Originally marketed as spacious enough for only a driver and a shopping bag, the Peel P50
rolled off production lines on Britain's Isle of Man in the 1960s with one door, one headlight and a single windshield wiper. It was 54 inches long and 41 inches wide and weighed no more than your average teenager, 130 pounds, making it the smallest production car ever. The P50 and its slightly bigger sister, the Peel Trident
, went out of production in the mid-1960s, but two years ago a new manufacturer decided to revive the brand. Now, as skyrocketing gas prices have sparked a small-car heyday, 50 drivers will have the chance
to own a new one.
The newly re-formed Peel Engineering Co. is producing the P50 and the Trident, which is cherry red with a clear, dome-shaped roof, in a batch of 50 vehicles at a price that's appealingly low -- $12,676, according to Gizmag
-- though not quite as inexpensive as the original $315 price tag ("Almost cheaper than walking," went the marketing slogan).
The micro-mini cars will be available in gasoline and electric versions, and the Peel P50 will topple the Tata Nano
as the world's current smallest production car. It joins a growing international fleet of micro-mini vehicles, including the VolkswagenUp!
and the Scion iQ
In terms of the Peel's drivability and comfort, in an episode of "Top Gear" a few years ago (below), host Jeremy Clarkson managed to cram his 6-foot, 5-inch body into a P50 for a test drive. He noted that the vehicle's top speed depended on how big a breakfast the driver had eaten, but that even the slenderest of Peel drivers likely wouldn't be able to push its 49-cc moped engine above 35 mph. Arriving at his office behind the minuscule wheel of the P50, Clarkson simply picked it up and brought it inside -- no need to look for a parking spot.
Curious drivers who don't want to commit to purchasing the diminutive car can rent a Peel in the U.K. -- though the daily rental fee, at $1,585, might be steep enough to make them consider buying one instead.