Peel P50

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Peel P50
1965 Peel P50, The World's Smallest Car (Lane Motor Museum).jpg
Overview
ManufacturerPeel Engineering Company and Peel Engineering Ltd. (UK-based)
Production1962–1965[1]
2010–present (EV)
2011–present (Petrol)
AssemblyPeel, Isle of Man 1962–1965
Sutton-in-Ashfield, England 2010–present
DesignerCyril Cannell
Body and chassis
ClassMicrocar
Body style1-door coupé
LayoutSide engine, rear wheel drive[2]
RelatedPeel Trident, Peel Viking Sport, Peel Manxcar
Powertrain
Engine
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase1,270 mm (50.0 in)
Length134 cm (52.8 in)
Width98 cm (38.6 in)
Height100 cm (39.4 in)
Curb weight56 kg (123 lb)
Chronology
PredecessorPeel Manxcar
SuccessorPeel Trident

The Peel P50 is a three-wheeled microcar originally made from 1962 to 1965 by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man, and then from 2011 to present. It was listed in the 2010 Guinness World Records as the smallest production car ever made.[4] The original model has no reverse gear, but a handle at the rear allows the very lightweight car to be maneuvered physically when required.

Designed as a city car, it was advertised in the 1960s 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 £6,600 in 2019, or US$8,500). The company produced 50 P50s, of which 27 are known to still exist, one of which was sold for a record US$176,000 at a Sotheby's auction in March 2016.[5]

In 2010 Peel Engineering Ltd. in England reinstated manufacturing of the P50 and Trident models from its premises in Sutton-in-Ashfield, England.[6] Externally this car is very similar to the original, with the same dimensions and kerb weight as the original, but with mechanical differences in the suspension, steering, and drive-train, and a fully functioning reverse gear, ensuring they are road-legal under today's rules. Production included petrol models with a 49 cc four-stroke engine and electric models with an electric moped motor and gelled-electrolyte batteries. The top speed of both cars is about 28 mph (45 km/h).

Statistics[edit]

At 54 in (137 cm) long and 39 in (99 cm) wide[7] and with an unladen weight of 130 pounds (59 kg), as of 2021 the P50 holds the record as the smallest car ever to go into production.[4] The Peel P50's diminutive size and width means that it can quite easily fit through doorways and enter buildings, as demonstrated by Jeremy Clarkson during a sequence on a 2007 episode of Top Gear, where a blue P50 was driven through the BBC's Television Centre.

1962–1966[edit]

The original P50 used a 3 cu in (49.2 cc) DKW single-cylinder engine, which gave it a top speed of approximately 37 mph (60 km/h), and was equipped with a three-speed manual transmission that had no reverse gear.[8] 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.[9]

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 £299 each.

On 15 February 2013 at the Bruce Weiner RM Auction a genuine 1964 Peel P50 (Registration number ARX 37B) achieved in excess of US$120,000 (£80,000).

Since 2011[edit]

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 to put their revised models into production. Three replica models were available initially: Gas, Eco and Fun. The line was later reduced to two: the Petrol and Electric models. These are hand-built to order in Sutton-in-Ashfield by Micro Car Specialists for the domestic and export markets.

In 2018 it was reported that Peel Engineering sells around fifteen P50s annually, plus ten or so continuations of its bigger sister, the two-seat bubblecar Peel Trident.[10] The conventional piston engined P50 is more requested in the UK, priced at £14,879 – whereas greater demand for the Peel comes from the US, where the electric model (at £13,679) helps owners to comply with emissions regulations.

Legal status[edit]

Peel P50

The original Peel P50 has always been road-legal in the UK, though the many replica versions are classed as Kitcars and as such, require MSVA inspection for 3 wheel Moped or 4 wheel Quadricycle. It is street-legal in the US. Cars were exported to other countries,[11] sometimes being classified as a moped (e.g. the P50 that went to Finland).[12] In the Netherlands there are two original Tridents registered as tricycles, but the Trident replica with the 50cc engine and 45 km/h (28 mph) top speed was registered as a moped. In Amsterdam the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum has one. Due to local traffic rules it may not be driven on the cycle path. In Wassenaar the Louwman Museum had an original P50 on display; it was on the poster of the "Dwarfcar" themed exhibition.

See also[edit]

References[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 23 May 2009.
  2. ^ "The World's Smallest Production Car - The Peel P50". Vince's Worthwhile Website. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  3. ^ "1964 Peel P50".
  4. ^ a b Craig Glenday, ed. (2009). Guinness World Records 2010 (56 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 162. ISBN 978-1904994497.
  5. ^ "Peel P50: Tiny car that sold for big bucks". Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Sutton-in-Ashfield firm wins order for new microcars". BBC News. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  7. ^ Top Gear. "Tiny A-Peel". Series 10 Episode 3. London: BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  8. ^ "1964 Peel P50".
  9. ^ Currie, Bob (23 May 1963). "Fresh air and fun". Motor Cycle. Iliffe Specialist Publications. 110 (3128): 622.
  10. ^ New Peel P50L a drive in the world's smallest car – Autocar
  11. ^ "PEEL P50". Register of Unusual Microcars. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Maailman pienin auto - Pirteä Peel P50" (in Finnish). Archived from " the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2013.

External links[edit]