Market Finds: Size Matters: The Peel P50 Is Still The Ultimate Microcar

Size Matters: The Peel P50 Is Still The Ultimate Microcar

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
February 8, 2016
1 comments

Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

When it comes to compact classics, there are a number of adorable lightweights to choose from. With its sure-to-get-looks-everywhere, the BMW Isetta (or the Iso Isetta, its progenitor) is a charming gas-sipping two-seater that makes parallel parking effortless—thanks to its single door mounted up front. Slightly larger, the original Mini revolutionized the way automakers designed compact cars, thanks to its clever packaging, while its remarkable handling indefinitely won the hearts of enthusiasts. But what if these offerings are too mainstream for you?

Well, you’re hard to please, but thankfully this is for sale at no reserve: a 1963 Peel P50. It set the Guinness World Record for the “Smallest Production Car Ever Made,” until some gimmicky built-for-the-record “car” stole the title in 2014.

The P50 measures in at 52.8” long, just 39” wide, and 39.4” tall. With a 123-pound curb-weight, the 4.2 horsepower 49cc two-stroke single-piston engine is capable of propelling this solo-seater to a blistering 38 mph! Not bad, for an estimated 100 mpg.

In 1963, the P50 was just £199 new ($2,200 in today’s money) and only ~50 were produced—this example being one of just 26 originals believed to be remaining. Jeremy Clarkson comically declared the P50 would be the, “Absolute ultimate of personal mobility,” if it were equipped with a reverse gear. Not to leave you stranded, the folks at Peel foresaw the need for backing-up and installed a rear-mounted handle as an amusing, yet functional, solution.

Here’s the catch: this little red pocket-rocket is bound to fetch big money. How much? Astoundingly, a very similar P50 sold for well over six-figures—$120,750 to be exact. I know…bollocks. Seeing how this specimen was meticulously restored and was also a member of since-shuttered Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum, it’s possible this example could break the former P50 sale price record.

Bummer, right? Well, in 2010 Peel Engineering started remanufacturing the P50 with both electric and gas options! Even better, because the P50 is a 3-wheeler with such a small motor, they’re road legal in the United States, United Kingdom, and a number of other countries. The new P50 start at around $21,530—not cheap, but far more reasonable than an original.

But if you’re a collector and must have an original, it’s not like there isn’t going to be room in the garage for it.

History
– The world’s smallest production automobile
– One of 26 original examples known to survive
– Formerly of the famed Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

Specifications
~4.5 hp, 49 cc two-stroke single-cylinder Zweirad-Union engine, three-speed manual transmission, coil-spring front and rear suspension, and cable-operated three-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 50 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: D535

Valuation
Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: (No Reserve)
Price realized: Auction on March 12

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Martin Philippo
Martin Philippo

The photographer was playing a dangerous game, placing the car just over the manhole cover. It could just have fallen through the gaps!