If you’ve been in the Guinness World Records’ book three times for having the world’s lowest car, it can become kind of mundane to keep on doing the same thing.
Automotive builder extraordinaire Perry Watkins – builder of a road-going Dalek back in the Eighties -- was pondering on what to produce next when he hit on the idea of building the world’s smallest car … and here it is, a diminutive delight he’s tongue-in-cheek named Wind Up.
Aiming to eclipse the wee dimensions of a Peel P50 – a quaint, 4-foot-tall, single-seat, 49cc two-stroke-engine, three-wheeled micro car made by Peel Engineering in Peel on the Isle of Man in the early Sixties, and which has long been the world’s smallest production car and an ideal mode of transport for persons desirous of being the centre of attention – Perry felt inspired by the Postman Pat van from the well-known television series.
He duly searched on eBay for something suitable, plumping for a Postman Pat coin-in-the-slot children’s ride from a vendor in Scotland. It was in non-operative order, but for what Perry had in mind, this was of no consequence.
He only wanted the bare fibreglass body from the ride, and this meant removal of Pat and cat Jess, the money box and sundry other bits and bobs. The ride’s single door was cut out and replaced by sheet steel, and the whole kit and caboodle reinforced by installation of a box-section steel frame.
By purchasing a Chinese-made quad bike on which to mount the body, Perry was able to get the novelty registered with the DVLA for road use and thus for all intents and purposes can claim to have the world’s tiniest car… or van, to be precise.
The quad-bike has had the seat section cut off and the swing arm shortened by 7 inches, though the main part of the frame remains unaltered.
The top and bottom suspension wishbones have been similarly shortened, and the shock absorbers relocated in order to keep the vehicle overall width roughly one-third less than the P50’s 41-inch dimension.
The chain-driven pair of axles has also been shortened by 6 inches in order that they – like the front end –allow for fitment of narrow rolling stock, thereby keeping the wheels and tyres within the legal confines of the 26-inch-wide bodywork.
The rear shock absorber/spring has also been remounted, now sitting in a vertical position
A seat was fabricated from aluminium and upholstered in padded vinyl, with a LUKE 4-point harness to keep the driver restrained.
Not that he needs much constraining because there’s simply very little room inside the 39-inch-high contrivance to move about!
The quad bike’s handlebars were ditched in favour of conventional steering through use of a 90-degree U-jointed column and Mountney leather-rim wheel. The chunky rolling stock has also been discarded, with the chrome rear wheels now being 8-inch (somewhat smaller than the 10-inch pressed-steel rims with which the original Mini of 1959 was outfitted) items sourced from a Honda pit bike and mounting 4-inch-wide Kings tyres.
Up front, Perry had narrower custom rims machined from billet alloy and these mount Primo rubber.
Entry and egress is made through contorting oneself and sliding under the rear-hinged body that’s supported by Honda Jazz tailgate struts, which may not be the, er, height of convenience, but does the job.
The 150cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine puts power to the ground through a CVT automatic transmission that has simple forward and reverse options. The original controls remain in situ, albeit relocated as necessary.
There are now checker plate footpads in place, and with the addition of mirrors, windscreen wipers and washers, lights and indicators, plus a Hilborn hood scoop, large revolving key – something that’ll amuse kids of all ages -- and pseudo exhaust tips sticking out the back for added aesthetic appeal, it’s fair to say the black and flamed novelty will turn many a head when it takes to the Tarmac.
With a top speed of around 40mph, the 52-inch-long street machine stops on the proverbial dime thanks to disc brakes front and rear, which is all well and good except that the sales director for Timpsons, Britain’s largest high street chain of shoe repairers, will likely be chuckling so much inside the claustrophobic confines he’ll have trouble keeping control.
And why exactly would innovative Perry undertake such a project in the first place? Simple: “It was a challenge just to see if I could do it.” Well he has, and succeeded in spades. And that’s no wind up!