Peel P50: Tiny car that sold for big bucks
Sale price is almost the same as a Porsche 911 Turbo, which would you buy?
The Peel P50 might be dinky in size, puny in terms of power and paltry on passenger and luggage space, but it’s definitely big in one department – price.
One of the 1960’s three-wheeled micro machines fetched an astounding $US176,000 ($NZ259,800) when it sold at auction in Florida at the weekend – more than 60,000 times its original value.
With just 26 other original P50s – the smallest production car of all time - remaining in existence, it means 25 others are currently in ownership of pocket-sized cars with a wallet-busting value.
Those who are fans of the Top Gear series might recognise the Peel P50.
That’s because it’s the car Jeremy Clarkson used to drive though BBC offices during an episode in 2008 and became the inspiration for the sacked host’s own model, the P45 – a satirical take on the future of urban motoring.
But while Jezza’s comical concoction might have been big on giggles, this genuine P50 is massive in value.
One of just 47 original cars to make it off the production line at Peel’s Isle of Man factory, this ultra-rare 1964 version sold at an RM Sotheby’s Florida event on Saturday in what was deemed a ‘hotly contested’ bidfest.
Raising the equivalent of around $NZ293,000, it cost the winning bidder almost the same as a brand-spanking new Porsche 911 Turbo.
But with just 26 known to be in existence today, the new owner now has their hands on a vehicle that’s infinitely more exclusive than the German sportscar.
And it’s not just the availability of the Peel P50 that’s titchy: at just 134cm long and 99cm wide it's the most minuscule of all mass-production motors on record.
Even the wheel count is on the small side with three in total measuring 4.1 inches wrapped in donut-size tyres.
All the power generated by the two-stroke 49cc moped engine is sent to the single rear wheel, though thankfully the horsepower output is a more pony like at a meagre 4.5hp that's capable of a fairly pedestrian 38mph.
With a molded fiberglass cabin enclosing a single beach-chair-like seat for one with no additional passenger or luggage space, it’s not like the moped engine has much weight shift.
In fact, the heaviest thing about the P50 will be the driver – at just 59kg it tips the scales at the same weight as an average washing machine.
That’s probably a good thing, because the three-speed manual transmission has no reverse gear, meaning you have to use a grab handle at the back to lift the car up and spin it round in tight spaces - the owner will need to park it somewhere secure to prevent thieves picking it up and running away with it.
But while it might not be able to go backwards it’s value has certainly gone skywards. Priced at £199 in 1964, the P50 has soared 61,207 times in value in half a century.
Speaking after the sale, RM Sotheby’s Amy Christie said the car caused quite a scene when it appeared in front of the onlooking audience.
‘It was the final lot of the day and drove onto the stage to great applause from the audience,’ she said.
‘It eventually sold for a remarkable $US176,000 against a pre-sale estimate of between $75,000 and $100,000.
‘This represents a world record price for a Peel P50 sold at auction.’