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Interpretation ID: nht73-4.21

DATE: 05/21/73


TO: Highway Aircraft Corporation


TEXT: This is in reply to your letter of April 24, 1973, to Mr. Schneider asking for an interpretation that the Fascination vehicle your company proposes to manufacture is "an automobile." You state that you "are currently testing both a single wheel and a dual wheel arrangement on the front, and it is not clear yet which one will prevail."

If the final configuration of the Fascination were that of a four-wheeled vehicle it would be categorized as a "passenger car" under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Currently all three-wheeled vehicles are classified under our regulations as "motorcycles." Under a recent rule making proposal, a copy of which I enclose, the definition of a motorcycle with three wheels would be restricted to those lacking a full or partial enclosure for the driver, clearly excluding the Fascination. If the proposal is adopted, and you choose the three-wheel configuration for the Fascination, then the vehicle would probably be classified as a passenger car. It is possible that some adjustments would be made in the standards applied to three-wheeled or other lightweight vehicles, on petitions received from those interested.


Highway Aircraft Corp.

April 24, 1973

Lawrence Schneider Office of Chief Counsel National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.

We are in final stages of development and testing on our new FASCINATION automobile. We have been in communication with Roger Compton and other members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration staff, and it has come to our attention that it is necessary for us to request a ruling as to the classification of our automobile. At least we feel it is an automobile; however, some of the regulations relating to three-wheel vehicles seem to confuse the issue.

We have no desire to side step any of the safety laws, which might be the case if our vehicle were called a motocycle. It has further come to our attention that several of the states have laws that classify a three-wheel vehicle as a motorcycle. It is therefore our desire to secure a ruling from your office that would clearly establish the FASCINATION as an automobile. This would make us subject to all the safety laws and would give us a sound basis upon which to approach the various states in which we will be licensing the car.

This is a four-passenger vehicle. The passenger compartment is 58" wide, the rear track width is 63", and the wheelbase is 130". The car will weigh something less than 2,000 pounds. We are currently testing both a single wheel and a dual wheel arrangement on the front, and it is not clear yet which one will prevail.

If any further details will be needed to clear up the situation, please contact us immediately. We will be waiting for your reply.

Doran Rhodes Assistant to the President