Today’s Rare Ride is technically our very first bike, even though it has four wheels. Called the Pulse, it looks like someone cut the wings of a small plane.
Designed in Michigan and with a fiberglass body built in Iowa, the Litestar (later Pulse) was the sole product of the Owosso Motor Car Company. Owosso was founded by David Vaughn at the end of 1984 and was named after the city in which it was headquartered.
The full name of Owosso’s car was Litestar GCRV, or Ground Cruising Recreational Vehicle. Technically a two-wheeled motorcycle, the Litestar featured two additional stabilizer wheels, one on each side, which acted to provide balance when stopped or in a turn. The total length of Litestar was 192 inches, with a width of 76 inches and an overall height of 54 inches. Two passengers sat in tandem inside the Litestar’s plastic sliding canopy, sheltered from the elements but probably quite warm on summer days. Considering its lightweight fiberglass construction, the entire vehicle weighed just 1,000 pounds.
Although it complies with US federal regulations as a motorcycle, various states have challenged the Litestar. It was a motorcycle with a covered headlight and (initially) no reverse, two big problems in New Jersey. There were also apparent quality issues. A total of 27 states have been willing to license a Litestar or Pulse.
Two different motorcycle engines were used in the Litestar, with 1,100 or 1,200 cc of displacement and approximately 85 horsepower. All transmissions were five-speed and manual. The motorcycle mill meant a top speed of 130 miles per hour and a 0-60 time of about 6.7 seconds.
Shortly after the Litestar went into production in 1985, Owosso founder David Vaughn found himself at odds with its body supplier, Tomorrow Corp. BD 200 which never took off. The two companies severed their ties and Vaughn renamed the Litestar to Pulse in July 1985 – only 21 completed vehicles ever carried the Litestar brand. Despite the almost immediate name change, the autocycle became popularly known as the Pulse Litestar. The Pulse continued in production throughout 1990, with a total run of around 347 units.
Today’s tidy red Rare Ride was sold to Mecum in 2018 and featured a 1,100cc BMW engine with four-speed manual exchange and disc brakes. It has been estimated between $ 25,000 and $ 35,000.
[Images: Owosso Motors, YouTube]
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC plugs and everything that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our bulletin.