Peel P50

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Peel P50
1965 Peel P50, The World's Smallest Car (Lane Motor Museum).jpg
Peel P50
Manufacturer Peel Engineering Company and Peel Engineering Ltd (UK-based)
Production 1962–1965 [1]
2010–present (EV)
2011–present (Petrol)
Assembly Isle of Man 1962-65,
England 2010–present
Designer Cyril Cannell
Body and chassis
Class Microcar
Body style One-door coupe
Layout Side engine, rear wheel drive [2]
Related Peel Trident

'63–'64: DKW 49 cc, 4.2 hp, fan-cooled (top speed: 61 km/h (38 mph)

2011 Petrol: 49cc, 2.5 kW (3.35 hp), Four-stroke engine

2011 Electric: 2.3 kW (3.08 hp), Brushless DC electric motor

'63–'64: 3-speed manual, no reverse

2010 EV: Single fixed gear

2011 Petrol & Electric: Continuously variable transmission
Wheelbase 1,270 mm (50.0 in)
Length 134 cm (52.8 in)
Width 99 cm (39.0 in)
Height 100 cm (39.4 in)
Curb weight 56 kg (123 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. It was listed in the 2010 Guinness Book of Records as the smallest production car ever made.[3] It has no reverse gear but a handle at the rear allows the very lightweight car to be physically manoeuvred 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 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 still exist.[4]

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.[5]


At 54 in (1,372 mm) long and 39 in (991 mm) wide[6] and with an unladen weight of 59 kilograms (130 lb), the P50 holds the record as the smallest car ever to go into production.[3]


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).

In 1963, as a publicity stunt, A Peel P50 was taken to the top of Blackpool Tower in the lift and driven around the observation balcony.[7]

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 15 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 the Dragons' Den asking for £80,000. They got the investment and started a new company which put their revised models into production. Three replica models were available initially: Gas, Eco, and Fun. The line was later reduced to 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.[8]

Andy Carter has also been building exact Peel P50 replicas in his Nottinghamshire-based workshops since the early 1980s.[citation needed]

Legal status[edit]

Peel P50

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,[9] sometimes being classified as a moped (e.g. the P50 that went to Finland[10]).

Appearances in the media[edit]

On 28 October 2007, the P50 was featured in a segment of the BBC motoring programme Top Gear on BBC Two, during which presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, entered the car and drove through central London to work. Clarkson, who is 6' 5" tall (1.96 m), demonstrated that it is possible (albeit difficult) for tall people to drive the smallest car in the world, as accredited by Guinness World Records. 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.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "The World's Smallest Production Car - The Peel P50". Vince's Worthwhile Website. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  3. ^ a b Craig Glenday (ed.). Guinness World Records 2010 (56 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 162. ISBN 1904994490. 
  4. ^ Peel Microcars Register
  5. ^ Sutton-in-Ashfield firm wins order for new microcars
  6. ^ Top Gear. "Tiny A-Peel". Series 10 Episode 3. London: BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  7. ^ Currie, Bob (23 May 1963). "Fresh air and fun". Motor Cycle (London: Iliffe Specialist Publications Ltd) 110 (3128): 622. 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "PEEL P50". Register of Unusual Microcars. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  10. ^ "Maailman pienin auto - Pirteä Peel P50" (in Finnish). Archived from " the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  11. ^ Cowan, Katy (28 January 2013). "Coventry students design 'world's smallest car' for Top Gear". Retrieved 6 February 2013. 

Ripley's Believe it or Not 2009 Edition, Ripley's Books (2009)

External links[edit]