The smallest road legal cars ever built

19th March 2021
Laura Thomson

Words such as ‘compact’ and ‘convenient’ are banded around the car industry like no-one’s business, with every manufacturer touting their latest city slicker as the smallest thing since the matchbox car. And after driving the Renault Ami a couple of weeks ago, it got us thinking… What are the world’s tiniest cars? We all know of the Smart car, which can famously be driven or reversed into a parallel parking spot, but do motors get any more miniature than the Mini itself? You’d be surprised…


Peel P50

Fifty by name and 50 by nature, the Peel P50 three-wheeler boasts a wheelbase of just 50 inches (1,270mm). Fifty were built between 1962 and 1965 by the Isle of Man Peel Engineering Company, and they retailed at £299 when new (roughly £6,400 in today’s money). In 2010, the P50 was officially named the smallest car ever built in the book of Guinness World Records.

Measuring 134cm long, 98cm wide and 100cm high, it weighed just 56kg – less than your average British adult – but could reportedly fit one in, plus a shopping bag. It was powered by a 49cc DKW engine and featured a three-speed gearbox, with no reverse gear (there was a handle for towing it backwards, however), and 37 mph and 100mpg were reportedly achievable. The strange little car was available in red, white or blue and featured a single door on its left-hand side, one windscreen wiper and one central headlight.

In 2010, the P50 was relaunched following an investment on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den of £80,000. These are still hand built to order by Micro Car Specialists in Sutton-in-Ashfield, costing £14,879 for a petrol model and £13,679 for the electric version.

If you like weird cars, have a read of our list of five weird '90s supercars you've never heard of.


Buddy Electric

Perhaps the coolest car to make it to our list, the Buddy Electric is a Norwegian electric city car launched in the early 2000s. Sharp and colourful – think a seriously squished Lamborghini – it measured 244cm long, 143cm wide and 144cm tall. The wheelbase stretches just 155cm – that’s only 10cm longer than this motorcycle – but it can still seat three.

It has a range varying between 12 and 37 miles depending on the season, topography and driving style (Mazda reckons most drivers only cover 26 miles per day), and a maximum speed of 50mph. It takes six to eight hours to charge fully, or one hour to rapid charge for a range of 6.2 miles (10km).

Despite its limited practicality, in 2007, the Buddy, and its predecessor, the Kewet, made up 20 per cent of the electric cars in Norway, and by October 2013, combined sales of the two equalled about 1,500 vehicles.



What would this list (or indeed GRR’s Gary Axon) be without the Isetta – possibly the most recognisable microcar the world has ever seen?

Known for its bulbous form and front opening door, the Isetta was an Italian designed tiny two-seater that swept the world through the 1950s, built first by Iso Autoveicoli and later under licence by BMW, VELAM and Romi. Initially, it was powered by a 236cc 10PS (7kW) two-stroke motorcycle engine, which was coupled to a four-speed gearbox (complete with reverse!). Dimensions varied slightly between models, but the egg-shaped motor originally measured 229cm long and 137cm wide.

In its Brighton-build BMW guise, which featured a 298cc four-stroke engine (with a 53mph top speed) it even became the best-selling single-cylinder-engined car in the world, with 161,728 examples sold. It also became the world's first mass-production car to achieve a fuel consumption of 94mpg – what’s not to like?


Tango T600

Straighten your head and stop squinting – there’s nothing wrong with your computer resolution, either. While it may appear the Photoshop-yourself-skinny trend actually started decades before Instagram, this is in fact the Tango T600, and it’s perhaps the strangest microcar we’ve ever set our eyes on.

The single-seat electric ‘sportscar’, which was designed and built by Washington-based Commuter Cars, measured 257cm long and just 99cm wide (that’s the same width as this motorbike).

Born of founder Rick Woodbury’s realisation that 106 million people in the United States were driving to work alone, it was initially intended to be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell but a delay in the technology meant it featured individual electric motors on each wheel. Production of 100 units per year was promised from 2005, with actor George Clooney famously taking delivery of the first, however the second model didn’t emerge until early 2008. By the end of that year, just 10 cars had been built and sold for an average of $121,000 each. By 2014, fewer than 20 had been built.



While this isn’t a conventional car per se, it’s the first microcar built exclusively for wheelchair users.

Designed in Hungary by a company specialising in handicap aids and subsequently built in the US, the electric Kenguru is barely bigger than a wheelchair itself, measuring 215cm long, 155cm wide and 147cm tall. The entire rear is a door, which lifts up to allow the user to roll their wheelchair straight in, to sit in front of the mobility scooter-esque handlebar controls.

Launched in the mid-noughties, the Kenguru promised affordable mobility for disabled people, with a maximum speed of 30mph and a range of up to 30 miles.


Revai G-Wiz

The Revai (G-Wiz to us Brits) was a tiny EV built by the Reva Electric Car Company (latterly Mahindra) between 2001 and 2012.

Measuring 260cm long, 130cm wide and 150cm high, it is unique in this list for the fact that it could fit four occupants – well two adults and two children. It boasted 17PS (12kW) from its electric motor and thanks to a ‘boost’ function could reach speeds of up to 50mph. After early models failed a 25mph crash test, Lotus engineering was brought in to bolster the models safety, resulting in the addition of front disc brakes, a collapsible steering column, and a reinforced chassis. The Lithium-ion model, launched in 2009, reduced charging time to six hours, and extended the G-Wiz’s range to 75 miles.

Despite its odd appearance, the G-Wiz was a huge hit, and by 2013 had sold in excess of 4,600 vehicles in 26 countries around the world.



A wildcard in this list, the Fuldamobil has been dubbed one of the 20th century’s longest production microcars. Produced in various forms for almost two decades, from 1950 until 1969, it started life as a humble wooden-framed, vinyl covered, chainsaw-powered machine.

Further development led to a steel, central tube frame chassis and a Fichtel & Sachs 360cc engine, which allowed the Fuldamobil Type N-2 to reach 50mph. The plywood and fabric body was replaced with hammered aluminium sheets, giving the car a distinctive look and the nickname ‘Silver Flea’.

Over its production run, 3,000 examples were built, many of which varied in exact dimensions, materials and engine, with the earlier ‘N’ measuring 272cm long, 140cm wide and 132cm and subsequent models increasing slightly in size. But one thing remained consistent – its odd form, which arguably birthed the term ‘Bubble car’.

  • Microcar

  • BMW

  • Isetta

  • Buddy Electric

  • Fuldamobil

  • Revai

  • G-Wiz

  • Tango T600

  • List

  • Peel

  • P50

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