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The story behind the P50 microcar
The Peel 50
The Peel 50 was designed and built by Cyril Cannell and Henry Kissack

Peel Engineering Limited was established in the 1950s and was best known for the production of the Peel 50 and Trident motorcars.

Its most famous creation, the P50, still holds the record for being the smallest production car in the world.

Designed and built by Cyril Cannell and Henry Kissack it was launched at the Earls Court Motorcycle show in 1962.

The car with its welded tubular steel chassis was the first to be manufactured on the island.

At the peak of production Peel Engineering employed 40 people.

The Peel 50
The P50 was advertised as capable of seating 'one adult and a shopping bag'

The company started off engineering fibreglass motorcycle fairings before moving into motor parts and boat hulls.

A Zweiral Union single cylinder 49 cc engine powered the vehicle and the car had a three speed forward gearbox.

To reverse you would have to get out and turn the car yourself with a chrome handle on the rear.

Its lightweight fibreglass body made it light enough for this to be an easy task.

No speedometer

The P50 had the maximum speed of 38 miles-per-hour and was capable of 100 miles-per-gallon.

MANUFACTURER: Peel Engineering Company
ENGINE: DKW 49 cc, fan-cooled (4.2hp)
TOP SPEED: 38mph/61kmph
CLASS: Microcar
WEIGHT: 59kgs
WHEELBASE: 1,270 mm (50.0 in)
BODY STYLE: One door coupe

As the car is a three-wheeler, has an engine under 1000cc and weighs less than 8 cwt, it is technically classed as a motorcycle - so no speedometer was fitted.

The overall dimensions are, 4'4" long, 3'3" wide and 3'10" high.

In 1963 the car retailed at £199.00 compared to around £250 for a good motorbike, and with only 100 coming off the production line, they are worth a lot more today.

The P50 was available in Daytona White, Dragon Red, Capri Blue and Sunshine Yellow. Current owners tell of a number of variations to each individual vehicle, emphasising the hand built nature of the production line.

America's P50

P50s were sent to all parts of the world, including America.

On its American test run the Bureau of Transportation Inspector rolled the car down an embankment, but as he escaped without a scratch, he passed the car as suitable for use immediately.

The P50 shone in a variety of tests including a 15 mile road test in London, where it completed the route a full 30 minutes ahead of a saloon car of the day.

A recent Top Gear episode showed how the car is just as effective today with Jeremy Clarkson concluding: "If it had a reverse gear it would be the ultimate in personal mobility."

The Trident
In 1965 the P50 was developed a stage further with the arrival of the Trident.

The Trident with its distinctive bubble canopy was produced in four variations, single-seater, and two-seater, automatic and electric.

To this day the Trident is still one of the most distinctive cars ever to take to the roads and proved very popular with young couples.

Lovingly restored

Only two P50s remain on the island, one is privately owned and the second is on display at The Peel Transport Museum.

In 2004 The Peel Transport Museum became aware of a 1962 P50 being sold in Cheshire.

With generous help from The Manx Heritage Foundation, The Public Lottery Trustees, a great deal of fundraising and several anonymous donations they managed to raise the £10,500 needed to bring it home.

It has been lovingly restored to its former glory and can be viewed in Peel.

Cyril Cannell died in Noble's Hospital on October 19 2008 at the age of 87, he was an intensely private person, who never married and spent most of his life living next to his workshop in Peel.

Korean TV company films micro car
19 Jun 08 |  Isle of Man
World's smallest car on display
12 Feb 08 |  Isle of Man
Restored Manx motor icon unveiled
10 Jul 06 |  Isle of Man


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