Deadly cars

Cars can be very dangerous machines!

Peel trident

Peel trident Image

The Peel Trident, which was offered to an incredulous public in 1966, is another of those ill-conceived vehicles that the manufacturer really should have thought twice about.

It was advertised as 'almost as cheap as walking' and that was really it's only good point. The manufacturers claim that it would seat two people occasionally; since the single seat was just 31 inches long it would have been cosy at best, but more likely highly cramped. The bodywork was made out of glass fibre; the protection it offered to the occupant, or crushed up occupants, was minimal.

The vehicle is possibly the tiniest car which has ever been made, which suggests that it certainly wasn't built with safety as a priority. The engine, a massive 50 cc DKW two stroke, produced 4.2 brake horsepower, as well as noxious fumes from the oil that had to be mixed with the petrol. Top speed was just 28 mph, which considering the fragility of this conveyance was far too fast.

The list of safety features was very short. The fact is it didn't have any. There was no seatbelt but then it would have been a waste of time to fit one anyway because there was nothing solid to fit it to. Airbags? No, not enough room. A padded interior? This car was already far too tiny for most average sized people without reducing the available space in the cockpit even further. side impact protection? In a collision with anything more solid than a feather pillow the Trident would have come off second best.

No one ever seems to have got round to testing the steering and roadholding but such a lightweight car as this must've given a very interesting ride over a bumpy surface , or when the wind blew.

Perhaps the most ludicrous design feature, however, was the glass dome on top of it. It certainly gave good visibility if the occupants wanted to look at the sky but it would also ensure that on a hot sunny day the interior would turn into a Turkish bath. Was it fitted with air conditioning? What do you think?

The risk of being fried by the sun faded into irrelevance however compared to the danger of being decapitated by flying glass if the contraption was involved in an accident or, heaven forbid, turned over. Time Magazine listed it as one of the 50 worst cars ever made which is surprising since some would call it the worst ever full stop. It is little surprise that as few as 45 of these amazing flying saucer impersonators were ever sold, and the Peel engineering company was quietly dissolved in 1974.

Next - the Audi 500

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