The Bamby P50: How Small Is Too Small?


The Bamby P50 microcar. Image: Bamby Cars Limited

The Bamby P50 microcar. Image: Bamby Cars Limited

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We enjoy small cars and wouldn’t think twice about hopping into a Fiat 500, Mini Cooper  or Mazda MX-5 for a road trip. We'd even consider a Smart ForTwo under the right circumstances, but we'd have to draw the line at the recreation of the Peel P50 microcar.

Bamby Cars Limited, a small firm in Gainsborough, UK, is now building a modernized replica of the Peel P50, which went out out of production in 1965 (but not before earning the distinction of being the world’s smallest production car).

The Bamby P50 retains the Peel’s dimensions and layout, but adds such modern amenities as a reverse gear, an automatic transmission, rack and pinion steering and a safety-glass windshield. As this BBC video report points out, the updates make it road legal in the U.K., except for use on motorways.

How small is the Bamby P50? It's just about five feet in length and a little over three and a half feet in width. Power comes from a 49cc four-stroke engine, good for 3.35 horsepower and a top speed of around 28 miles per hour.

The company doesn't mention fuel economy, but it’s fair to say that the Bamby P50 will likely exceed the 2011 Toyota Prius' 51 mpg city.

Diminutive in size doesn't mean diminutive in price; the hand-built replicas sell for around $12,000 (before VAT), which is enough to buy a well equipped (and infinitely more practical) 2012 Nissan Versa.

Despite the high price, one American collector has already purchased five Bamby P50s, though he may face challenges in getting them licensed as actual cars. It goes to prove that not all of us have a love affair with pickup trucks and SUVs.

(BBC News)

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