Growing up in Germany, there wasn’t always the need to “own a car” per se. Most cities were within reach, public transportation was top notch and plentiful to boast. Car ownership was a luxury and not a necessity. But I still wanted one – and oh so badly. Why? Because I love to drive. Love the pleasure of driving, utilizing all my senses. The feeling of connectivity. Taking control.
My first vehicle came to me at the rather tender age of 23. What was my weapon of choice? A VW Lupo. A tiny hatchback smaller than the Golf (heck, even smaller than the Polo). Only 50 ponies on tap, not-so-comfy seats and manual EVERYTHING. It was a go-kart that rattled when accelerating beyond 60 miles an hour. Screaming in 5th gear as though it was being pushed far beyond its own limits.
But I loved it. That sense of freedom had me enjoying every mechanical shift through that wiry gear-lever. I didn’t mind at all that the radio had two micro-speakers that were easily hushed by a normal level of speaking, that the A/C was virtually just a blow-dryer with 3 settings for “somewhat cooler”, “luke-warm” or “slightly heated” and having to roll down the non-electrical windows that required a firm tug to first loosen it up. It was simple, light and it had something that many cars lack nowadays - driver focus. I am not talking about speed, but rather the human involvement that was needed to make this thing move. I mean really move (at all), but when you finally understood how it worked, how it thought, it was rewarding. Such a small car, but so much fun.
Fast forward several years later and thanks to the unnatural evolution of technology, cars have become heavier, more intuitive, electronic marvels of technical wizardry and, well, just plain dull to drive. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the modern creature comforts we have and who doesn’t like having their movies on demand, or their food delivered with just a few swipes of a screen? Presto. Instant gratification. Little input. Greater output.
But don’t we all yearn to get back to the basics every now and then? To simplify our pleasures and take the bull by the horns? We are built to feel the elements, not mask them. Our hands are designed to use tools, grab steering wheels….take control.
Perhaps that is why I was excited to write about this up-and-coming company.
Enter: Vanderhall Motor Works. They have created something that combines the better of both the old and new worlds. The best part? You can get one of these babies WITHOUT having to sell off a kidney on the black market or trade your soul for a favor. And they have pulled it off quite beautifully.
Steve Hall, creator and founder of the company was certainly no stranger to innovation. His very own father has over 900 patents, so the drive (pun intended) came at an early age. He put himself through school by “wide-body[ing]” Porsches. The man is a self-taught engineer. That last sentence holds enough weight to want to know more about this man and his machine.
The single-seater variant: Vanderhall Speedster (the open road awaits)
And here I was flipping burgers and waiting tables (of which the latter I was horrible at) in college. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Hall.
But Success did not come overnight. Steve went through a few iterations of the vehicle before getting it right. His first 3-wheeler was designed in 2006, the first working prototype was rendered in 2009 and he almost came out with a fully-drivable vehicle in 2014, but re-discovered something that Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars always banked on through his famous quote: “Simplify, then add lightness”. This still holds true today as the best practice for creating a well-balanced and capable vehicle. Mr. Hall stripped the car down to its basics and realized that not only was the car lighter, but it also looked better.
In 2016, he released the first vehicle to the public and the growth rate of the company since then has been rather impressive, doubling yearly sales over the prior.
Three different models (not including variants) are currently being offered for 2019. The Venice (in my opinion, the sweet spot), the Carmel and the Edison. Another model, the Laguna, is for now, being retired.
The Venice, starts at $26,950.00 (in single-seater guise) and depending on options can go up from there and the Carmel, which is now being offered for the first time in 2019 will have a starting price of $39,950.00.
The Edison is a fully electric vehicle. Speaking to Daniel Boyer, the director of marketing, he made it very transparent how important electrification and diversity means to the company. Like any other automotive empire out there, range-anxiety and battery life are issues to be reckoned with. I am just happy that such a small company is taking electrification so seriously with not one, but two models. The Edison2 and the Edison4. The Edison starts at $34,950.00.
With more than 50 dealerships and partners on the map right now, Vanderhall is in good shape to hit its target sales yet again for 2019. If you would like more information on the current line-up or future models, please visit their website: https://vanderhallusa.com.
I cannot wait to drive one of these things myself. I am completely in love with them. And why wouldn’t I be? They bring you back to the reason we all love these things. A machine built for the senses. For driving pleasure. For taking control.
Long live the Vanderhall. Stay tuned for more to come.