The biggest UK classic car show starts on Friday 16th November at the Birmingham NEC.  As the UK’s biggest classic car event with around 1500 classic cars and 350 classic motorbikes on display it provides a fine homage to motoring history. 

Whether you’re into vintage racers, pre-war classics, supercars, tiny micro cars or huge American beauties, some of the world’s oldest and most beautiful cars will be on display.

As the show organisers state: “It’s all about bringing together people who share a passion for cars”

This year’s show theme is ‘What’s the Story’ as many of the popular classic cars on display have a story to share.  Perhaps it’s the car’s story that we really buy into when considering our classic car purchases.  For example, would the Aston Martin DB5 be nearly as popular or expensive if it hadn’t featured as James Bonds car?  How would we perceive the original British Mini if it wasn’t for the film The Italian Job?  Talking of which, in celebration of this year’s event, The Electric Theatre in Birmingham, which is the UK’s oldest working cinema, will be showing original 1969 film featuring  the iconic car chase scene with the red, white, and blue Mini’s on 10th November at 3pm.

The Italian Job Mini's in Birmingham

Performance Direct will of course be exhibiting at the Classic Motor Show again this year and as it’s story time at the Classic Motor Show we’ve picked a car with a long and interesting story behind it to show off on our stand; The Peel P50, renowned as the worlds smallest car.  In fact, as they are so small we’ve got two of them.  So, as the theme of the show suggests, let’s ask, “What’s the story?”.

Peel P50

Firstly, I’d like to start with BMW.  “What have BMW got to do with the Peel P50?” I hear you cry.  And the answer is nothing at all really.  Okay, so why bring it up?  BMW have just released information on the 116d Efficient Dynamics five-door hatchback which won the award for the best internal combustion engine in the recent 64 mile Brighton to London run.  The car averaged 103 mpg for the run and it was seen as a spectacular triumph for the famous car marque.  But the Peel P50 makes this achievement look fairly insignificant as it has been doing over 100mpg since 1962, with the modern versions up to 118mpg.  That’s almost 20 percent more efficient that a prize winning BMW.  Yes the BMW can reach a top speed of 121mph, carry passengers, is comfortable to sit in and has a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds which is over twice the speed that the Peel P50 can reach but the Peel P50 is far cuter because it’s very very little.

The Peel P50 is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest car in the world.  At 54 inches long and 41 inches wide it was designed to fit a single occupant with a single bag of shopping in.  Originally retailing for under £200, the 2-stroke, 49cc, 4.5 HP engine powers the fibreglass three-wheeler up to a top speed of 28mph.  The car has no reverse gear but is light enough that if you get yourself boxed in you can simply get out of the car, pick it up, and put it somewhere else.  Something that is far more difficult in a BMW.

Peel P50 with Top Gears Jeremy Clarkson

The Peel P50 seems to win over the hearts and minds of anyone that sees it.  I remember seeing it featured on Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson drives one into the Top Gear offices.  The entire Top Gear team found the car to be completely irresistible and were clambering over each other to get near to it, which really does say something when you consider the sort of supercars that they usually get to play with.  Perhaps it was merely because it was the first car that Clarkson had driven inside the office but I like to think it was down to the unique appeal (a-peel) of the car.

Peel P50 - Jeremy Clarkson on 2 wheels

The cute little Peel P50 has seen a lot of celebrity action.  As well as being featured on Top Gear it has also seen such stars behind it’s little wheel as Danni Minogue and Holly Willoughby.

Peel P50 with Holly Willoughby

It was when it featured on Dragons Den in 2011 that the company got it’s biggest boost though.  James Caan invested £80,000 in the company and secured himself two Peels, a P50 and a Trident, for his driving pleasure.  I wonder how often he drives them?  The investment has seen the company being able to move forward and continue to trade this quirky and interesting piece of motoring history.  Just to clear this point up, the modern Peel P50’s are manufactured by a company called Peel Engineering Ltd and are made in England.  This company is not to be confused with the original company called the Peel Engineering Company which manufactured it’s cars on the Isle of Man until 1966.  While they produce the same products and sound exactly the same they are two very distinct and separate companies.

Peel P50 original advert

With the continued industry thrust for smaller engines, better economy and smaller city cars the Peel P50 takes a proud stance in both the history and the future of motoring.  Without the P50 would we have the much larger but still relatively quite small Renault Twizy for example?  The Peel P50 is particularly remarkable in one way – you only need to look at the photo of Danni Minogue below as this is the typical look of someone sitting in the car.  You just can’t help but smile when you sit in one.

Peel P50 with Danni Minogue

More about the NEC Classic Motor Show.

For classic car fans the NEC Classic Motor Show really does have a lot to offer.  If you’re looking for car parts there is an Autojumble which is so large it’s been said that if you’re looking for a product of service for a classic car and it’s not at the show it probably doesn’t exist.

TV’s ‘Wheeler Dealers’ Mike Brewer and Edd China will be hosting the popular live show again which is free to attend for ticket holders.  Experts from Leeds City College will be demonstrating restoration and maintenance techniques in the Restoration Theatre so that you can learn new skills and old techniques from the masters.  They’re an extremely knowledgeable team and are generally happy to chat and answer questions from like-minded car fans.

While on the subject of restorations, Maguiars self-acclaimed ‘car crazy’ team will be showing off some of the finest restorations on their stand.  The quality of restoration work is second to none and they always have something interesting to show off to the car fanatic crowd.

If you’re in the market for a new, rather an old, classic car there is a Cars for Sale section with all tastes and budgets catered for, from 10k to over 100k, it’s a great place to consider your next purchase.  Alongside this will be the acclaimed Silverstone Auctions which even if you have as little money as me it’s well worth a look round to drool over metalwork that you’ll probably never afford.  I’m still drooling over the most beautiful Jaguar XK150 I’d ever seen from the last Silverstone Auction I went to.

And who wouldn’t want a ride in their dream car in exchange for a donation to charity.  Cobras, Ferraris, Maserati’s, Porsches, GT40’s, Jags, MG’s, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins will all be there ready for you to play with.  The segment is run by the charity ‘Sporting Bears’ who give their time, fuel, and the wear and tear on their cherished cars free of charge.  All the money collected goes to charity.

So come along to the Classic Motor Show and visit Performance Direct and the Peel P50 on our stand (Number: 10T10).

Show dates/times are:
Friday November 16th – from 10am – 6.30pm
Saturday November 17th – from 9am – 6.30pm
Sunday November 18th – from 9am – 5.30pm

For those of you wishing to relive Jeremy Clarksons Peel P50 experience on Top Gear here’s the video:

Peel photos: Andy Carter

For more information on the Peel P50 and Peel Trident please visit:

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