In 1974 MASA (Multi-Advanced Sports Action) (of Japan) created a new class of closed-course track racing. They set up the rules so tight that only one trike would qualify,……their’s! Japanese companies could do that in those days.
MASA was a Japanese company, but targeted the US with this form of racing. In 1975 they finally brought a few of these over here and did some exhibition races between their own staff. It never really caught on, but they still imported about 1500 of these into the US over a three year period.
There were some very minor changes made to the trikes over the three years they were produced, like the rear dropouts, the chain tensioners, seat materials, colors, elimination of a lot of the original chrome parts, and the elimination of the use of a mid-drive that followed the rear der’s movements (called a reciprocal-gearing system).
Since these trikes were focused on track racing only against like trikes, the lack of braking and their size was not a problem. Their wide, long front end was thought to be better protection for the rider.
Two major problems that kept them from becoming popular was the single, minimally effective rear brake and their humongous size (56+lbs). The Slingshot really was intended solely for track racing where braking was only used to adjust speed entering the corners. Even the disc brake on the rear of earlier models was way less than effective for street use. Later models tried the Bendix drum brake on the rear wheel, but still fell short of being able to lock up the wheel. The trike’s 56-65lb weight didn’t help with it’s stopping problems either.
Earlier models came with an aluminum ‘wing” over the front axle, probably more for looks than anything, and a bullet-shaped, sports car-styled rear mirror on the left side. The chain and front sprocket was also completely enclosed in an aluminum guard. They were very high tech looking machines, but too heavy to compete with any other HPV around.
The first year only came in red or yellow, with lots of chrome on the front end. The second and third years offered the orange and black colors, with the loss of all chrome on them, except the rims. The one you have there now is a very late first year model, with a tan seat and simpler, single cog rear jack-shaft on the driveline. It still has some of the chrome on the steering components, but not all. It is a transition model. The seller claims it to be original paint, but that’s not true. Orange wasn’t introduced until all chrome was eliminated. Black also came out first, with all parts painted black, then the orange was added to the frame only.
One last feature that also killed it was it’s tendency to flip over in high speed corners! The rider’s center of mass was closer to the rear wheel than the fronts so it wanted to tip that rear wheel over, and the front wheels couldn’t stop it with so little weight on them. It as about a 30/70% weight distribution on them, front to back, whereas our current generation of tadpole trikes average about 60/40% front to back.