In 1983 and earlier I think the Big Red's were just factory pimped ATC200's with racks. No suspension. No reverse.
1984 was the first year for reverse gear on the Big Red. 200cc. Activated by turning a knob/lever down by the left foot peg I believe. '84 gained front suspension. Shaft drive. No rear suspension.
1985 the Big Red got front and rear suspension. 250cc. Shaft drive. Reverse was activated by press down on a red button on the left hand grip, pulling the left brake lever, and then (I can't remember) either clicking up or down one on gear shifter lever.
The Big Red's stayed the same through '86 and '87 until the demise in 1988.
In 1985 Honda also came out with a sportier version of Big Red called the ATC250sx. Used the Red's drivetrain in a sportier chassis. This was the last 3-wheelio I owned.
In 1981 my mom and I went in 50/50 on an 1979 ATC90. Later that would get traded to a ATC185s and then the 250sx. Mom was dead set against motorcycles, but was fine with 3-wheelers. Go figure. Riding apparel for me back then consisted of t-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a smile.
In 1983 a high school friend of mine had a Suzuki LT185 Quad Runner. I can remember at the time thinking that the Quad handled "funny". After all 3-wheelers were all I knew. Once you got the hang of 3-wheelers you could powerslide them forever. Wheelie at will. Quads required more effort.
An interesting tidbit about the certain Honda auto-clutch ATC's was how you shifted them. We all know the motorcycle shift pattern: 1 Down, 2,3,4,etc Up. Manual shift Quads use the same pattern. Auto-clutch Quads, ie quads you shift with a foot shifter, but don't need to clutch, use an all Up pattern. Up to 1, up again to 2, up again to 3, down to go back down.
Many Honda auto-clutch 3-wheelers were the opposite though. Like my ATC90 and ATC185s. You clicked down to upshift. Down to 1st, down again to 2nd, so on. You click up to downshift. Honda was the only manufacturer to do this. I heard Suzuki had some bizarre patterns on some of the early Quads too.
Three-wheelers are what started it all for me. Driving the pickup out to the farm was just that, driving a pickup out to the farm. Ride a 3-wheeler out to the farm, and suddenly it was an expedition. I would explore the backroads and pastures endlessly.
Still exploring roads and trails today: just on my DL1K and KLR650.
Ahhhh, 3-wheelers, Atari's, Commodore 64's, to be young again.
Anyone remember the Honda Fat Cat or Yamaha BW's? Dirt bikes with fat ATV style tires. Short lived idea. I thought they were immense fun. Friend of mine from high school had one. Probably around 1985. Great to take down the river sand bars and run around on.