We’ve all seen some strange cars pootling along country lanes on a Sunday afternoon.
Often, they have been built or modified by determined hobbyists, who have taken existing vehicles and modified them to become funkier, more creative, and sometimes downright weirder.
However, there are some strange and perfectly legal to drive vehicles that were not just created by a Great British eccentric in his garden shed, but were in fact mass-produced for specific purposes.
It’s easy to see why some of these vehicles were created, but for others, the reasons are a total mystery. Let’s take a look at five perfectly road-legal vehicles that you may see on UK roads – for better or worse.
Immortalised in an episode of Top Gear, the Peel P50 originally hails from the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. As the name suggests, 50 Peel P50s were produced in the original manufacturing run between 1962 and 1965 – 27 of which are thought to still exist today.
Initially retailing at a price point of £199, in 2016 a Peel P50 was sold at a Sotheby’s auction house for $176,000.
The original Peel Engineering Company closed in 1974, but the rights to their vehicles were purchased and a new company, Peel Engineering Limited, was launched in 2010. Following a successful pitch on the popular tv show Dragon’s Den, Peel Engineering now produces dozens of Peel P50s annually on a made-to-order basis, for customers including the Crown Prince of Dubai.
A British institution, the Reliant Robin will be forever known as the vehicle of choice for Trotter’s Independent Traders.
This three-wheeled wonder was manufactured on and off between 1973 and 2002, offering a cheap and fuel-efficient transportation option. Due to the vehicle only having three wheels, it could be driven by people who had passed a category A motorcycle driving test, while it was also taxed at motorcycle rates, offering further savings.
Between 2001 and 2012 this status was revoked, but from January 2013 owners of a Reliant Robin can once again legally drive the vehicle while having only a full motorcycle license, and can make tax savings by registering the vehicle as a tricycle.
An ambulette is a van-like vehicle that functions as a smaller form of ambulance and is used to transport people who are in a non-emergency condition to hospital.
Sometimes looking more like a minibus or people carrier than a medical marvel, ambulettes are highly useful in busy, built-up areas like cities where traffic congestion can be significant and smaller vehicles have an advantage in navigating the traffic flow.
More commonly seen in the US, where companies like nycambuletteservice.com transport patients through busy cities such as New York, ambulettes are nonetheless totally road legal in the UK, and are sometimes used in transporting patients with special needs from place to place.
Usually seen trundling across pristine greenery while filled with badly dressed, middle-class country club members, some golf buggies have been manufactured to be entirely road legal.
Offering owners the chance to drive to their favourite ‘good walk spoiled’ course and then take their vehicles straight onto the grass, road-legal golf buggies have also grown in popularity over recent years due to their status as electric vehicles, which offers tax advantages and savings on fuel costs.
You might not want to see these metal monoliths bearing down on you while popping to the shops, but if you do, it’s entirely possible that the owner is acting within the law.
If you have a category H driving licence, rubber tracks on the tank instead of metal ones (to protect the roads), and a deactivated gun turret, you’re well on your way to making your tank road legal. And as an additional bonus, due to their age, most tanks are exempt from MOT tests and road taxes!
However, if you’re tempted to show the world who’s boss by tearing down the roads in one of these titans, bear in mind that there is a lot of work involved in modifying your tank so it meets all the legal requirements to safely travel on public roads, meaning you would be best served by purchasing an existing road-legal tank that has already been professionally altered.