Wivelsfield man drives world’s smallest car, the Peel P50, across Britain for Children in Need

A vintage vehicle enthusiast from Wivelsfield is preparing to travel the entire length of the UK in the world’s smallest car.

Alex Orchin, of Allwood Crescent, will drive his diminutive Peel P50 from John o’ Groats to Lands’ End with the goal of raising £2,000 for BBC Children in Need.

Alex, 31, believes he is the first Peel P50 driver to take on this challenge and aims to start on Saturday (November 13).

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“The car itself doesn’t go much above 35mph because it’s so tiny,” said Alex, adding that his trip will be spread out over two weeks.

Alex Orchin from Wivelsfield is driving the world's smallest car, the Peel P50, from John o' Groats to Lands' End. Picture: Alex Orchin.

“I want to stop, I want to busk and I want to talk to people,” he said. “It’s not like bashing the journey out in one go.”

Alex, who plays a variety of musical instruments, will perform on his Highland bagpipes in the cities, towns and villages that he visits.

He will have his P50 next to him, as well as a large poster that explains his fundraising mission, so he can make extra charity money on the way.

Alex said he purchased the little car about five years ago from a fellow enthusiast who built it from a kit.

Alex Orchin from Wivelsfield is driving the world's smallest car, the Peel P50, from John o' Groats to Lands' End. Picture: Alex Orchin.

“I enjoy driving it so much and it makes people of all ages really happy,” said Alex.

“When they see it they laugh, they point, they take pictures, they ask questions, they absolutely adore it,” he said.

These reactions encouraged Alex to drive his Peel P50 further afield to meet more people.

He said he picked Children in Need because he has previously worked with children, including helping run a youth club and Scouts, as well as giving lectures on wildlife.

Alex Orchin from Wivelsfield is driving the world's smallest car, the Peel P50, from John o' Groats to Lands' End. Picture: Alex Orchin.

Alex has always had a passion for classic or unusual vehicles and has worked with them for about ten years.

He has been a gardener using vintage machinery and he also lives part time in a 1955 Renault Goélette, which he converted into a camper.

His YouTube channel Forward to the Past (the opposite of Back to the Future) has plenty of videos about his ‘vintage van life’.

He also used to have a Ford Model T4 from 1914 and currently works with P50 Cars, based in Erith, which provides kits to replicate the classic microcar.

Alex became fascinated with the Peel P50 after an episode of Top Gear in which Jeremy Clarkson drove the odd vehicle around the BBC offices.

“They were originally made back in the early ’60s and they only made around 65 of them,” said Alex, adding that fewer than 30 originals still survive.

But the Top Gear appearance made the car so famous again that other companies started to build them, he said.

After seeing the P50 at Beaulieu motor museum Alex decided he wanted one of his own.

But he said the car is not the most comfortable and that the biggest challenge of his charity trip will be his ‘physical capabilities’.

“I’ve got all faith in the car mechanically,” he said.

“But when you’re driving your knees are either side of the steering wheel, you’re basically sitting on the floor, and you’re operating the pedals with your ankles rather than with your legs.”

“To date, the longest I’ve ever driven that in one go is about an hour and a half and I felt a bit stiff,” Alex said.

“So it really depends how many hours per day I can physically manage.”

Alex’s GoFundMe page has already raised more than £700.

To make a donation visit www.gofundme.com.