VIDEO: Little cars are big business for Sutton firm

A Sutton manufacturing company is on the road to success after securing a contract to produce the world’s smallest car.
Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.
Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.

The prestigious business deal means that Grasshopper Golf Buggies, based on Mason Street, has taken on new staff in order to produce the Peel 50 and Trident models, as well as ensuring the company has financial security through the winter period.

The original Peel 50 was made famous a few years ago by Jeremy Clarkson on the popular TV show Top Gear, in which he drove the dinky motor around London and into the offices at BBC Television Centre - even taking it into the lift!

Now, Peel Engineering has awarded Grasshopper a contract worth over £200,000 to make 45 vehicles - with around 60 per cent of the order for the one-seater Peel 50s and the other 40 per cent for the two-seater Peel Tridents.

Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.
Staff at Grass Hopper Buggies.

Said managing director Robert Moor: “It gives us security and we have employed two more staff and an apprentice.

“It gives our staff more job security and in this financial climate it gives us confidence.”

Grasshopper Golf Buggies first manufactured the Peel 50 and Trident models around four years ago, with the cars being sold to attractions such as the well-known ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!’ museums.

These vehicles were electric powered and had top speeds of just eight miles per hour, but as the profile of the cars increased, there was demand for them to run on petrol, be road legal and reach speeds of around 30 mph.

At the time this was not part of Grasshoppers’ manufacturing portfolio - with its main business being that of producing single seater golf buggies - so Peel Engineering looked for another partner.

When its search was unsuccessful, Peel came back to Grasshopper and the Sutton team spent two months developing the car with specialist help in order to fulfil the new requirements.

The contract was then awarded and the company now has an ongoing order with Peel.

Robert said that such a high profile order is good for business and good for Sutton, with other local manufacturers also benefiting from the contract.

“The golf buggy trade dies down through the winter so this is a big boost for us,” he said.

“Everybody you talk to saw Jeremy Clarkson drive that car, so it’s good publicity for Sutton too.”

The chassis of the vehicles are made of fibre-glass and a number of improvements to the models have been made during the manufacture process, including making them more stable and adding a reverse gear.

From scratch, each car takes about 10 days to make and they will be sold around the world, with orders already taken from Mexico, Thailand, Japan, USA and Dubai.

Robert said that as well as going to museums, the cars are likely to be ‘toys for wealthy people’.

He added: “We are very proud because to manufacture a petrol car that has gone through VOSA (the Vehicle and operator Services Agency) - that is a big achievement for us.”