TG mag races a Piaggio Ape
We go endurance racing in a three-wheeled, rear-wheel drive, bright red Italian design icon
Posted: 28 Aug 2013
It's called an Ape, but it's actually a Bee. This is what happens when you translate the name of Piaggio's little tuk-tuk from its native Italian into hearty English. The Bee. For 65 years, these have bumbled around olive groves with ancient farmers up front, or through busy piazzas delivering bread and gelato and other delicious foodie goodness. It's the car of the people. A three-wheeled mule. And we're going to race it.
You might ask why. So did we. But it turns out you can now buy one in Britain, and to celebrate this, its makers have organised a six-race championship. And they asked if we'd like to have a crack at the first round at Rye House kart track in Hertfordshire. It's a fiddly little place, and top speed is low. Fine: the Ape has a single-cylinder petrol engine with just 20bhp. It has handlebars. And two little castor wheels to stop it tipping over. In short, it has the handling qualities of a roadside shack. In fact, it is a roadside shack, from which to sell your lovely plump olives.
Words: Team Top Gear
Photos: Dom Romney