… I know this because I own one.

MotorPunk loves heroic failures, underdogs and cool offbeat stuff, particularly when it has wheels on. There’s always a subconscious ‘what if?’ with these things, a dream that with perhaps just a little extra XYZ the heroic failure could have been a heroic triumph. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Sinclair C5, celebrating it’s 30th birthday, fits into that category. But there’s nothing even remotely cool about Clive’s Five. I know this because I own one.

sinclair-c5

The internet will be falling over itself to celebrate Sir Clive’s 5th transport invention this week. There will be endless regurgitations of that picture of Senna sat in a C5, looking distinctly uncomfortable, and optimistic EBay sellers will have their C5 priced high hoping to cash in on the nostalgia. I paid £100 for mine some years ago. The kids did a few laps of the village on it and since then it has sat awaiting restoration. It’s horrible. I bought it because I loved my Sinclair ZX81, liked the fact that Lotus did the Y-shaped chassis (like a mini Esprit, compare ‘em!) and thought it would be fun. It is not fun. The crank is so short you have to pedal like the clappers to move and passers-by point and laugh, although, to be fair, that might be because I am unfit, often hungover and my wardrobe is often rather 1972.

30 years of the sinclair c5 (9) c5 key

The more I look at it, the less I like it – it isn’t heroic in any way at all. Sir Clive (he got knighted for his work with computers) was undoubtedly a great electronics Engineer but understood nothing of personal transport. Early buyers included Elton John, Paul Daniels and the Mayor of Scarborough. Can you think of three uncooler people? They built thousands at the Hoover factory in 1985 and almost instantly went bust. The C5’s failures are remarkably similar to those of many modern EV’s; They’re too expensive, too impractical and the range is too short but above all they’re as cool as a verruca sock. If you disagree, feel free to make me an offer on mine. Buyer to collect – my pedalling days are over.

Rich Duisberg

4 Responses

  1. Frank V

    So I take it that they are now out of Motorpunk’s Car Club 18-30? Were they ever in? They do get top marks for ‘Quirky’!

    Reply
    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      They in, I think, just, and also out in the same year as they went pop after 8 months! Yes, they’re quirky, that’s true! Not the hottest thing we’ve driven though…

      Reply
    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      Better batteries, longer crank and decent brakes would help! Own one? Ours needs an ECU repair and I’m tired of pedaling!

      Reply

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