Unusual Vehicles looks into the history of unconventional machines that have captured the public’s attention. The Peel P50 has the distinction of being the the world’s smallest production car and it was listed in the 2010 Guinness World Records. Although it might look as if it was designed as a joke, the P50 sold in the UK and abroad.
The P50 was designed by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. Manufactured in 1962, the three-wheeled microcar was promoted as a city vehicle. According to advertising it could seat “one adult and a shopping bag.” The car only had one door, one windscreen wiper and one headlight. There was no reverse gear, but a handle at the rear allowed the P50 to be physically moved when necessary.
The 1963 model was priced at £199, which worked out to around £1200 by modern standards. Peel produced 50 P50s and only 27 are said to exist today. This didn’t stop Peel Engineering Ltd from revitalising the model in 2010. The updated version looked similar to the original, but came with different equipment. It had new suspension and a functioning reverse gear to ensure it was road legal.
A petrol model and electric model exists. The petrol model comes with a 49 cc four-stroke engine, while the electric model possesses an electric moped motor and gelled-electrolyte batteries. Both versions have a top speed of 28 mph.
The P50 has appeared on TV, most notably in an episode of Top Gear in 2007. Jeremy Clarkson drove it to find out if it was accomodating for tall people. Clarkson asserted that it was possible for tall people to drive the world’s smallest car. Another P50 appeared on the show in 2013 to be contrasted with a tongue-in-cheek version called the ‘P45.’
Peel Engineering have also featured the car in several media initiatives, including the Ford Transit advertisement, Cadbury’s Bubbly campaign, Fab Mini Ice Lolly campaign and Top Gear USA.