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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Dale Clifft's Original Three-Wheeler Prototype Emerges from Hiding After Decades

Posted May 24, 2021 7:23 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: CB77 honda motorcycles

While the saga of Dale and Liz Carmichael has received renewed attention in recent months thanks to the HBO documentary miniseries The Lady and The Dale, until recently nobody knew where Dale Clifft's original three-wheeler that started the whole episode had resided, or even if it still existed. Nobody, that is, other than Marie and Ronny Coleman and their friend and restorer Bruce Cunha. Also Marie Cole's mother, who threatened to send the vehicle to the dump at one point.

Now, more than 40 years later, the hand-built, Honda-based, Naugahyde-covered reverse trike that Clifft called the Commutercycle will emerge from hiding for its first public display ever.

Clifft never intended his Commutercycle as anything more than a tinkerer's project and certainly didn't intend for it to get wrapped up in the headline-making fraud trial of a woman who once claimed she'd "knock the hell out of Detroit" and "rule the auto industry like a queen." The avid motorcyclist and inventor merely wanted to build an inexpensive motorcycle-based all-weather vehicle for cruising around the Los Angeles area.

Starting with a 1963 Honda CB77 Super Hawk, Clifft removed the front fork, seat, and rear fender and then welded to its frame a birdcage structure made partially out of 1/2-inch electrical conduit. Cunha noted that the windshield came from some German vehicle, perhaps a Volkswagen, and that Clifft built the cabin structure around the shape of the windshield. Clifft even fabricated a reverse mechanism that used a small electric motor that engaged the rear wheel.

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