The world’s smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned


When cars were still portable

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-S-Class powerful cooler slim flanks

A Miss Automobile was chosen at the 1960 Motor Show in the Parisian Grand Palais. Her name was Lydiane Huet and the car she posed on was a Vespa 400

Source: Getty Images

An opportunity for collectors: In March a Peel P50 will go under the hammer, it is considered the smallest production car in the world. Small cars are exotic today, but there was a time when such models were fashionable.

S.superlatives make it famous: as the “smallest, mass-produced car in the world” according to the Guinness Book of Records, the P50 was often named by the former British manufacturer Peel. That this is true can be questioned simply because the tiny thing is a tricycle – but let’s not be so strict.

Manufactured on the Isle of Man from 1961 to 1963, the Peel is legendary. Jeremy Clarkson also contributed to this nimbus. The presenter of the car show "Top Gear", who was 1.96 meters tall and shot by the BCC, squeezed himself into the vehicle, which was only 1.34 meters long and a good one meter wide. He drove through BBC television headquarters or pulled the hundredweight car behind him like a trolley.

In March, a copy will go under the hammer at the RM Sotheby’s auction on Amelia Island. Often this does not happen, because there should only be 26 pieces of the Peel, reports the auction house on its website.

Three years ago, the P50 with chassis number D535 fetched $ 120,750 at an RM auction in Madison, Georgia. With it, 200 other microcars changed hands against the highest bid. It was the dissolution of what was then the world‘s largest collection of miniature cars, compiled by a manager from the chewing gum industry.

The museum in which the little treasures were parked is history today, but has left digital traces. The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum homepage is still online. You can virtually click through the former collection of microcars, which had their heyday after World War II and into the 1960s, when resources, money and gasoline were scarce. Six examples:

The Subaru 360

In Japan, miniature cars are not something that is limited to history – there is the class of so-called kei cars. They must not be longer than 3.39 meters long and have a displacement of more than 660 cubic centimeters. In return, the state gives, among other things, tax deductions. When Mr. Weiner’s collection went up for auction in February 2013, a Subaru 360 from the late 1950s fetched $ 23,000.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-powerful cooler slim flanks S-Class

Back on the road: a Subaru 360 at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show

Source: Getty Images

Vespa 400

From Piaggio there are and were not only scooters. Between 1957 and 1961, the Italian manufacturer also built the Vespa 400, a miniature car based on minis like the Goggomobil or the Isetta. A copy from the first year of construction brought in just under $ 29,000 at the RM auction.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-powerful cooler slim flanks S-Class

Vespa – today a synonym for motor scooters. But that was not always so

Source: picture alliance / JOKER

Goggomobil darts

There was also a far rarer roadster version of the well-known Goggomobil from Hans Glas GmbH. It was the Australian variant of the German car dwarf. With the permission of Hans Glas himself Buckle Motors from Sydney produced the roofless version between 1959 and 1961.

The car with the plastic body weighed just under 400 kilos, but with a weak two-stroke two-cylinder it was still not really fast: a good 100 km / h, but faster than the actual Goggomobil.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-powerful cooler slim flanks S-Class

Not as fast as an arrow: the Goggomobil Dart

Source: Stephen Foskett / Wikipedia

Zeta Sports

The sports car brand Zeta struck in the same direction: two-stroke, open, plastic body, no bumpers and no doors. It was also produced in Australia with a connection to Germany. The two-stroke engine, which put its 21 hp on the rear axle, came from Sachs. The 400-kilo car was produced in small numbers between 1963 and 1965.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-powerful cooler slim flanks S-Class

To jump in: the Zeta Sports has no doors

Source: Peripitus / Wikipedia


The German version of the mini plastic roadster was the sparrow from Bayerische Autowerke GmbH. The model, which was later renamed the Victoria 250, was built between 1956 and 1958. Its single-cylinder two-stroke engine had a maximum of 14 hp.

Even in the heaviest version, the 3.30-meter three-seater weighed less than half a ton. In the small car auction of 2013, a copy from 1956 fetched exactly $ 32,200.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-smallest

Unusual, also because it has a bench for three: the sparrow

Source: Wikipedia

Mazda K360

Something like Piaggio’s Ape, the load variant of the Vespa, was also available from Japan. The Mazda K360, the number stands for the approximate size of the engine in cubic, came on the market a good ten years after the Italian original in 1959. A model from the Bruce Weiner collection fetched $ 25,300.

The world's smallest car: Peel P50 will be auctioned-powerful cooler slim flanks S-Class

Mini pick-up from a Japanese past: the Mazda K360

Source: Wikipedia

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