This Sinclair C5 has remained in its original factory box for 37 years and counting. It was discovered when the Hoover factory was being cleared out in the 1980s and it’s remained in storage ever since – with two keys, a battery charger, a fixing kit, and a tool kit all in the original box.
The Sinclair C5 is one of the most famous failures in modern history, it was designed as an electric personal transportation solution for urban use but sales figures were dismal and within a few months of its 1985 release production had ceased entirely.
Fast Facts – The Sinclair C5
- Sinclair Vehicles Ltd was founded by Sir Clive Sinclair in 1983 specifically to design and build electric vehicles. The managing director was Barrie Wills, formerly of the DeLorean Motor Company.
- Sir Clive Sinclair is a famous computing pioneer in the UK who had amassed a fortune developing and selling pocket calculators which were followed by home computers in the 1970s and 1980s.
- The Sinclair C5 was to be his next big thing, an unusual battery-assisted electric recumbent tricycle with seating for one, and some trunk space in the rear.
- With a range of 20 miles (32 kms) a curb weight of 45 kgs (99 lbs) and a top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h), many considered the C5 too limited for regular daily use.
Sinclair C5 – An Idea Before Its Time
The Sinclair C5 is today a notable historic lead ballon, it was hyped up nationwide before its release in January 1985 and it had the mighty weight of the Sinclair name behind it. After release the sales were dismal, from originally projected sales figures of 200,000 – 500,000 units per year just 5,000 were made before Sinclair Vehicles went bankrupt.
The unusual looking Sinclair C5 was essentially a recumbent electric tricycle with a body on top. The handlebars were situated under the rider’s knees with the pedals out in front, the rider had a comfortable seat and backrest, and in the rear there was a small cargo area for things like briefcases or groceries.
There were a few significant drawbacks to the design of the C5, firstly its range was limited by the lead acid battery technology of the day to 20 miles (32 kms), and the top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) was significantly slower than the rest of the traffic on British roads.
Perhaps the largest drawback was the lack of any weather protection, a significant issue in Britain where it typically rains 148 days each year, or once every 2.4 days on average.
Skipping forward through history a few decades to the modern age and unusual electric vehicles are all the rage, particularly things like electric bicycles and electric scooters. Many have wondered if the Sinclair C5 simply arrived three decades too soon.
A few years ago in 2017 Sir Clive Sinclair’s nephew Grand Sinclair unveiled his own design for a new Sinclair C5 called the Iris eTrike, this time with modern lithium-ion batteries, a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) and full weather protection.
The Still-Boxed Sinclair C5 Shown Here
The Sinclair C5 you see here, or rather don’t actually see, remains in its original box and has done since it was manufactured by Hoover in Britain for Sinclair over 37 years ago.
As mentioned above it comes with two keys, a battery charger, a fixing kit, and a tool kit all in the original box.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Silverstone Auctions on the 13th of November with a price guide of £2,000 – £3,000 or approximately $2,240 – $3,360 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Above Video: In this 1985 episode of the BBC TV series “Top Gear” presenter William Woollard reviews the “electrically assisted pedal tricycle” – the Sinclair C5.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions, Sinclair Vehicles, and Hoover
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