|Manufacturer||Peel Engineering Company|
2010 – present (EV)
2011 – present (Petrol)
|Assembly||Isle of Man|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||One-door coupe|
|Layout||side engine, rear wheel drive |
|Engine||Brushless DC Electric Motor|
3-speed manual, no reverse (63-64)
Single Fixed Gear (2010 EV)Continuously variable transmission (2011 Petrol & Electric)
|Wheelbase||1,270 mm (50.0 in)|
|Length||137 cm (53.9 in)|
|Width||99 cm (39.0 in)|
|Height||100 cm (39.4 in)|
|Curb weight||59 kg (130 lb)|
The Peel P50 is a three-wheeled microcar originally manufactured from 1962 to 1965 by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. Until 2009 it held the record for the smallest automobile to go into production. It has no reverse gear, but a handle at the rear allows the very lightweight car to be physically maneuvered when required.
Designed as a city car, it was advertised as capable of seating "one adult and a shopping bag." The vehicle's only door was on its left side, and equipment included a single windscreen wiper and only one headlight. Standard colours were Daytona White, Dragon Red and Dark Blue. The 1963 model retailed for £199 when new (about £1,400 in 2010, or $2,200 USD). 50 of them were produced, and only 27 of them are known to be still in existence.
In 2010, production of a replica version was started by a newly formed company, called Peel Engineering Ltd based in England (not to be confused with the original Peel Engineering Company from the Isle of Man). Externally this car was very similar to the original but with many major mechanical differences in the suspension, steering and drivetrain. Driven by an electric motor and with a top speed of 16 km/h (10 mph), this version was produced as a display vehicle and was not road legal. In 2011 production commenced on new road legal petrol & electric versions. Most colours from the original are used in the 2010 models with only Dark Blue being replaced by Capri Blue.
Production is located in Sutton-in-Ashfield,England.
The P50 used a 49 cc (3.0 cu in) DKW engine which gave it a top speed of approximately 60 km/h (37 mph), and was equipped with a three-speed manual transmission that had no reverse gear. Consequently, turning in a confined area could be achieved only by pushing, or lifting the car using the handle on the rear and physically pulling it round. The makers and users claim fuel consumption of 100 mpg-imp (2.8 L/100 km; 83 mpg-US).
At least one prototype, the Peel P55 Saloon Scooter, has also survived. Unlike the production Peel P50 (along with all developments and replicas thereof), this prototype used the less stable layout of a single wheel at the front and two at the back. Approximately 47 Peel P50s were sold at £199 each.
On the 15th February 2013 at the Bruce Weiner RM Auction a genuine 1964 Peel P50 (Registration number ARX 37B) achieved in excess of $120,000 which is £80,000 at the current exchange rate of 1.51 dollars/pound.
In 2011, businessmen Gary Hillman and Faizal Khan went to Dragons' Den, asking for £80,000. They got what they wanted, and started working away. For a short period of time, there were three models available; Gas, Eco, and Fun. That line has now been reduced to just two - the Gas and Eco models. The speed is usually restricted from the factory at 45 km/h (28 mph) by a computerized system, but can be increased at the buyer's request. Andy Carter has also been building exact Peel P50 replicas in his Nottinghamshire based workshops since the early 1980s.
The Peel P50 was and is still road-legal in the UK and, being in the "three-wheeler" category, less than 8 long cwt (900 lb; 410 kg). The Peel P50 is now also street-legal in the United States. Cars were exported to other countries, sometimes being classified as a moped, e.g. the P50 that went to Finland.
Appearances in the media
On 28 October 2007, the P50 was featured in a segment of the BBC motoring programme Top Gear on BBC Two, during which the presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, entered the car and drove through central London to work. Clarkson, who is 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) tall, demonstrated that it was possible, although difficult, for tall people to get into the P50. Upon arriving at BBC White City, one of the BBC's buildings, he drove past the car parks, between bollards, to the front of the building, after which he pulled the P50 behind him to his office. While showing the car to the production team he said, "I've never seen the Top Gear team so enthusiastic about any car. 'Lads, I've put a Koenigsegg down in the car park.' 'oh. right.' 'Got the new Ferrari down there.' Not interested. This..."
He then drove the P50 to BBC Television Centre. When he got there, he drove the P50 through the corridors of the office building, which included the background of BBC News 24 while it was on air, and used a standard passenger lift (elevator) to get to a meeting, which he attended inside the P50. At the end of the meeting Clarkson drove out of the building and stated that, if the car had a reverse gear, it would be the "ultimate in personal mobility". The car also featured in a 2009 episode of The Xtra Factor, in which Holly Willoughby drove the car into the X Factor studio. A P50 again appeared in a Top Gear episode in 2013 when it was contrasted with the 'P45', a smaller, tongue-in-cheek road legal vehicle designed and built for the show by students from Coventry University.
- "BBC Isle of Man - History - The small car with the big reputation". Douglas, Isle of Man: BBC Isle of Man. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- "The World's Smallest Production Car - The Peel P50". Vince's Worthwhile Website. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- Sutton-in-Ashfield firm wins order for new microcars
- Top Gear. "Tiny A-Peel". Series 10 Episode 3. London: BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- Peel Engineering a company based in England that produces replicas of some of the original Peel cars. They are not to be confused with the original Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man.
- "PEEL P50". Register of Unusual Microcars. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- "Maailman pienin auto - Pirteä Peel P50" (in Finnish). Archived from " the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
- Cowan, Katy (28 January 2013). "Coventry students design 'world's smallest car' for Top Gear". creativeboom.co.uk. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
Ripley's Believe it or Not 2009 Edition, Ripley's Books (2009)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Peel P50.|
|Wikinews has related news: World's smallest car enters Ripley's Believe it or Not museum|
- Granada Reports news broadcast from August 2010 about the new Peel Engineering Company and their cars
- Peel Engineering Ltd
- YouTube video Road-tests, many details and original footage. High quality production, 5.5 minutes.
- Peel Microcars history and pictures
- Peel P50 Factory Movie
- Peel- A little about the car and company
- Peel Cars - photos from the 2005 reunion in Peel of cars from all round the world