Sinclair C5

Resurrecting a Sinclair C5

Sinclair C5Well the opportunity to acquire a Sinclair C5 came up. As soon as I heard ‘Sinclair C5’, I could picture it in my mind, that small white three-wheeler I remember seeing as a 12 year old when watching Tomorrows World.

Of course then I did not really understand the ridicule it got due to the design, safety issues and build quality for a road-going vehicle.

Thinking of a Sinclair C5 just made me smile and the opportunity to own one made me smile more.

When I got it, I was quite impressed with the condition and it was quite clean. It has spent many years in the back of a Land Rover in a barn.

Interestingly when discussing my project with a customer I found out that they used to make the body panel. At the time it was the largest single piece, injection moulded part made in the UK. It was made at Linpac (now Schoeller Allibert) in Winsford.

It was only on assessing the true condition of it the ‘to do’s’ started to mount. This is what I found.

  • All three tyres were original Sinclair tyres, these were flat and perished.
  • The battery and switch were faulty.
  • The control box wiring had been cut away.
  • The fuses had been replaced with thick gauge copper wire.
  • The motor leads and brushes had been pulled out.
  • The ‘motor go’ switch was cut off.
  • The chain was loose (I had forgotten it was actually a pedal bike with a motor assist!)

So quite happily, I began to strip the C5 down and start my project.

After a fair amount of research, I realised that an important part of the very basic instrument panel was a Ferranti integrated circuit, (ULA 5G014E-4). If this is blown then there are no spare parts, unless on eBay. The one in my C5 was faulty so another challenge was to come up with a bespoke instrument panel.

I have designed a unit to have three instruments, one showing battery power, one motor temperature and the last motor load. This is what the old instrument panel gave very crudely in two LED bar graphs.

So, as I write this I am waiting delivery on some parts for the instrument panel. The motor is being overhauled and all parts are having a good clean and service.

I hope to be able to share further pictures and have a project update in December.