Watch Matt Farah Sit In The Peel P50, The Smallest Production Car Ever

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We at The Autopian will not stand for the slander against the mighty Peel P50. It may be a microcar on the outside, but it is truly a macrocar on the inside. To prove this, here’s video of The Smoking Tire‘s Matt Farah gliding into the Peel with his masculine frame during our first Autopian West Coast reader meetup.

What you see here is an original, non-recreation 1962 Peel P50. This little three-wheeler was designed by a British car company to serve as an efficient runabout. It’s cute and tiny, but not so tiny that it can’t fit a full-sized human person like Matt Farah.

[Editor’s Note: I cant just let that brief description be all we say about the Peel P50! The P50 is the smallest production car ever, and while punishingly austere and minimal, it’s an extremely clever design. You can imagine the design process started by getting a guy in a chair, sticking a little moped engine and a tiny gas tank next to him, then drawing a box around the whole thing. It’s a study in the least you need to make a viable car, and it works, in its way. Peel made about 50 of these on the Isle of Man, a bit over half of which still survive today. I have nothing but respect for this incredible, absurd little thing. – JT]

my-retro-vintage — Peel P50 1962

While it’s not as roomy as the Pao Matt’s wife Hannah drove up in, it’s the ideal car for the bachelor on the go. It’s kinda hard to believe we aren’t all driving Peel P50s.

Lna Pao Metro

[Editor’s Note: Hold on, we can’t just ignore my Nash Metropolitan. It’s right there in the picture. It’s humongous, and I didn’t think I’d ever say that about the Met, but it just is. Compared to the Peel it’s the Titanic, and even compared to the Pao it’s a bit of a Snorlax. That’s good, because it’s going to be my LA daily driver, even though loads of people at the car show were telling me that LA sans air conditioning is a death-wish. We’ll see if they’re right. Maybe I’ll install a swamp cooler? Of course, those only work when you’re moving, which isn’t always guaranteed in LA. In fact, it’s guaranteed that I’ll often be stationary. Hmm.

Screen Shot 2022 08 18 At 7.50.18 Am

Anyway, back to the Peel: Matt looked remarkably comfortable in that thing, even though it’s the smallest production car ever. This is a reminder of just how important clever packaging and overall vehicle geometry is when it comes to interior volume. That boxy, upright shape really does seem to have been built around a man sitting in a chair. Matt is fairly tall and medium build, so I bet I’d fit in that thing great. A giant football linebacker or a super-tall basketball player? Maybe not. But honestly, I think the vast majority of folks would have knee and headroom to spare in this little 49 cubic-centimeter DKW two-stroke powered 40 MPH machine. It’s awesome. -DT]. 

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28 Responses

  1. “even compared to the Pao it’s a bit of a Snorlax”

    Whoa whoa whoa – am I the only one seeing this? David “I don’t get cultural/entertainment references” Tracy making a Pokemon reference?!

    Love that Nash, David and can’t wait to see you bring it back to its former glory.

    1. At a guess, there was limited broadcast time for American kids’ TV in Germany but trading-card games were more widely available? And Pokemon, at least for this one character, used the same name in the German and English-language version? (Or David had the latter, bought from the PX).

      1. I’m 56, but my kids were way into Pokemon when they were little. OK, ok, I was also into it. And I still have a full set of first-edition cards in well-played condition (I’m not a weirdo card collector). Just waiting on my grandkids to get old enough to be able to play.

    1. That Jello Picnic site had an article about them the other day, which made me wonder if one would make a good commuter car. (I live in a city in the UK, so that’s slightly less insane than it sounds).
      For about five seconds anyway, until I saw the price and realised I could get a motorbike for less, and probably be safer.

      1. I’m seriously considering getting one, or perhaps one of each. I really don’t like new cars for the most part, but I could see myself getting one of these and a Maverick to haul it around in.

        If I got the electric one I could haul it in the back of a Maverick Hybrid and charge it while I drive, park, unload it, then use it in town for errands.

  2. David, there is a company named “Vintage Air” that makes AC systems small enough to fit in a Ford Model A. You could write an article about piecing together a custom system for the Met. That makes it a business expense and possibly eligible to write off the cost.

    I would also bolt on a better intake and exhaust to compensate for the horsepower needed to run the AC.

  3. I live in Nevada, and don’t have Actual legitimate AC in any of my cars. I do have a swamp cooler, but I primarily use an “Icy Breeze” which uses ice water, and a little radiator and fan to blow cold air. It is a fairly expensive product, and could almost definitely be duplicated for less money, but it does work. Plus you can move it from car to car. I generally point it at the back of my neck and it makes a huge difference in survivability.

  4. “Maybe I’ll install a swamp cooler? Of course, those only work when you’re moving, which isn’t always guaranteed in LA”

    Solar-powered fan on a mount you can swing in front of the swamp cooler when you’re in traffic, and not bursting out into LaLa Land-style dance sequences?

    Also, I am not a tall person (about 5’8), but apparently freakishly proportioned, because from the old picture of me in one of these, I look slightly more cramped than Mr. Farah, and would definitely want a Gurney bubble installed in my own hypothetical personal P50.

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