At a mere 54 inches long and just 41 inches wide it has held the Guinness Book of World Records’ title for over 50 years!
The worlds smallest production car was built by PEC – The Peel Engineering Company, on The Isle Of Man between 1962 and 1965. The Peel Engineering Company were originally makers of fibre-glass fairings and small boats when they turned their skills into car production.
It was called the Peel P50 and first retailed for a hundred and fifty pounds. It is also the only car ever manufactured on the Isle of Man.
It was four feet five inches long, three feet five inches wide and three feet five inches high and weighed a hundred and thirty-one pounds, not including the driver! The top speed was forty miles per hour with the wind behind you, driving on five inch wide Avon Kart wheels and tires.
The car had normal pedals to brake, accelerate and change gear but with no starter motor on the ignition, instead a cranking lever was provided to start the engine.
The Peel P50 had a column shift quadrant gear selector. There was a complete absence of instruments, there was not even a speedometer due to the fact that the car would never go fast enough to exceed any road speed limits, hence it was deemed unnecessary.
It was powered by a small single cylinder 49cc two stroke Zweirad Union DKW moped engine that produced a maximum power output of 4.2bhp @ 6,600rpm. The fuel consumption was claimed to be around a hundred miles per gallon. It was jokingly proclaimed to be “cheaper than walking”.
Below a gentleman has kindly lifted the Peel P50 over so that we can have a better view of its little 49cc engine…thank you sir! If I can just add…that axel looks a bitweak!
The chassis was actually constructed from welded tubular steel, with the car body shell being made from Glass Fiber. There was three standard colors for the Peel car and they were Dragon Red, Daytona White and Capri Blue.
The Peel P50 was a single seater with no reverse gear, but this was not a problem…you simply picked the car up and turned it around yourself with the handle that was attached to the rear of the car. Or you could just grab it by the bumper!
The Peel P50 was not a great success as it was noisy, cramped and unstable in that it could tip over if it was driven over uneven ground. It didn’t accelerate very fast and was not very comfortable and every bump in the road could be felt through its tiny springs. The worst part about it though was that it could disintegrate if it was struck by another vehicle and the driver could be easily hurt or killed.
On the plus side it was cheap and very easy to maintain, you could just roll it on its side to change a flat tire and it would only take about two minutes to wash it. As stated earlier parking was NEVER a problem as it could be pushed into the smallest of spaces imaginable. The car could even be picked up, and literally dropped into a parking place.
In 2010, Peel Engineering Ltd in England started re-manufacturing the P50 and Trident models from its premises in Sutton-in-Ashfield, England. 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 49cc, four-stroke motor are being produced, as well as electric models with an electric moped motor and gel batteries. The top speed of both cars is about 28 mph.
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).
At 118 MPG, Peel advertises (reprising their old ’60s era slogan) that driving one is cheaper than walking. It just may be, except for the fact that a pair of shoes doesn’t cost $16,000 for a road legal version.
Now check out Jeremy Clarkson’s adventure with Peel P50 in the video below.