The Isle of Man, located between England and Ireland, was home to the Peel Engineering company which produced the only car ever to originate from there. This small company provided the microcar world with some stimulating ideas, still discussed decades later. Originally producing motorcycle fairings and boat hulls it also produced car body kits in the 1950s.
The famous P-50 was introduced in 1962 as the world’s smallest passenger car. The tiny 4’2″ long car amounted to a chair on go-kart wheels surrounded by a close-fitting angular fiberglass body. Powered (using the term loosely) by a 49 cc Zweirad Union (DKW) moped motor underneath the driver, it generated more noise than power. At an advertised 100 miles per gallon, it was “almost cheaper than walking”. A contemporary road test joked that the top speed was dependent upon the size of the steak that the driver had for dinner.
The Trident was launched at the 1964 British Motorcycle Show held at Earls Court. The seat, stated as being 31 in (79 cm) wide, was intended to provide for use as an occasional two-seater. A completely new design from the earlier side-engined Peel P50 microcar, the Trident was manufactured in 1965 and 1966. This was essentially the same chassis but with a slightly larger futuristic 2-seater body shell, topped by a large clear plastic dome which lifted for entry. Perhaps 45 were built, the last six of which were fitted with the 98cc motor with automatic belt transmission out of the Triumph Tina scooter. This car is one of these, purchased from the designer, still living on the IoM, and displayed at a German museum for some years. Peel offered a 12 volt electric motor version with a running radius of 65 km in 1966, and went on to build bodies for Minis.
“The Trident is a good example of why all those futuristic bubbletop cars of GM’s Motorama period would never work: The sun would cook you alive under the Plexiglas” – TIME
Text: microcarmuseum; wikipedia
Images: Darin Schnabel