The diddy, one-piece GRP body is almost as tall as its 1371mm length and barely a metre wide. Entry via the single door for my 1.9m frame is a mystery until I’m told to reverse park myself then contort each leg into position. Buckled up on what looks like a legless dining chair, I feel like I’m wearing the car more than occupying it. The oversized three-spoke steering wheel is set at around 45deg, yet feels almost horizontal.
Straight through it sits the speedo, which goes up to a fantastically unlikely 160mph.
Only a plectrum of carpet breaks up the expanse of primed GRP, and the switchgear is unsurprisingly rudimentary. There’s a spindly handbrake lever down to my left, tiny brake and accelerator pedals by my right foot and a chunky metal gear selector under my right leg, with choke, lights and starter button to the right-hand side. With so much glass, the view is excellent – apart from directly in front, where the wiper control juts down into my line of sight. A rear-view mirror would leave me staring back at myself, so there isn’t one, but the chromed exterior mirrors, poking up like antennae, give a good view behind. I slide down the seat to see the road ahead.
Pushing the starter button sends the P50 into a loud, quaking fit that passes through me at every contact point as the noise of the phutting single cylinder echoes around the cabin. I clunk the shifter into drive and pull away for an exploratory toddle. With the CVT whining and clamouring for revs, the cacophony reaches a peak and stays there as the P50 zips forward. The steering is super-sensitive and corners must be taken gently, lest we topple over.
The minuscule six-inch wheels – clad in Trelleborg ‘High Speed’ tyres – make every bump feel like a hill. Take a pothole on one side and the whole car cants over; foolishly try to nutmeg it instead and you’re quickly reminded of the rear wheel’s central position, so it’s best to steer around them. This is easy because, from the P50, a single-lane road feels wider than an empty autobahn.
Stability becomes an issue at 20mph, so that’s our de facto top speed. With photographer Will Williams leading, we venture onto a Shropshire A-road, where I suddenly feel like a sprat crossing a major shipping lane. The vibration, sound and concentration going on in here allude to a double tonne, not a tenth of that, and every passing vehicle casts a shadow like a solar eclipse. Williams takes an unexpected turning and I stamp on the brakes. Not much happens, so I stamp harder, and eventually the P50 pulls up. Crashing from 20mph in a straight line would certainly have formed a career lowlight.
We eventually reach Bridgnorth, where the P50 revels in its intended urban environment. No gap in traffic too tight, no bollards too close. If you can walk through a space, you can probably drive a P50 through it too. I can go as fast as everyone else along the busy streets and it’s truly an absolute joy to pootle about the town centre, beaming like a fool. People wave and small crowds gather when we stop. An intrigued butcher lends us a large steak and kidney pie with which to test the load space behind the seat (it fits).