Drive: Vanderhall Laguna10:44:00 AM
When Vanderhall offered to loan me one of their Vanderhall Lagunas for the day, I had to say yes. I first saw this car at SEMA (2015) and thought it was a interesting alternative to the Morgan three wheeler. Now a three wheel sports car, built out of carbon fiber and the GM parts bin sounds like something that would come from England, Vanderhall sounds like it could Dutch. But the Laguna is American, built in Provo, Utah just down the highway from Salt Lake City.
I picked the car (technically a motorcycle) in Dana Point and took it for a drive on Ortega Highway, a favorite mountain road for gear heads that connects the inland valley of Lake Elsinore to the coast. This was my first time piloting a three wheeler and I didn't know what to expect, Ben the Southern California representative for Vanderhall said that the car would have much more grip than I expected and would handle like a sports car.
He was right pushing the Laguna far exceeded my expectations, the car is seriously fun to drive in the mountains. It may not be the fastest off the line, but once it gets moving you can really feel how light and nimble the car is, the lightweight carbon fiber body over an aluminum frame means the Laguna comes in at just over 1,500lbs. With a 1.4 liter VVTi Turbo making 200hp and 200lbft of torque the car has no problem conquering canyons and generating childlike grins as you drive it hard.
Driving around town the Laguna attracts a lot of attention as you might imagine, kids stop to stare at it, teens quickly attempt to pull out their phones to take a picture, strangers give you thumbs up and ask questions. Undoubtedly the Laguna is a car you buy if you don't mind drawing a crowd. Every time I parked it I would return to find a small crowd gathered around it taking pictures and waiting to ask questions.
The fit and finish is impressive on the Vanderhall cars, I was able to see two of them on my trip and while the one I drove was an early model it had excellent fit and finish, nice seats, and a surprisingly good sound system (which runs off your phone via bluetooth). Overall it didn't feel like a kit car or a home built special, it really felt like a well made factory produced car. I think much of that is down to the company's clever use of GM parts for the important bits the the steering wheel, controls, instruments, which help give the Laguna a much more finished feel. This is impressive considering the overall bespoke feel of each car, nearly every Vanderhall I have seen in person (five so far) each have unique details that makes each one special.
|The 1.4 liter Turbo feels so much sportier in the Vanderhall than the Chevy Sonic it was sourced from.|
The second issue I see is the price. With a range between $49,950 and $77,000, the Vanderhall quickly finds itself in some rarefied territory in the car world. For that kind of money you can buy a certified pre-owned Aston Martin, a Jaguar F-Type, a Porsche Cayman and a host of other cars.
But the Vanderhall only real competition is Morgan Three Wheeler which fall into the same price range. I suppose the Laguna is for the person who really wants something that is different, fun, and bespoke. I expect it would also be popular as a car to keep at vacation homes or even in those little garages some large motorcoaches have.
While the Laguna is still pending CARB certification for sales in California, once it does I expect to see many on freeways of Los Angeles, after all it is a motorcycle and you can drive by yourself in the carpool lane, that might make it worth the price of admission alone.
Also Vanderhall has just announced a new lower priced model called the Vince which will be avaliable shortly (more details and images are on their website). This sparse barebones model is projected to start at just under $30,000 and it has an awesome retro look that I can't wait to see in person.
For more on the new Vince and all Vanderhall vehicles visit the official Vanderhall website HERE.
Check out the video below of me driving the Laguna.
Check out my vLog from that day on my personal YouTube Channel Below: