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1959 Taylor-Dunn Trident Convertible Is a Funky Piece of EV History, Could Be Yours

If you ever thought that maybe electric vehicles have no personality, this Trident would like a word. Meet the cutest three-wheel electric vehicle that packs one heck of a vintage punch.
Fully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV lovers 9 photos
Fully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV loversFully-restored 1959 Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident delivers vintage style to EV lovers
This is a first-gen 1959 Model R Trident by the Taylor-Dunn corporation and, as it so happens, it’s fully electric and about to cross the auction block at Mecum’s East Moline 2022 event, which takes place between 24 and 26 March. No estimate is offered, but Mecum notes that it’s fully restored and a highly desirable collectible, since it’s one of the 51 surviving examples in the world.

So what exactly is a Trident? A Trident (Model R Trident, by its full name) is an electric three-wheeler from the category known today as NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles). The one offered for sale with Mecum is a first-gen model, so it’s a convertible and comes with tiller steering. Second-gen models had a roof and replaced the tiller with a proper steering wheel, for improved handling.

The small NEMA Electric DC motor delivers just 1 hp and is good enough for a top speed of 19 to 26 mph (30.5 to 41.8 kph), while the seven new heavy-duty batteries offer a 50-mile (80.5-km) range on a charge. The fiberglass-bodied Trident has two-speed transmission, turn signals, lights, horn and flashers, so it’s road legal.

This item, previously offered for sale in 2021 with Barrett-Jackson, where it fetched $18,900, was fully restored in 2020 but retains its original Black California plate. The exterior is in mint green with contrasting silver trim, while the interior, which seats two people in relative comfort, is in contrasting blue green. The upholstery is new.

The Trident came to be by a fortunate turn of events in the late ‘40s, when Californian chicken farmer R.D. Taylor Sr. started looking into ways he could transport his chicken feed. As he launched into building hand carts for other farmers, he was asked if he could come up with a motorized version. That would turn out to be he prototype for the Trident, also known as the PG.

In 1951, Taylor Sr. partnered with Fred Dunn, and they launched the Taylor-Dunn Manufacturing Company in 1955. The first-gen Taylor-Dunn Model R Trident was introduced in 1959 and would remain in production until 1963. To this day, Taylor-Dunn continues to make carts, from burden carriers, commercial and industrial vehicles, EVs, golf carts and stockchasers. The company has since been acquired by Polaris Inc.

The Trident might not be the fastest, most reliable, or stable EV out there (*it is not, far from it), but it’s a piece of EV history. Considering it previously sold for under $20K, it’s an affordable piece of EV history, too.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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