x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Top 5: small car revivals

With consumer interest in small, fuel efficient vehicles these little cars are coming back in style.

Karen Burch, 20, of Upminster shows how easy it is to park the world's smallest car, the Peel P.50.
Karen Burch, 20, of Upminster shows how easy it is to park the world's smallest car, the Peel P.50.

The Peel P50

The P50, the smallest road-legal car in the UK, was a big hit in the Sixties, but slowly faded away and ceased production in 1969. Then two entrepreneurs, Faizal Khan and Gary Hillman, bought the Isle of Man-based company and got an injection of cash from businessman James Caan after appearing on the TV show Dragons Den. The original Peel was advertised as being able to carry "one adult and a shopping bag", but last year a couple in the UK used the bubble car as their wedding vehicle - the bride took 15 minutes to squeeze her dress in.

Fiat 500

The original, Dante Giacosa-designed Fiat 500 had a production run between 1957 and 1975 and is considered one of the first city cars. In 2007, 50 years after the first Fiat 500 was produced, a new model was presented at a lavish party on the River Po in Turin, Italy, with fireworks lighting up the sky. Within three weeks of the launch, the entire year's production of 58,000 had sold out. An electric version of the 500 for the North American market will go into production in 2012 at Fiat's Michigan headquarters.


When production of the classic Mini ceased in 2000, BMW, the new owner, launched its successor, the Mini, a year later. Development of the new, larger BMW version began in 1995, one year after the German company had acquired the Rover Group that owned the small car. In 2007 the one millionth Mini rolled off the production line, one month longer than it took the classic Mini to reach the same total in March 1965. The Mini range has now extended to include the five-door Countryman, and there are rumours of a seven-seater version.

Morgan 3 Wheeler

Although much of the Geneva Motor Show was very much focused on the future of the automobile industry, one marque seemed to be looking very much in the past. And the Morgan 3 Wheeler was a highlight of the show. The last three-wheeler Morgan came out of the factory in Worcestershire, England, 60 years ago. The new version is powered by a 1.9L engine and has an acceleration from zero-to-100kph in 4.5 seconds. Three hundred advanced orders have already been taken.

BMW Isetta

To compete with the city cars from rival marques, it appears BMW is reviving the Isetta car, renaming it i-Setta. It is strongly rumoured that the Mega City Vehicle is the reimagined Isetta, and will be showcased at next year's Olympics in London and go into production in 2013. According to a BMW blog source, the new Isetta, or i-Setta, will be "a reimagining of the original cult classic using today's and tomorrow technology to provide urban mobility and sustainability in a lovable modern design wholly inspired by the original".