A Slingshot Around Uncle

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There is a way out.Polaris 1

Of half a dozen (or more) air bags and seat belt buzzers and back-up cameras and narc-you-out black boxes and automatic braking (soon to be a mandatory “feature” in all new cars).

Just don’t buy a car.   

Buy a “motorcycle” that just happens to be a car… or close enough to be serviceable as one.

Like the Polaris Slingshot, for instance.

Technically – legally – it is a motorcycle. But it seats two, side-by-side. You do not ride it, as you would a bike.

You drive it.

Just like a car.Polaris interior

But without all the “safety” folderol – and weight and cost – that every new car comes with, like it or not. Which means the Polaris Slingshot is extremely quick (zero to 60 in under 5 seconds) and extremely fuel efficient (nearly 40 MPG) which is a function of the fact that it weighs just over 1,600 pounds… which is a function of that fact that motorcycles do not have to meet Uncle’s many mandates that apply to cars.

The Slingshot does not have to pass the ridiculous crash tests that have resulted in subcompact cars that weigh 1,000 pounds more than the subcompacts of the past – and for this reason don’t match the gas mileage delivered by the subcompacts of the past, despite the new stuff having all the advantages of modern technology.    

Now, the Slingshot is technically a motorcycle. To maintain that pose, it’s got three wheels rather than four – and it hasn’t got a roof (or doors) though a windshield is available as an option.

This is how it slips through the cracks, Uncle-wise.Polaris frame

It is sold as a motorcycle – and registered as one. But you could absolutely use it as a car.

Especially if you were to add a targa top and/or similar doors to the thing, for rainy days and such.  Think of the Jeep Wrangler. You can remove the doors in minutes and convertible models have just a fabric top that can be peeled off at will when the weather’s nice and snapped back on when it’s not.

But you can’t remove the Wrangler’s multiple air bags, or the back-up camera or the rest of the Uncle-mandated gear.

With the Slingshot, you don’t have to worry about all that – because it’s not there in the first place.

What is there is a 173 hp 2.4 liter engine (sourced from GM) connected to a five-speed manual transmission (no automatic; move on if you’re that type of person), staggered size lightweight alloy wheels shod with specially made Kenda “Slingshot” high-performance tires (205/50R17s up front, a single 265/35/R18 out back) all snugged into a lightweight steel space frame covered up with removable polymer plastic body panels.Polaris engine

Ho ho!

173 hp in a 1,600 pound chassis…

That’s a helluva power-to-weight ratio.

Want to smoke the tires (whoops, the tire) in third gear? No problem.

And modifying the 2.4 liter four for an even better power-to-weight ratio is easy – GM sells a supercharger kit over the counter – and you’ll have the money for that, because the Slingshot only costs about what you’d pay to get into something like a new Civic or Corolla… which would come with the air bags, the back-up camera, the buzzers and all the bullshit. And it’d be slow. Because heavy. And not get particularly good gas mileage, either.

Because Uncle.

The Slingshot does comes standard with a decent stereo rig (upgradeable to a better one) with Bluetooth and cruise control.

What else do you need?

This is how cars used to be made. Simple. Fun. Accessible. There were Volvos for the dry twats and safety geeks. Now all cars are like that. They look the same, they feel the same (numb, boring).

This thing will not bore you.

It is an antidote to everything that’s gone wrong with the car business. A way to end-run all of that.

Possibly, a way to save the car business. The Slingshot gives us just a peek at the kinds of cars we might have, were it not for Uncle. Elio Motors gives us another glimpse – with the emphasis on virtually free operation (80-plus MPG) rather than warp-speed performance.

Clovers would have their “safety” cars, too. They just wouldn’t be able to force them down our throats.

At just under $20k to start, the Slingshot costs more than most motorcycles – but it’s still cheap relative to most cars. Especially given what it can do – and not just performance-wise.

I mean for your soul.Polaris final

How good would it feel to be free of Uncle and his endless for-your-own-good (but always at your expense) micro-management of the type of car you’re allowed to buy?

Feed him fish heads!

Now, you may have to get a motorcycle endorsement to legally drive the Slingshot. But you won’t have to wear a helmet, another bit of  Uncle end-running wonderfulness.

Get one before Uncle notices…

…and before it’s too late.

EPautos.com depends on you to keep the wheels turning! The control freaks (Clovers) hate us. Goo-guhl blackballed us.

Will you help us? 

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    • Hi Anon,

      The neat thing about the Slingshot is it end-runs most of the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety regs that have made cars largely un-fun and all of them grotesquely overweight and hard to see out of. But it can be used like a car – especially if you were to cover it with a hard-top of some kind and add a heater/defroster for winter. Of course it would be a no-go in the snow. So is a Mustang GT. But this thing costs less than half what a Mustang GT does and probably half or less what costs to insure one, too.

      • I assume you did not look too deeply into the 818 or you would see,

        This end runs most regulations too.

        It weighs almost exactly the same as the Slingshot.

        It IS a CAR, instead of something that can be used like one. It has a hardtop (convertible available) and windows and a heater and defroster.

        It does not look like a rider-mower that crashed into a scrap metal and plastic scrap bin.

        You can build one for about the same price or less than a Slingshot. ~20k Canadian for a well optioned kit + a Subaru + assembly. Just checked the slingshot price, around $34k to $42k Canadian. Insane price for a not particularly practical toy.

        I just looked at a used 818 convertible. Used but mint with a rebuilt WRX motor and upgrades. Asking $20k Canadian money. Trying to find a hardtop as that is what I want, but this may do.

        Not sure what you pay, but here, a 1100cc or over bike costs near DOUBLE the price to insure as any car. Slingshot would be in the maximum rate class.

        I just don’t see the Slingshot as making any sense from a practical or financial point of view.

        Funny, I would have guessed that this was exactly the type of car you want, based on your anti-nannism preference about cars. Eh, different strokes I guess.

  1. Ok my review. It is pretty fun. Alll this pertains to this car I rented only. The brakes arent good. The GM mill powering this thing is jpedestrian and blah as you would expect from GM although fairly quick due to the light weight. Shifts ok. I wonder if they could have sourced two kawasaki motorcycle engines instead. It gets TOO much attention. Driving on the highway with mobile skyscrapers all around isnt a ball of fun. It doesnt have the build quality of a modern car. Squeaks and rattles everywhere and the suspension feels like a go kart. It sure does like to do slide drift action around a corner though. Very niche car (obv) and I would recommend a test drive first. Still love that video.

    • Hi Mark,

      I agree the Slingshot would have been much more fun with a modern superbike four that can spin to 11,000-plus RPM and which makes 180 hp or so. In a package this light, that’d be very fun!

      The squeaks and rattle don’t faze me; I have never understood the general worry over them – so long as the car doesn’t leak! I kind of like a little noise action as it makes me feel I’m not in a pod!

    • Hi Carl,

      Absolutely! In fact, you could buy a classic car and make a few key updates for every day drivability – and have a great car as well as an Uncle-free car!

  2. I’ve mentioned it before, you haven’t answered me. There is another solution. It is to make your own car, which is why I’ve tried over and over and over again to discuss “Car in a Box”.

    Make a car that is unassembled. The buyer assembles it. Therefore it is home built. It only has the parts the buyer specifies. It includes instructions for assembly. It is a car as if it was built by Ikea.

    It is a business opportunity.

    • Ayn, most states demand a car that is homemade be made from parts of a certain age of production. If you desire something such as a ’68 Camaro, you can buy a brand new body and even get a turn-key car but we’re speaking of big bucks.

      It would be plenty expensive to produce more than one model if a car in a box is what you imagine. But pickup in a box is exactly what I intend to be driving ASAP.

      There are all sort of kit cars for sale

      • all sorts of kits in varying stages of completion. some are even reasonably priced if you dont mind doing the assembly work and/or happen to have an engine/trans laying around.

    • Hi Ayn,

      One can already buy kits cars.

      A good example of this being the AC Cobra and Lotus 7 kit cars.

      And one can make a car from various parts available either new or used, etc.

      In either case, though, it takes a lot of mechanical skill (and money).

      Just not realistic for most people.

      I really like the Eloi – if it ever sees the light of day.

  3. While we are on the 3 wheeler subject, what are the down sides to 3 wheeled vehicles.

    Ever since cars when to front wheel drive the rear wheels do not do very much, so why have 2 of them?

    If one of the wheels goes flat what happens in comparison to 4 wheelers. I don’t think they carry a spare.

    Are 3 wheelers less stable? Do they skid or fishtail more?

    3 wheelers probably weigh less so an accident will transfer more momentum to the 3 wheelers but less to the other person or vehicle. But the more compact frames probably resist bending better.

    • Less room for a spare would be a legitimate concern for this or any other small car.

      Driving on the interstate the other day, I witnessed someone driving on a doughnut spare in excess of 70mph. Fortunately for me he kept going ahead of me into the distance and I got off at the next exit.

      • Oh hell, Mith, back when I lived in Odessa I used to see young male Mexicans in their Honda’s with 4 spares on the ground. It was evidently ‘cool’…….if you couldn’t afford aftermarket “rims”.

  4. I know I have said it here before but I still do not see any logical reason why ATVs and side by sides should not be allowed on most roads.

    Of course the answer is that logical and the government are mutually exclusive to each other.

    • There is no moral reason, Skunk. Just “the law”… that is, the enforced, arbitrary edicts issued by the Clovers who control the power of the legalized mafia called the government.

  5. I could always get a three-wheeled scooter, like the Piaggio MP3 http://www.piaggio.com/mp3/en_EN/ – but I’d rather not. Living in the four season Northeast, they would be not nearly as year-round useful to me as my potential ELIO will be. So I am still hoping that they make me my ELIO, and in the meantime I’ll keep driving my 2007 Yaris.

  6. I don’t want their air bags or ABS or back-up cameras, etc., ad-infinitum -but I don’t want something that only weighs 1600 lbs either in a world full of heavy bloated vehicles with poor visibility and drivers who are texting, fooling with a screen, watching DVDs or are otherwise distracted. One little hit, and that Slingshot’s gonna go flying apart. I’ll just keep buying old vehicles, while we still can.

    C’mon, Eric. The Slingshot might be fun to play around with, but it ain’t no car. And with Polaris’s dubious reputation, not to mention GM’s, I wouldn’t expect those things to last very long….nor be too reliable.

    • People’s driving habits and skills suck. I nearly had a head-on and a rear-ender in a 15 minute period(or less) coming in one day this week. Another red light runner nearly collected me in a Chrysler 200 the next day. That 200 started out poorly with me turning into an access road in front of a group of cars I’d normally had plenty of time to beat but being a Chrysler, I rolled out and stepped into it at the same time…..only nothing happened throttle-wise for way too long. When it finally found itself, it was a tire squealing affair. At least it had good acceleration….when it finally went.

  7. Being 64, retired, and now driving only about 5,000 miles per year, I was planning on buying one more vehicle, an ELIO, to last me the rest of my life. But as year after year after year passes, and ELIO perpetually delays their production one more year, as they just postponed their 2016 production in to 2017; I’m beginning to believe that it will never be made, and it’s just vaporware. And that is disappointing and sad for me, as I really looked forward to owning and driving one, as it would have been perfect for me for many reasons. Oh well. But now I see that Mitsubishi is offering a $3500 rebate on their new leftover Mirages, and I suppose I could live with one of those with a stick shift if I have to, because if I have to buy a vehicle with 4 wheels, I’d enjoy a Mirage, as I’ve already test driven one, and found it totally acceptable for all of my vehicle needs.

  8. I’ve seen some examples of three wheelers on Youtube that were made in China, Had a roof, doors…fully enclosed, with not too large engines about 850CC or so. They looked pretty good for urban gad-about.

  9. The paradigm should change ,if the hypocrites will put their money where their mouth is (Al Gores private jet should be banned,it emits many times the CO2 of a private car )

  10. Polaris has almost 5 billion in annual sales. Lots of these sales are MRZRs and Dagos for our glorious heroes. They ain’t going nowhere, in TX or elsewhere,

    Fulfilling civilian admin and military needs and wants is the purpose of America, whether they want TellyTubbyVisions, WreckCreational Vehicles, or electronic Nanny Cams disguised as computers, tablets, smart phones, or smart teevees.

    Polaris Govt & Military

    Rider X – use the web to ride plan and manage your vehicles. Personalize your online profile and showcase to others where you’ve been ( it’s like Facebook for your vehicles and rides)

    KBB review of 2016 Polaris Slingshot

    • TOR, thanks for the Polaris military link.

      Those honeycomb TerrainArmor tires look very interesting.

      ERIC or anyone else, any info or ideas on those?

      • Those tires “look good”. They may have a bit of an edge on tires with no tread on the sidewall but since the sidewall is the weakest part of a tire, they leave a lot to be desired when you encounter sharp rocks, sticks, roots, various puncturing type debris of any sort since they tend to pull a point into them at which point they ruin a sidewall. They’ve been all the rage for the last dozen years. Hell, we even have some, though not as aggressive(highway vehicles from 1/2 T to 5500 series trucks. It’s hard to find the slick sidewall tires evidently or this is just the ones they push. I used to do a lot of 4 WD, serious stuff for work. I liked wide tread with big alternating sipes for shedding mud, etc. but that sidewall had better be slick for longevity and road use. I couldn’t count the number of pickups and the like sitting with a flat on those type of tires. Even though you can buy them in any size, running them on the highway is an expensive proposition since their tread life is minimal in those conditions. It may be the ticket on those light, off-road things if you have deep pockets but ruining two of them always sucks, no matter where you are or what you’re in.
        I view them as the 4WD equivalent of 24’s on your Monte Carlo. They’re bad to the bone……till you have one with a cut that follows that tread along the sidewall, then hang onto your wallet.

  11. You need a motorcycle endorsement to drive (ride?) one in Texas, which means you have to pass the motorcycle driving test. Not sure if they’ll let you take it in your Slingshot, or if they want you to do it on a two-wheeler.

  12. I would be pleased if the Elio was available to the public and a success. Even if the final price tag out the door was $10 000 FRN, I think it would be worth the price.

    Elio needs to tread a fine line. While delays do not help its image, I think it would be worse if they rushed an unpolished product to market that flopped.

    The slingshot is good for what it is. I am glad it is on the market for those that want it. I think a car similar to the Elio is good for the market place as well–especially those that need a second car for commuting purposes.

    • Hi Mith,

      Both the Slingshot and the Elio are,in their way, a kind of revolt against Uncle. Here’s to hoping it catches on!

      • eric, the Elio is crash-tested to meet car standards as I interpret it. I’ve been taking their newsletter for years…..and years. It has airbags and computerized everything. They call it a car too. They’re about to be at the NYC car show…..wowzer! Now that $6800 purchase price is the base but no word yet of what the ever-growing options list is going to add.

    • I rather think that (a) distracted drivers and more importantly (b) pedestrians who believe that they have the “right of way” in the face of the laws of physics — F=MA, as you say — are killing more pedestrians.

      • You forgot the distracted pedestrians running in front of the distracted drivers. I had a kid walk right into the front grill/hood of my legally parked Chevy Tahoe while I was sitting in it engine off/radio on waiting on someone. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not been there, makes me wonder how many times people have walked into it while it just sits parked in front of the house. Then just today, I scared the shit out of a woman walking in the middle of the street by starting my Expedition, factory exhaust, nothing loud/crazy. She looked at me like “how dare you start a vehicle with a pedestrian walking in the middle of the street”. Sidewalks were available in both instances, but for reasons I can’t fathom, pedestrians don’t use sidewalks where I live.

  13. It’s been commented before that the only reason why we even have motorcycles on today’s roads is due to them being invented the same time cars were in the less regulated 19th century. That’s why motorcycles are legal on roads and golf carts aren’t. Its not just because golf carts are low speed (because they could be souped up to go faster), they unfortunately came around after regulations began. That’s the reason why you don’t ever see a new form of transportation on the roads.

    Golf carts cause few problems on the private roads (shared with cars) of gated golf communities (at least at the ones around me) so there would really be no problem with them on other roads. Frankly if the elites were interested in less pollution, low speed motor vehicles would be part of a “solution”. I mean most golf carts are even ELECTRIC, the gold standard of green for these people.

    Actually, I am of the opinion that low speed motor vehicles should be allowed to use the bike lanes and paths that have been built all over the last couple of decades. Most are so underused it wouldn’t be a problem. Most motorized vehicles would still be slower then the bikes already on them. So they are no more threats to people on foot then the bikes are. But you never ever hear about things like that, most of us didn’t even think of that idea. But I know if it was proposed, it wouldn’t have a chance in h***.

    There is a good example of low speed vehicles on American roads. Amish buggies (I live on the very edge of Amish country). In spite of what you read, Amish vehicles have very low accident rates, and the accidents are rarely the fault of the Amish.

    The Amish are one of the few groups still willing to fight government regulation and intrusion, as they are often singled out due to their very different and non conforming “lifestyle”. They battled those orange triangles (and some states, license plates) for many years before losing that. But they have had some successes at keeping the government at arms length (managing to stay out of social security, and now Obamacare).

    I think as a society there are things we all could learn from them, in many ways they are very libertarian. They mind their own business, don’t want to interfere in your life, take care of their own, don’t expect (or even want help) from outside their community. They are very polite, do all their work to an excellent level, and generally are very honest when you do business with them. Yeah, their far from perfect, but who is?

    And they do what every person driving slowly on a road should be doing. They will always pull to the side to allow others to pass! Maybe that is something state road builders outside Amish areas should take note of too. They have built more areas for the Amish to pull to the side. Why only Amish areas? Car drivers could be using them as well.

  14. $20k (or thereabouts) may be ‘cheap’ compared to a car, but seems a bit steep for something like this. Come on Elio.

    • Maybe.

      But my sense of things is that enough people are fed up to be a critical mass. If a bunch of these get bought and are in circulation it will be hard for Uncle to stop it. Like motorcycles. You know they would love to outlaw them.

      But they can’t.

      Not without inciting 1789 Paris-style mobs.

    • Agreed, Robbie!

      However, this thing has the advantage of long-haul comfort for two, as well as the possibility of all-weather use. (Yes, I know.. you can ride a bike in the rain… but even geared up, it sucks.)

      • (Yes, I know.. you can ride a bike in the rain… but even geared up, it sucks.)

        Yep, that’s a fact. Even with the best everything, it’s a drag getting spray off everything else as if rain weren’t enough. I found one place where a full-face helmet and rain gear are pretty good, although you’re not going to travel 100 miles in it, is fishing. I love fishing in the rain.

        Back to this vehicle though. There’s nothing to rub your collarbone and that’s nearly reason enough in itself.


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