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Sinclair C5

Surely you remember these? They were so iconic, and such a visible icon of reaching for the sun, and falling well short.

Sir Clive Sinclair (yes, Sir!) launched the Sinclair C5 on 10 January 1985. It was a vehicle that he insisted would soon be in every household. A new form of travel, that he predicted would one day replace cars that run on petrol! That was a stretch...

The vehicle is battery-assisted tricycle – like an electric bike these days – the driver pedals it around, but the pedalling is assisted by an electric motor. Though the driver need not pedal (if he’s feeling lazy). The C5 is steered by a handlebar beneath the driver's knees. Its top speed is 15 miles per hour which is the fastest allowed in the UK without a driving licence.

At the time it sold for £399 plus £29 for delivery. Though of course this was a lot more back then (When a pint was 50p)

I remember really wanting one, I thought they were really cool. But it seems that I was alone, as the C5 became a real object of ridicule during the 1980s. Perhaps it was the resounding confidence that Sir Clive Sinclair had in the vehicle, and how humbling it looked to climb aboard a C5 (Grown men did look kind of funny riding one)

I remember finding them funny, and it seems like most people did really. They were more something to laugh at than take seriously. A rich mans toy at best, rather than a form of transport to take seriously.

It turned out to be a financial disaster, and Sinclair sold only 17,000 C5’s, although he insists, "it currently remains the best selling electric vehicle of all time." Though the only real opposition until recently was the TWIKE – of European design.

C5 fact coming up - A (very heavily) modified C5 reached 150 miles per hour taking the speed record for an electric vehicle. Hilariously, the C5 also became the world's first electric stunt vehicle when it was driven through a 70ft tunnel of fire. I would NOT have liked to have been on board for that stunt! In fact any stunt featuring the C5 has got to be a feared thing!

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Do You Remember Sinclair C5?

Do You Remember Sinclair C5?

  • Anonymous user
    I don't remember them coming out but I wasn't born! I'm 16 and am a proud owner of 1 but I'm looking for another
  • Anonymous user
    Well I remember them, they made a huge impact back in '85 which was the year I left school. They were really ridiculed and made fun of, especially in the custom car mags and on 'Spitting Image'- Giles the cartoonist also depicted Grandma using one in several of his cartoons! I believe they were driven by a washing machine motor- they appeared first on 'Tomorrow's World' demonstrated by Judith Hann. Also featured was a Belgian equivalent that seemed a lot more practical- it was fully enclosed, safer, and could go 10mph faster than the C5, although for some reason this never caught on (probably because of the need for a driving licence to drive one). C5 production ended in late '87; there is now an Owner's Club, and an example is preserved in Cyfarthfa Castle Museum near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales because they were built at the town's industrial estate.