and give T-Rex Vehicles Inc. full rights to reproduce the T-Rex. In 2013, the company also formed a partnership with BMW, subsequently getting permission to use one of its patented six-cylinder engines.
Campagna Motors hit another rough spot in 2019, closing its doors and leaving many to believe it was gone for good. Fortunately, it returned with new investors a few months later to keep the T-Rex's legacy alive. In addition to the classic T-Rex, a fresh electric model is reportedly in the works.

Where does the Campagna T-Rex get its power?

The Campagna T-Rex has used four engines throughout its lifetime, the first being sourced from a Suzuki motorcycle. Getting these engines wasn't exactly a practical process: workers would buy the full bike just to remove the powertrain. Eventually, the company shifted to using Kawasaki engines, specifically the ones that had ram-air intake.
Since 2013, the company has been using a BMW-sourced engine for its T-Rex, currently in the 16SP phase. The engine is capable of 160 horsepower, able to zoom to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The six-speed transmission gives maximum power to the rear wheels and includes an electronic mechanical reverse gear.
The body is constructed from lightweight composite material, bringing its mass to a little over 1,150 pounds. This makes it both easy to maneuver and contributes to its impressive speed. It also features a compliant suspension and electronically controlled engine torque.
According to Campagna Motors, the T-Rex RR variant is even lighter and still uses a Kawasaki engine. It's a little more powerful with 200 horsepower, and it's paired with the same six-speed gearbox as the 16SP. This model also features traction control with three drive modes, including one for off-roading.
Some types of three-wheelers, like ATVs and golf carts, aren't permitted on public roadways. That's because these particular examples don't have built-in safety features. Some three-wheelers also aren't fast enough to be considered safe on highways.
Fortunately, both T-Rex models come with safety belts, headlights, and a crash-tested chassis complete with a roll cage. The T-Rex 16SP's brake rotors are also cross-drilled, which keeps them dry even in rain or snow. Both are somewhat pricey (between $60,000-$70,000 minimum), but they offer a unique driving experience that's hard to find elsewhere.

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