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Thoughts on the Current Three Wheeler (ATC) Market

I want to start this blog saying that I can’t predict the future. I just want to share some thoughts I have about the market. I’m 46 years old so I have seen some markets rise and fall over my lifetime.

Let me start with a short story. When I was young my dad was always into Corvettes. He always wanted a “mid-year” corvette (1963-1967) and finally bought a 1966 corvette coupe in the mid 1980’s. He put in a lot of hard work to restore the car back to original. My dad and I would go to Corvettes of Carlisle in Pennsylvania every year starting in the early 2000’s. I would see the prices of the cars rise year after year all the way into the 2010’s. After 2010 some of the prices began to fall and I also started to notice another trend. I noticed that there was less and less older Corvettes showing up. The older guys were still there but they were driving newer more comfortable and reliable corvettes. This trend continues and this year was another year that there were way more newer corvettes (many current model year) as compared to older ones. What happened? Here’s my take:

Many of the classic Corvette owners wanted the car they couldn’t afford in high school. As they got older, they kept their eye on the market and their passion alive thinking someday I will get it. Life moves on and for many as they get older things change. Their kids move out, they pay off the mortgage, they approach retirement and they can finally afford the car that they always wanted.

When some got their classic vette it was a short-lived honeymoon. I say this because many people are used to driving quiet comfortable newer cars. The classic looks great but when they drive it smells like gas, is so loud that you can’t have a conversation, and the air conditioning doesn’t work so well if it has air conditioning at all. Once the honeymoon period ends many start looking at the new model vettes. Why? Comfort. They start to realize they don’t drive the classic as much as they thought they would.

Many kept the classic vettes for years even though they didn’t drive them much. As years go by the “sentimental window” starts to pass. What I mean by this is that the guys who wanted the mid-year corvettes and saw them when they were young are now older and really don’t want to drive them. The generation behind like the mid-year cars but they don’t have the sentimental attachment to them so they don’t value them as much. I think the value drops due to this timing shift in sentimental value. I see this in real life as I get older. I would pay a premium for items I grew up with where younger and older generations don’t care as much.

Ok let’s bring this to the three wheeler market. In my opinion 1986 was the pinnacle of the three wheeler. So, if you were 13 to 18 years old in 1986 you would be 50 to 55 in 2023. The people who grew up around the 3 wheelers during the pinnacle are at the age when they typically have more disposable income for a reliving childhood purchase. This may be driving the prices up for the 3 wheelers. Just like in the corvette story there’s a honeymoon phase. If the 50 to 55 year olds have been riding more modern vehicles then some of the three wheelers may not feel the same and they may sell if the three wheeler is just sitting around and not getting ridden.

The higher prices may really limit the market as younger buyers may not want to pay the current high prices. Yes, there’s still deals out there but it’s nothing like 10 years ago. Back then three wheelers especially the non-popular models were very affordable and many became father son projects. I don’t know if the younger people who are outside of the sentimental window will continue to pay market prices for these three wheelers. Typically, when prices get to a certain point people will look at a more affordable projects and that’s how new trends start.

Has the 3 wheeler market peaked? I don’t know as I don’t have a crystal ball. I still think there will always be a market for a clean OEM example or the racing models like 250R, Tecate, and Tri Z but I’m not sure about the used rider quality machines. As prices rise you have to think about what other vehicles could you buy for the same price. I remember when Yamaha introduced the first racing quad in a long time - the YFZ 450. This really affected the older 3 and 4 wheel sport and racing market but that's a story for another day.

In conclusion I haven’t purchased many three wheelers recently and I will probably wait things out for awhile to see what happens.

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2 komentarze

Craig Dick
Craig Dick
27 lis 2023

Good insight into market forces. For me 1984 was the year I discovered 3 wheelers while working on a farm at 16 years old. I coveted the big red the owner never let me ride. I bought a used 185 at the end of that summer, spending all of my $3/hr savimgs. Now I'm 55 and yesterday my 19 yo son brought home a well used 1982 big red! Definitely took me back. It runs great and was a blast to ride today on old logging roads that he knows very well through his quading. I have ridden his newer machines a bit, so ya, the hardtail beats you up a bit, but the my old skills came back and…

28 lis 2023
Odpowiada osobie:

Thanks for the comment. Glad to hear stories of father and son enjoying these machines and experiences.

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