Cars and Coffee: Blackjack Zero

With the inevitable closing of Cars and Coffee Irvine other Southern California ungodly hour Saturday morning car shows which existed before are seeming to flourish. With other SoCal automotive events such as Supercar Sunday and Donuts and Derelicts, local weekend meetings have quickly become the norm for automotive enthusiasts. Here at Hooniverse we love the obscure and quirky offerings major but mostly small manufacturers have been offering recently. One of our favorites has been the Morgan 3 wheeler that Jeff had the opportunity to test last year. With kit car feel, overwhelming charm and questionable reliability the Morgan is the epitome of slow car fast. Others have woken up to the same format of three wheeled goodness as well. Enter the Blackjack Zero: another British three-wheeler that has some of the same “flavour” (see what I did there), but with a slightly different configuration.

While the Morgan uses a V-twin through a Miata gearbox, the base Blackjack engine is a 1,600cc flat-four from a Volkswagen Beetle. This Zero sports the upgrade to a the 1,100cc V-Twin Moto Guzzi. By utilizing a rear-engined Volkswagen transmission the Zero is, you guessed it, front wheel drive.

Some of the specifications of the Zero:

Engine: VW Type 1 air-cooled 4 cylinder boxer, 1300-1800cc (many internal options.)  Weber 40DCOE/ Dellorto 40 DHLA carburettor on unique Blackjack inlet manifold. 304 Stainless steel exhaust system and remote oil cooler and oil filter.
Transmission: VW Type 1 gearbox with four forward gears and reverse, standard final drive ratio approx. 3.8:1.  Double jointed drive shafts driving the front wheels through Golf GTI steering uprights.
Front Suspension: Unequal length double wishbones with AVO adjustable dampers and springs. Bulkhead mounted 22mm anti-roll bar operated by lower wishbones through long pull-rods.
Rear Suspension: Unique trailing swing-arm with AVO adjustable damper and spring
Steering: Rack and pinion, 2.5 turns lock to lock.
Front Brakes: VW 260mm cross drilled discs with four piston ‘Hi-Spec’ alloy calipers.
Rear Brakes: Golf GTI rear disc with Bendix alloy handbrake caliper.
Fuel Tank: Rear mounted welded aluminium fabrication with mounts, neck and large Aston filler cap. Approx. 25ltrs capacity.
Body Tub: Substantial high quality 360 degree fibreglass moulding with stressed bulkheads, bonded facia/front luggage compartment and rear diaphragm/ rear luggage compartment. Produced with grey gelcoat surface. Recommended finish-2 pack paint.
Chassis: Full length multi-tube subframe in round CDS steel tube which extends from engine and suspension mounts at front to swing arm mounts at rear. Laser-cut brackets and yokes- bolts to body tub in three planes.
Wheels and Tyres: Three  7”x 17” cast aluminium wheels with 215/40 ZR 17 tyres.
Dimensions: Wheelbase: 2500 mm. Overall length 3500mm. Width 1670mm.
Weight (dry): Approx. 450kg.

With this and others such as the Polaris Slingshot, are three-wheelers here to stay?
[Sources: Blackjack Cars]
[ Images Copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Jason Connor]

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  1. JayP2112 Avatar

    I'd love to drive this or the Elio at the track to check out the dynamics of having the front wheels do pretty much everything except keep the tail from dragging.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      Must be like autocrossing a Cessna.

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        Edit- reminds me of the time I had 2 R compound tires for the MG at the autox- put them on the front for better turn-in. Ended up doing uncontrollable 360s. Tried them on the back and plowed thru the course.
        Later a guy suggested putting them on the right side… but since the 'B had an open diff, I didn't think that was a good plan.

        1. Tiller188 Avatar

          You guys are being intelligent, discussing handling dynamics…and I'm still trying to figure out the antlers.

          1. Vairship Avatar

            Additional cooling surface for the air cooled engine of course!

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      As David Norton, builder of the Shrike reverse trike, once said, "Sanctioning bodies don't allow three-wheelers to race…with good reason." I am not sure that FWD is going to overcome the inherent handling defects of the three-wheeled configuration.

  2. stigshift Avatar

    Blackjack Zero,
    Morgan 100.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      [youtube lFg25Oit3AI youtube]

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I frankly love the concept of FWD for a reverse trike. It makes sense. Plus open cockpit, plus Guzzi engine should = awesome.
    And yet, the Blackjack has always left me cold. Something definitely got lost in the execution.
    As an aside, I think the VW transaxle would work best up front if it were in its original orientation, driven by an engine behind it. Not only could it maintain the stock rotation, but a front-mid-engine configuration would centralize mass and distribute weight much better. Of course, that arrangement would be begging a water-cooled engine and four wheels.

  4. mgear Avatar

    It looks like Nigel Thornberry.