We’ve got a sneaking suspicion that top-tier collectors, on the whole, probably don’t have a particularly rich sense of humor when it comes to classic cars. Millions of dollars change hands every year at Monterey’s auction, in most cases for sculptural, coachbuilt grand tourers or sports cars that have impeccable history or provenance, better suited for the concours green than a blast down to the shops. However, for the collector who’s in it for the fun, RM Sotheby’s offers a pair of Peels at its 2017 Monterey sale.
Designed and built on the Isle of Man, these tiny little microcars have carved out quite the sizeable niche for themselves in recent years, despite their diminutive size. Thanks to some exposure from a popular Top Gear segment, prices for original Peels has grown substantially since they were conceived as a semi-viable alternative to walking.
For solitary individuals, consider this Daytona White ’64 Peel P50. Advertised as being able to host one adult driver and a shopping bag, the P50 is the final word in compact transportation. Power, or at least what little it has, comes from a 49cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine, putting out a robust 4.5 hp. 0-60 mph? Try a top speed that halts abruptly at 38 mph. If you keep it in the city, it’s the ideal commuter car, just be careful not to get it into any difficult maneuvering situations – there’s no reverse gear. Still, the car is so light and small, drivers can pick the car up and drag it by the handle attached to the rear.
Need space for a passenger? No problem – get in line to bid for the red ’65 Peel Trident. Supposedly, this was designed to shuttle both a driver and a passenger, but the Trident’s two-person capacity is dubious at best. We’ve driven both the P50 and the Trident, and our presiding memory is one of oppressive heat, thanks to a magnifiying effect caused by the large clear dome. Power comes from the same 49cc one-cylinder engine, although a small handful of cars came with 98cc engine from a Triumph Tina scooter.
At this point, it might come as a shock that in spite of both the size and complete lack of usability on modern roads, these aren’t cheap. These are rare cars, and considering the incredible novelty, prices hover around the $150,000 mark for the P50 and around $70,000 for the Trident.
Both Peel microcars scuttle across the auction block later next month at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale.