Wierd, freaky, wacky, and downright crazy cars of the past
Back in 1985 rumours were swirling about an electric car that Sir Clive Sinclair was about to bring out! As the inventor of the ZX Spectrum, which was the best selling personal computer in Britain, the man was obviously a genius and so his car was going to be something spectacular.
When it actually arrived it was met with amazement; incredulity; and then hilarity. It was so obvious a flop that my son, aged 8, announced as soon as he saw it on the TV; 'that will never sell daddy!"
The C5, as it was called, was a plastic tricycle just under six feet long and almost 30 inches wide, with no roof and no door. It was approximately 30 inches high, as well, which meant that it would very often be invisible to drivers of nearby vehicles; to get around this problem an optional flagpole could be bought to put on the back of it! The driver sat on it without any protection from the weather, other vehicles, or exhaust fumes.
The engine was made by a manufacturer of washing machines and it was fuelled by a 12 volt electric battery; this gave a maximum range of 20 miles provided that there were no hills or headwind, the lights were not turned on, the weather wasn't too cold or wet and the battery was fully charged. The maximum speed was 15 mph which meant that it got in the way of bicycles and invalid carriages, let alone cars, trucks and buses.
Stability was suspect to say the least; during a well-publicised test drive one of them came close to tipping over whilst trying to get round a small roundabout.
14,000 of these contraptions were manufactured during the seven months between launch and abandonment but only 5000 of them were sold before Sinclair Vehicles went bust; what the buyers did with them is anyone's guess but I doubt if anyone has ever seen one actually on a public highway.
Like many stupendously heroic failures however the C5 has now got a cult following with owners adding such esoterics as dragster type wheels, high-powered electric motors and even jet engines, and some modified C5s have been rumoured to have been driven at over 150 mph. There are some very brave drivers out there.