We tend to think of electric vehicles as a recent innovation, however many successful products are not the first ones to appear on the market. We have a habit of forgetting the progenitors such as mechanical scanned TVs or the $10,000 Honeywell kitchen computer. A case in point is [Clive Sinclair]’s C5 electric vehicle from 1985. If you’ve heard of it at all, you probably recall it was considered a stellar disaster when it was released. But it is a part of electric vehicle history and you can see [RetroManCave] talk to [Dave] about how he restored and operates a C5 of his own in the video below. If you want to dig into the actual restoration, [Dave] has three videos about the teardown and rebuild on his channel.
Sinclair saw this as the first shot across the bow with a series of electric vehicles, but it was doomed from the start. It isn’t a car. In fact, it is more like a bicycle with a battery. It seats one occupant who is exposed to the elements. It had a very tiny trunk. It can go — optimistically — 15 miles per hour and runs out of juice after about 20 miles — if you helped out by pedaling. If you weren’t up for the exercise, you’d get less out of the lead-acid battery.
At 15 miles per hour, you could hardly even claim it is a motorcycle in any practical sense. The plastic body made it lightweight which was a safety concern for some. However, it did make it easier to go in reverse. Because there was no reverse gear, the procedure was to get out of the C5, grab it by the nose, lift, and turn it around.