Driving the world’s smallest car

P50 Cars Remember that episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson drives to work? Sounds like the dullest TG feature ever, right? But this particular cross-London commute was different; this time, the Tousled One was behind the wheel of a Peel P50.

For the uninitiated, the P50 is 54 inches long, 41 inches wide and holds the Guinness world record for being the smallest road-legal car. It’s officially tiny enough to drive along the corridors of BBC Television Centre and share an elevator with Fiona Bruce. Not even a Smart can do that.

A small obsessionP50 Cars

The Top Gear ‘review’ reignited interest in P50, and also sparked something in Jim Buggle: founder of P50 Cars. At the age of 13, Jim had watched a documentary about Peel – narrated, oddly enough, by DJ John Peel. It was his first step in a lifelong obsession with this quirky microcar from the Isle of Man.

Years passed and Jim swapped his toys for tools, got an engineering degree and decided to remanufacture the car Clarkson called “the ultimate in personal mobility”.

And that’s how I end up on a nondescript industrial estate in south London, grinning from ear to ear as I blast to 25mph and (slightly) beyond.

Meet the FairweatherP50 Cars

The car I’m here to drive isn’t just any P50, but the world’s only convertible version – christened the ‘Fairweather’ by Jim’s business partner Craig Wilson.

Craig is P50 Cars’ one-man production line, and a bona fide engineering genius. He’s lovingly assembled the Fairweather from scratch in a room scarcely larger than my kitchen. You’ll search in vain for robots or laser welding rigs here; fibreglass bodies are moulded and painted on-site, with many parts – such as the steering wheel and rear lights – made by hand.

Cheaper than walkingP50 Cars

The number of late nights and bruised knuckles that have gone into the Fairweather explains why its Qatari soon-to-be owner is paying a hefty £17,000 for it.

A ‘regular’ P50, however, starts at £6,499 as a build-it-yourself kit, or £8,499 fully assembled. Not quite “cheaper than walking”, then (to quote Clarkson again) – but not far off.

Petrol or electricP50 Cars

The original car used a DKW moped engine, but the modern version (which, incidentally, isn’t badged a Peel – P50 Cars doesn’t own the trademark) uses a replica Honda Cub unit. Estimated fuel economy is a thrifty 145mpg. Take that, Prius.

You can also opt for a 3.1kW electric motor with batteries that charge to 80% capacity in an hour, or fully charge in two. “It’ll run directly off the mains if you find a long enough lead,” says Jim, only half in jest.

Get a handle on itP50 Cars

This P50 doesn’t have a reverse gear, yet backing it out of the workshop is laughably easy. Jim grabs the handle on the bumper, hoiks the rear tyre off the ground and wheels it out: shopping trolley-style.

I try for myself, marvelling how this tiny car can be lifted with one arm then spun on its axis. It feels like you could take it anywhere. Except, perhaps, up or down steps…

Comfier than ClarksonP50 Cars

Clarkson needed two attempts to shoehorn his 6ft 5in frame inside a regular P50 (pictured), but, at a vertically-challenged 5ft 7in, my task is considerably more straightforward. The absence of a roof helps, too; simply pop the catch on the rear-hinged door and step inside.

You wouldn’t call it accommodating, though. I’m perched on a glorified garden chair, enclosed by bare fibreglass (“carpets are optional”, says Jim). There’s a speedo – sourced from an East German Simson motorcycle – plus a clever miniature audio system (essentially an amplifier and two speakers for your smartphone). But that’s your lot.

Peel’s on wheelsP50 Cars

Such concerns are soon forgotten when I fire up the engine. The original Peel had to be cranked into life with a starting handle, but this retro remake has electric start. Click-whirr-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud. It sounds, unsurprisingly, just like a moped, its single-cylinder motor vibrating through the thinly-padded seat.

I click the column shift into gear and I’m off, a bemused postman watching my every move as I edge gingerly onto the road.

Industrial revolutionsP50 Cars

At this juncture, I should point out that the Fairweather isn’t road-registered. So although it has lights, indicators and a horn, it doesn’t yet wear number plates. As such, I’m restricted to private roads on the industrial estate where P50 Cars is based. But that’s more than enough space to get this unique car up to speed.

Speed? Jim reckons the P50 will top 40mph flat-out, but a restrictor limits it to 30mph. On the plus side, that means it can be driven on a provisional licence. And car tax (VED) is the same as a moped: just £18 a year.

Getting up to speedP50 Cars

Frankly, 30mph feels swift enough when you’re inches from the tarmac in something akin to a two-tone bidet. The reborn P50 boasts 4.5hp – twice the output of the 1962 car – so it gathers pace steadily, bouncing over bumps as the 50cc motor blares boisterously from below.

The familiar soundtrack jogs memories of the Pizza Hut moped I rode in my student days. Pizza deliveries by P50? Now there’s a thought…

Sense of scaleP50 Cars

It may not be quick, but the P50 changes direction like a toddler on tartrazine. Thank tiny six-inch wheels, sharp steering and a wheelbase shorter than my inside leg. There are no gears to worry about, so driving it couldn’t be easier: you simply steer and go.

Stopping is more of an issue, however. I’m somewhere north of 15mph when a monster truck (OK, a Nissan Qashqai) looms ominously into view. I dab the left pedal and… nothing. Only when I squeeze harder does the P50 gently scrub off speed. Jim looks on nervously as I putter past, my eyes barely level with the crossover’s door mirrors.

Consumer adviceP50 Cars

On reflection, perhaps it’s a good thing I won’t be unleashed on the streets of Bexley today. Dicing with London buses and homicidal Uber drivers in this beautifully-finished, one-off P50 isn’t a prospect I’d relish.

Sensible consumer advice, then: unless you live on the Isle of Man, the P50 isn’t ideal commuter transport. It won’t have trendy urbanites trading in their Twizys. But as a budget fun car, it takes some beating.

More smiles per mileP50 Cars

And by the Power of Grayskull, this thing is fun. You know how 1980s hot hatches would cock an inside rear wheel when cornering hard? The P50 does the opposite. Take liberties with the steering and it can lift an outside front wheel, ‘waving’ at oncoming traffic like a demented, one-eyed alien.

It’s genuinely, laugh-out-loud hilarious – certainly more so than a moped with a stack of Stuffed Crusts on the back. Even jaded, post-lunchbreak mechanics and warehouse workers can’t help but smile.

Say yes to TridentPeel Trident

P50 Cars currently builds about one vehicle a month, but has ambitions to grow. A faded fibreglass buck in the corner of the workshop provides the clue: “That’s the two-seat Trident,” explains Jim, “our next project.”

The bubble-domed Peel Trident resembles the flying car from The Jetsons cartoon. Built between 1964 and 1965, it actually outsold the P50. According to the John Peel documentary, the Trident was “popular with courting couples” – perhaps because its tiny cabin meant driver and passenger would, inevitably, become intimately acquainted.

Manx for the memoriesP50 Cars

I’m excited to see the production Trident – and genuinely wish P50 Cars all the best. It’s great to see an innovative British company thriving in this niche market. However, for me, the P50 will always be the star. Where the Trident bears similarities to other microcars of the era (Messerschmitts, Heinkels, BMW Isettas, and so on), the P50 is like nothing else. And, 45 years later, it’s still the world’s smallest car.

This summer, Jim and Craig plan to gather a group of owners and return to the P50’s Manx home. There, they’ll lap the famous Isle of Man TT course in a convoy of P50s. It will be a fabulous spectacle – and one that should make the islanders rightly proud. Just don’t expect any lap records.

Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Revealed: the world’s best selling cars of 2016

Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016What were the world’s best-selling cars of 2016? Thanks to Focus2Move, we have the answers, as we reveal the most popular cars across the globe.

The F2M Global Mobility Database tracks over 3,500 vehicles sold in more than 1,500 countries, and includes light commercial vehicles. Here are the cars that made the top 10, presented in reverse order.

10. Toyota CamryRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 660,868

Toyota unveiled a new 2018 Camry at the Detroit Auto Show, and on this showing it can’t come soon enough. The Camry slides from 6th to 10th, with registrations down 11.5%.

9. Honda CivicRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 668,707

Compare and contrast with the admittedly smaller Honda Civic, which has seen an 18.7% increase in registrations, jumping from 17th to 9th in the process. We’ve driven the new Civic and are pleased to report it’s rather good.

8. Volkswagen PoloRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 704,062

There’s a new Volkswagen Polo on the way. In the meantime, registrations of the existing model are holding steady at just over 700,000 units.

7. Toyota RAV4Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 724,198

The Toyota RAV4 is the one member of the top 10 that always surprises us. It’s not that it’s a bad car, it’s just that it’s not exactly memorable either. Still, 724,198 people can’t be wrong. Can they?

6. Ford FocusRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 734,935

The Ford Focus recorded the biggest drop in the top 10, with registrations down 11.7% compared to the same period in 2015.

5. Honda CR-VRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 752,463

No such problems for the Honda CR-V, which sees a 5.7% increase compared to 2015, breaking into the top five in the process.

4. Hyundai ElantraRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 788,081

The Hyundai Elantra climbs one place, with registrations up 3.9%.

3. Volkswagen GolfRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 991,414

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen drops from second to third. A sign that people are waiting for the new Mk7.5 Golf? We’re driving the new Golf this week, so stay tuned for our initial thoughts.

2. Ford F-SeriesRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 993,779

For a vehicle that is sold predominantly in North America, this is quite a remarkable result. The Ford F-Series remains the best-loved pick-up and the second best-selling car in the world.

1. Toyota CorollaRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 1,316,383

Which leaves the Toyota Corolla to cement its crown as the world’s most popular car. Registrations are down 3.6%, but Toyota is still able to shift 1.3 million units.

Figures courtesy of the F2M Global Mobility Database.

The best-selling cars around the world

The best-selling cars around the world

The best-selling cars around the worldThe Ford Fiesta has been the best-selling car in the UK for what seems like an eternity, but what about the cars doing the business in other countries? Thanks to data sourced from the Best Selling Car Blog, let us take you on a whistle-stop tour of the world as we discover the most popular cars of November 2016.

USA: Ford F-Series (72,089 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

Few things in life are guaranteed, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the Ford F-Series will remain at the top of the US sales chart. Registrations are up 11% compared to November 2015, with the car in second spot – the Chevrolet Silverado – shifting a ‘mere’ 45,280 units.

China: Haval H6 (70,292 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

For the first time in Chinese history, more than one million SUVs are sold in a single month, reports the Best Selling Cars Blog. Meanwhile, saloons are down 0.1% and MPVs are down 19%, as China mirrors the trends seen across the world. The Haval H6 is quick to take advantage, overtaking the Wuling Hongguang to claim top spot. Registrations are up 74% compared to November 2015.

India: Maruti Suzuki Alto (23,320 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

Maruti Suzuki dominates the sales charts in India, with no fewer than seven models found in the top ten. Sitting pretty at the top with 23,320 registrations is the Maruti Suzuki Alto, while the more familiar Swift, Baleno and Celerio also appear near the top.

Germany: Volkswagen Golf (17,841 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

The Volkswagen Golf remains the meister in Deutschland, but registrations are down 16% compared to the same period in 2015. Overall, Volkswagen’s year-to-date registrations have shrunk by 3%, but it does manage to fill 40% of the top ten. Creeping into the top ten, with registrations up 29%, is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Japan: Nissan Note (15,784 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

In Japan, the charts are split into two groups: standard cars and kei cars. Overall, the Nissan Note is the best-seller, thanks largely to the launch of the new e-Power variant. Registrations are up a huge 144%, seeing it rise from 30th to 1st, toppling the Toyota Prius in the process.

Brazil: Chevrolet Onix (15,700 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

For the second consecutive year, the Chevrolet Onix is set to cement its position as the most popular car in Brazil. Meanwhile, the Jeep Compass – still fresh from its global debut in Brazil – jumps from 75th to 23rd position. Does this point to wider success for the Brazilian-built SUV?

Italy: Fiat Panda (13,197 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

The Fiat Panda remains numero uno in Italy, but the star performer is its larger sibling – the Fiat Tipo. Registrations are up 3,276%, seeing the Tipo jump from 14th to 4th in November. The estate version is now the best-selling car in its segment, ahead of the Audi A4, Volkswagen Passat and Peugeot 308.

Canada: Ford F-Series (11,273 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

As the Best Selling Car Blog points out, pick-ups are the dominant force in Canada, with the Ford F-Series, Ram Pick-up and GMC Sierra up 37%, 16% and 20% respectively. In common with the US, the F-Series is by far and away the leading vehicle, with 135,422 registrations in 2016.

France: Renault Clio (10,163 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

As you’d expect, the top ten in France is dominated by French cars, with the Renault Clio sitting pretty at the summit. Meanwhile, the new Megane slots in at number six with 4,793 registrations, while the new 3008 makes its debut with 4,476 units, enough to earn it a seventh place slot.

South Korea: Kia Morning (9,256 registrations)The best-selling cars around the world

If the Kia Morning looks familiar, it’s because you’ll know it as the Kia Picanto. It’s the first time the city car has topped the South Korean charts since November 2014.

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Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales chartsComparing half-year sales with the same period in the previous year is a good measure of a car’s increasing appeal. Using data sourced from the Focus2Move Global Mobility Database, we can reveal the cars that have recorded the biggest increase in sales over the past six months, compared with the same period in 2015. We’ll present the list in reverse order.

20. Opel/Vauxhall Astra: sales up 20.1%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Opel unveiled the current Astra at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and it went on to scoop the 2016 European Car of the Year award, beating the Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5 into second and third place respectively. For the first time in a while, this is an Astra that shouldn’t lead to a sigh of disappointment if you’re handed a set of Vauxhall keys at the rental desk. Sales up from 109,588 in the first half of 2015 to 131,657 in the same period this year.

19. Fiat Panda: sales up 20.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

This time last year, the Fiat Panda was languishing in 119th position with 92,212 sales. Fast forward 12 months and the uniquely Italian city car has hauled itself up to 90th place with 110,998 sales. It’s the only city car to offer Squircles. Many, many Squircles.

=17. Nissan Qashqai: sales up 20.5%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Not only is the Nissan Qashqai the most popular crossover in the UK, it’s doing a mighty fine job of conquering the world. Sales are up from 182,509 in the first half of 2015 to 219,950 in the first six months of 2016. Last year, Renault launched the Kadjar, which shares the same Qashqai platform.

=17. Kia Sportage: sales up 20.5%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

What a difference a new model makes. The fourth generation Kia Sportage was launched at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and you just knew it would sell like very hot cakes. Sales are up from 220,441 in the first half of 2015 to 265,663 in 2016. Looks like the model is simply carrying on where the old model left off.

16. Toyota Highlander: sales up 20.7%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The third generation Toyota Highlander offers enough space to seat eight people and is built in the United States and China. At the 2016 New York Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the new 2017 Highlander (pictured), which offers a new eight-speed transmission, a subtle new look and a host of safety features. Christopher Lambert is said to be a fan. Probably.

15. Volkswagen Lavida: sales up 23.2%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The Chinese market Volkswagen Lavida is one of the most popular cars in China, where some 287,354 units were sold in the first half of 2016. That, in itself, shows the size of the Chinese market. The Lavida is the 15th most popular car in the world and is so good, Ricky Martin wrote a song about it. Almost.

14. Honda Vezel: sales up 25.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

You’ll know the Honda Vezel as the HR-V, but the sales figures are split, putting the Vezel 14th on our list of rising stars. A jump from 93,571 in the first half of 2015 to 117,381 in 2016 equates to a 25.4% increase in sales

13. Volkswagen Sagitar: sales up 26.7%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Yes, what you’re looking at is a Chinese market Volkswagen Jetta, known as the Sagitar. The compact saloon is another popular car in China, with half-year sales totalling 170,426, an increase of 26.7% compared with the same period last year.

12. Jeep Cherokee: sales up 30.2%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Some felt the the styling of the Jeep Cherokee KL would be too ‘adventurous’ for some, but half-year sales of 182,866 suggests it’s finding its feet. Sales have been rising, year-on-year, since it was launched in 2013. The way things are going, the Cherokee will blitz the 220,260 units sold in 2015.

11. Dongfeng Fengguang 330/370: sales up 30.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

This isn’t a big seller, with half-year sales of 99,443, but it does represent a 30.4% increase compared with the same period last year. The Dongfeng rockets from 162nd to 99th place overall. Not ‘arf, pop-pickers.

10. Toyota Prius: sales up 36.6%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The arrival of the all-new, fourth generation Toyota Prius is having a positive impact on sales, which are up 36.6% compared with the same period last year. The new car arrived at the end of 2015, which suggests buyers were waiting for the new and improved version. Total half-year sales: 208,477.

9. Haval H6: sales up 39.7%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Haval claims to be the number one SUV brand in China, so it’s arguably the biggest name you’ve never heard of. It’s part of Great Wall Motors and the H6 is a compact SUV introduced in 2011. With half-year sales totalling 240,253, this is the best-selling SUV in China.

8. Ford Edge: sales up 56.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

There are a number of reasons why the Ford Edge could continue to rise up the charts. Firstly, there’s the growth of the crossover-SUV market to consider. Secondly, the Edge is now available in Europe for the first time. Total sales of 144,150 might seem relatively modest, but the second half of 2016 could prove to be quite lucrative for the Edge.

7. Buick Excelle GT: sales up 60.2%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

This is Shanghai GM’s entry for the compact saloon segment. The Buick Excelle GT was introduced in 2015 and it offers a choice of two petrol engines – a 1.8-litre and a 1.5-litre. Buick just happens to be Shanghai GM’s most popular brand.

6. Dodge Grand Caravan: sales up 69.6%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The Dodge Grand Caravan is billed as “Canada’s best-selling minivan”, while it’s also pretty popular in the United States. Like for like sales are up from 58,449 to 99,151 – an increase of 69.6%.

5. Buick Envision: sales up 76.1%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The Buick Envision is the first Chinese-made car to be sold in the US, so it’s quite a big deal. North American sales should add to the 115,937 units sold in the first half of 2016.

4. Honda HR-V: sales up 88.9%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Here’s that Honda again, this time with its more familiar name. This is proof that statistics will only tell you half the story, because the HR-V only went on sale in the US in May 2015, although it was already on sale in Thailand. It arrived in the UK in the summer of 2015.

3. Jeep Renegade: sales up 154.1%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

Like the Cherokee, the Jeep Renegade appears to be finding its feet. Half-year sales are up 154.1%, meaning the Fiat 500X-based SUV has moved from 267th place to 77th overall. Total sales for the first half of 2016: 127,211.

2. Hyundai Tucson: sales up 202.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

The Tucson has benefited from a name change, which accounts for the dramatic 202.4% increase in sales. The second generation Hyundai ix35 was known as the Tucson in South Korea and Columbia, before the ix35 name was ditched for the arrival of the third generation car. It deserves its 285,060 sales, but don’t read too much into that percentage increase.

1. GAC Trumpchi GS4: sales up 809.4%Rising stars: cars that have stormed the sales charts

It’s a similar story for the GAC Trumpchi GS4, which was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015. Second half-year sales will be more telling for the Chinese-built SUV.

Going the extra mile: the world’s hardest-to-reach post deliveries

Going the extra mile: the world’s hardest-to-reach post deliveries

Going the extra mile: the world’s hardest-to-reach post deliveries

As tough jobs go, you may not think being a postman or woman compares with the likes of being an SAS soldier, Arctic explorer or North Sea gas rig worker.

But not all post delivery locations are as easy reach as Postman Pat’s quaint village of Greendale. And some drivers have far bigger challenges than the occasional unfriendly dog.

In fact, cars can’t be used to deliver mail to many of the most remote places in the world, such as the Canadian Arctic or Tristan Da Cunha, a tiny island nearly 3,000 miles off the coast of South Africa.

We reveal five of the world’s hardest-to-reach delivery locations, and the lengths postal staff go to in order to deliver to them.

Alert, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada

02 World's toughest post deliveries

Inside the Arctic Circle and just 500 miles from the North Pole, this remote outpost is believed to be the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place.

Although it has no indigenous population (they are the Inuits, who live 500 miles further south), it’s home to the staff of a Canadian military base and the Environment Canada weather station.

Situated at the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island, Alert is surrounded on one side by rugged hills and valleys. The land and sea are carpeted in snow and ice for at least 10 months of every year, and in some years the ice doesn’t melt at all.

So mail and other provisions are delivered by Hercules cargo plane once a week, weather permitting. The flight time from Canada’s northernmost cities is around eight hours, and hazards along the way include blizzards and temperatures of -50 degrees centigrade.

Bardsey Island, off the coast of West Wales

World's toughest post deliveries

For more than 40 years Ernest Evans, 68, has gone the extra mile (or five) once a week to deliver mail to the eight inhabitants of Bardsey Island.

The tiny community consists of a farming family, a couple who run a bird observatory and the warden of the Bardsey Island Trust.

Ernest, who is also a lobster fisherman, plans his post runs at least two days ahead, sailing when the weather and tide are best. The mail is stored in waterproof postbags.

Ernest took over from his father, John Evans, who did the same journey from Porth Meudwy beach near Aberdaron to Enlli for 15 years.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

World's toughest post deliveries

Getting to Ittoqqortoormiit can be an adventure in itself. To reach it you have to cross Northeast Greenland, the world’s largest and most northerly national park, which is home to polar bears, musk oxen, walruses and seals.

While this remote settlement is reasonably accessible by sea for the brief summer months, the only viable form of transport for nine months of the year is a helicopter from the airport 24 miles away.

Although Ittoqqortoormiit was only founded in 1925 by settlers from Denmark, today it’s home to 450 people, so there’s a significant amount of mail to transport.

Supai Village, Arizona, USA

World's toughest post deliveries

A standard post delivery van is no use for getting mail to this village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only way to get post, food, supplies and furniture down the eight-mile path to it is the traditional way – by mule train.

Every day, the mule train transports an average of 1,800kg of goods to the 200-strong Havasupai Indian tribe, who live in Supai.

It takes at least a week for deliveries to reach Supai from the main post depot in city of Bullhead, Arizona, so any mail order purchases need to be planned well ahead.

Tristan Da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean

World's toughest post deliveries

Not surprisingly, delivering post to the world’s most remote island is the most lengthy task of all.

It takes a fishing boat six days to sail the 2,800 miles there from Cape Town, and with only one boat doing the journey every three weeks, residents need to allow up to a month for items to be delivered.

And that’s an improvement on the situation 10 years’ ago. Until August 2005, the island didn’t have a postcode, so most companies refused to accept orders from residents – and with a capital called Edinburgh, post often went astray.

The island’s 270 residents still have to plan ahead, though, so Christmas presents don’t arrive at Easter.

10 of the best barn-finds you’ll wish you had discovered


Next time you go walking past a dilapidated barn, take a peek inside. Chances are, there could be something of real interest lurking inside. Like a car, perhaps.

We’re not entirely sure why you’d put a car in a barn and then forget about it for decades, but the number of so-called ‘barn-finds’ suggests it happens more often than you’d think. And no, we’re not talking about the dubious ‘barn-finds’ listed on internet auction sites. Deciding to sell a car that’s been parked on your driveway or in your garage for a couple of years doesn’t count.

Selecting the 10 best barn-finds of all time is harder than you might think. We could have included countless Aston Martins, Ferraris and Jaguars. Sure, there are four Ferraris in our top 10, but each one has a remarkable story to tell. So, grab a torch, dust off the cobwebs and join us as we take a tour of the greatest barn-find cars in the world.

Ferrari 250 GT California


This 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was part of the remarkable Baillon barn-find collection unearthed in France last year. More than 60 cars – including the Ferrari 250 GT – were stashed away by a wealthy collector, but then forgotten about. Roger Baillon, an entrepreneur who ran a transport company, had started assembling the collection in the 1950s. His aim was to build a collection of pre-war cars in a museum environment, but when his business fell on hard times, Baillon was forced to mothball the collection. Sadly, he died 10 years ago.

The Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was undoubtedly the star of the collection. Its first owner was comedian Gérard Blain, who later sold it to actor Alain Delon. He was photographed in the car alongside Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda, giving the Ferrari added provenance. The car was considered lost forever and was indeed written off by historians. It sold for a record-breaking £12.1 million at auction. Forget cash in the attic, this was more cash in the barn.

Barn-find Ferrari sells for record £12.1m£12m-french-collection-is-a-proper-barn-find/ss-BBgA7GU#image=1

Lotus Esprit ‘Submarine Car’

03_Best_Barn_Finds_Tim Scott ©2013 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

What’s the best Bond car of all-time? No, not the Aston Martin DB5, it has to be the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me. Its appearance in the film didn’t happen by chance. In a classic example of product placement, the Lotus PR team had positioned a de-badged pre-production model of the Esprit directly opposite film producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s office at Pinewood Studios. Broccoli liked what he saw and a deal was struck for Lotus to supply two production vehicles for the movie. Seven extra body shells were supplied, one of which had been sealed all round for the famous underwater scenes.

The body was shipped to Perry Oceanographics, where it was converted to underwater use. The rest is history and, once the filming was complete, the Esprit was shipped to New York where it remained in a storage unit for 10 years. Amazingly, it was bought in a Storage Wars-style blind auction and the couple who had won it couldn’t quite believe what they had unearthed. It’s the only functional Lotus Esprit Submarine Car. In 2013, it sold at auction for £616,000. The buyer? A certain Elon Musk of Tesla fame.

James Bond’s submarine car goes up for sale’s-submarine-car-goes-up-for-sale/ss-AA8RlYU#image=1

The Aristotle Onassis Lamborghini Miura


Internet auction sites are littered with unwanted presents. Clothing, jewellery, cosmetics, Lamborghinis… Wait, Lamborghinis? OK, so here’s the story. Stamatis Kokotas was kind of a big deal in Greece in the 1970s. What do you mean, you haven’t heard of him? Kokotas was to the Greeks what Tom Jones is to the Welsh. The singing rally driver was even nicknamed the ‘Greek Elvis’. Yes, you read that right – Kokotas was part rally driver and part singer. What a guy.

Turns out Kokotas also had friends in high places, such as the Greek shipping millionaire, Aristotle Onassis. Amazingly, Onassis gifted his friend a metallic brown Lamborghini Miura P400S. Records suggest that the Miura was confined to an underground car park at the Athens Hilton after an engine fire at 52,000 miles. There it stayed until 2004, when the Athens Olympic Games saw it moved to another location. In 2012, it failed to reach its reserve at auction and hasn’t been seen since. A potential barn-find of the future?

Bugatti Type 57S Atalante


In 2009, this Bugatti Type 57S Atalante hit the headlines after being discovered in a garage where it had been gathering dust for 50 years. The car was originally owned by Earl Howe, the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. Dr Harold Carr bought the Bugatti in 1955 and drove it for a few years before leaving it in a garage near his home in Gosforth for the best part of five decades. Dr Carr suffered from a form of OCD and hoarded everything he owned. After his death, his relatives also found an Aston Martin and a Jaguar E-Type. The Jag was in such a sorry state, it had to be scrapped.

Only 17 of these Bugattis were built, so it was no surprise when it sold at auction for £2.8 million.

Citroen 2CV prototypes


The Citroen 2CV went on to become one of the world’s most successful cars, but this was largely thanks to a game of wartime hide and seek. With the outbreak of war and the German occupation of France, Michelin and Citroen were keen for the Nazis not to discover the original prototypes – or TPVs. They were squirrelled away in barns and outbuildings, where they stayed until the end of the war. In fact, the cars were so well concealed, it was felt that they were lost forever.

But Citroen’s management team knew of their whereabouts and sent orders for them to be destroyed. Upon hearing this, some workers decided to hide them away, realising they had immense historical value. They remained in their hiding place until 1995, when they were found in French barn.

Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta

07_Best_Barn_Finds_Hugh Hamilton ©2010 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Only 25 Ferrari 166 MM Barchettas were ever built, which made the discovery of one sat in the Arizonian desert all the more surprising. The Ferrari was shipped from Switzerland to America, where it was used regularly until an engine failure forced it off the road. It stood in the desert, covered in old rugs and pieces of plastics, until the rugs were removed for use elsewhere.

So there it remained, basking in the searing heat of the desert. When the Ferrari’s owner died, his children alerted the world to its whereabouts and it eventually ended up at auction in Arizona. It sold for $1.87 million. OK, so we admit no barns were involved with this discovery. But you don’t find a Ferrari in a desert every day.

Mercedes-Benz 600 ‘Six Door’ Pullman Landaulet

08_Best_Barn_Finds_Tim Scott ©2014 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

We could have included more valuable barn-finds. Heck, we could have featured more beautiful barn-finds. But there’s just something about this Mercedes-Benz 600 ‘Six Door’ Pullman Landaulet that makes it a fascinating discovery. The fact that it sold at auction for £450,000 means that we’re probably not alone in that assessment.

The 600 Pullman Landaulet was ordered almost exclusively by heads of state, dictators or the incredibly wealthy. Many would have had the car designed and built to their own exacting standards. So what’s the story behind this particular 5.5m-long saloon car? Who rode in the back of it? What stories could it tell? We’ll have to leave that to our imagination.

Porsche overload

09_Best_Barn_Finds_Anglia Car Auctions

This Porsche collection attracted a huge amount of attention in 2013. In fact, it was a bigger story than Kim Kardashian’s bottom. Allegedly. The collection was built up over a ten-year period and included a range of 911s, 912s and 356s.

Some were in a state of disrepair while others could have been described as rolling projects. We’d never seen anything quite like it before. The collection was broken up in lots by Anglia Car Auctions and sold over a 12-month period.

Dino 246 GTS

10_Best_Barn_Finds_Patrick Ernzen ©2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

The story of the buried Dino 246 GTS is one of our favourite things on the internet. If you haven’t read the story on Jalopnik, we suggest you wander over there today and have a look.

The 1974 246 GTS was quite literally buried in a Los Angeles garden before being unearthed in 1978 and subsequently restored. The 246 GTS shown here isn’t the actual car. It’s another 246 GTS that forms part of The Pinnacle Collection being auctioned in Monterey this summer.

Ferrari 250 GTO


And finally, a story that’s more ‘garden-find’ than ‘barn-find’, but is no less compelling. According to the website, The RetroMobilist, the Ferrari 250 GTO had sat on a front lawn for 15 years and few people gave it a second thought. Indeed, locals and Ferrari enthusiasts the world over knew of its whereabouts. The car was originally sold and raced in the UK, before arriving in Texas and – wait for it – being donated to a Texas school.

It was then sold at auction to a chap who put it on the back of a trailer and left it in his front garden, totally exposed to the elements. Eventually, the owner was encouraged to sell it and it now belongs to a Swiss collector. Want to know how much this garden ornament was worth? Well a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold at auction last year for £25 million. Time to check that barn?