Peel P50

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Peel P50
1965 Peel P50, The World's Smallest Car (Lane Motor Museum).jpg
ManufacturerPeel Engineering Company and Peel Engineering Ltd. (UK-based)
2010–present (EV)
2011–present (Petrol)
AssemblyIsle of Man 1962–1965,
England 2010–present
DesignerCyril Cannell
Body and chassis
Body style1-door coupé
LayoutSide engine, rear wheel drive[2]
RelatedPeel Trident
Wheelbase1,270 mm (50.0 in)
Length134 cm (52.8 in)
Width99 cm (39.0 in)
Height100 cm (39.4 in)
Curb weight56 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 World Records as the smallest production car ever made.[3] It had no reverse gear, but a handle at the rear allows the very lightweight car to be manoeuvred 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 £1,400 in 2010, or US$2,200). The company produced 50 P50s and only 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.[4]

In 2010, Peel Engineering Ltd. in England started re-manufacturing the P50 and Trident models from its premises in Sutton-in-Ashfield, England.[5] Externally this car is very similar to the original, but with mechanical differences in the suspension, steering, and drive-train, as well as a fully functioning reverse gear, ensuring they are road legal on today's roads. Petrol models with a 49 cc, four-stroke engine are being produced, as well as electric models with an electric moped motor and gelled-electrolyte batteries. The top speed of both cars is about 28 mph (45 km/h).


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 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 2008 episode of Top Gear, where a blue P50 was driven through the BBC's Television Centre.


The P50 used a 49 cc (3.0 cu in) DKW 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. 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 US$120,000 (£80,000).


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.

Legal status[edit]

Peel P50

The Peel P50 was and is still road-legal in the UK and, being in the "three-wheeler" category and less than 8 long cwt (900 lb; 410 kg), it is now also street-legal in the US. Cars were exported to other countries,[8] sometimes being classified as a moped (e.g. the P50 that went to Finland[9]).

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 foot 5 (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. This episode has over 16 million online views, and is the third-most watched episode ever.

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.[10]

Since 2011, Peel Engineering Ltd. has put their cars in many other famous media campaigns, including: Cadbury's Bubbly advertisement, Ford Transit advertisement, Fab Mini Ice Lolly campaign, Top Gear China, Top Gear Australia, Top Gear USA, ABC USA and FOX News USA.

The Peel P50 is a barn find in the 2018 racing video game Forza Horizon 4. The player character is able to find an example of a '60s-era model abandoned in a barn and take possession of it, and ultimately restore it to driveable condition. The in-game version can manage speeds of 38 mph, which is faster than the P50 could go.

In 2018, an electric P50 was featured in the CBeebies show Catie's Amazing Machines, in an episode about three-wheeled machines. [11]

The Peel P50 featured on an episode of the US Game Show "I've Got a Secret" shown on 6 October 1963. Popular British entertainer Roy Castle's secret was he was enclosed in a packing crate in which he was sitting inside a Peel P50, Roy Castle proceeded to drive the car around the stage. An excerpt of this can be found at [12]

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 P50: Tiny car that sold for big bucks". Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Sutton-in-Ashfield firm wins order for new microcars". 16 December 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2017 – via
  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. Iliffe Specialist Publications. 110 (3128): 622.
  8. ^ "PEEL P50". Register of Unusual Microcars. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  9. ^ "Maailman pienin auto - Pirteä Peel P50" (in Finnish). Archived from " the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  10. ^ "Coventry students design 'world's smallest car' for Top Gear". 28 January 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Catie's Amazing Machines".
  12. ^ "Roy Castle Driving A Peel P50 in USA May 1963".

External links[edit]