The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 258

1964 Peel P50

  • ID No. D535

Sold for $120,750

The smallest production car ever built.


Manufacturer: Peel Engineering Co.

Origin: Peel, Isle of Man

Production: est. 47

Motor: Zweirad-Union 1-cyl, 2-stroke

Displacement: 49 cc

Power: 4.5 hp

Length: 4 ft. 6 in.

Identification No. D535

The Isle of Man, located between England and Ireland, was home to the Peel Engineering Company, which produced the only cars ever to originate from there. Known as "The Smallest Production Car Ever Built," the Peel P50 began as a project to evaluate minimum possible dimensions needed to build a car, and it was originally nothing more than a fiberglass box on wheels. No engine was fitted to the car when it was exhibited at the 1962 Cycle and Motorcycle Show at Earls Court, but the publicity that resulted allowed Peel to move forward with an actual product. Approximately 47 production models were eventually produced, with the major change from the prototype being that it now had two wheels in the front and one driven wheel in the rear.

Since the car is so simple and minimal in its construction, it was inevitable that copies would emerge as it became a popular collectible, especially given that only 26 of the original 47 examples are known to survive, and even one of the replicas can cost upward of $20,000 to acquire.

Said to be “almost cheaper than walking,” perhaps the manufacture of the Peel P50 would only be known by the exclusive group of owners and microcar enthusiasts who truly appreciate its superlative place in the world of tiny cars. This changed, however, when in the 10th series of the popular BBC television show Top Gear, presenter Jeremy Clarkson introduced the car by asking, “What makes the Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Swift, and Citroën C1 look massive?” The Peel P50 then participated in a series of antics, which included driving through downtown London and into the BBC studios. In one scene it is even seen driven through the background of the BBC News studio during a live broadcast.

It is true though that because of its diminutive size it can literally go anywhere that cars are not supposed to go; the fuel economy is hard to beat too, as it is at 100 miles per gallon. With a minimal cost of £199, it is impossible to complain about the lack of a reverse gear, especially since a handle is affixed to the back to remedy any directional irregularities.

This example has been exquisitely restored by the museum to an astounding standard. Its bright red paint exhibits a deep shine, while all chrome pieces have been replated and exhibit a deep shine. The finish is further enhanced by the natural white rubber bumper strips on all four corners, which are brand new, as are the black window gaskets that hold in unblemished, new Plexiglas windows. The interior is clean and sanitary, as is the nicely refinished steering wheel. This P50 was restored as a showpiece, and it requires only proper mechanical and cosmetic maintenance to be displayed as such into the future.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

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Matt Malamut

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California, United States

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Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

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United Kingdom

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more