On this day in auto history - October 15th

Thu 15th Oct 2020

It was on this day in 1985 that Sinclair Vehicles - the company formed by Sir Clive Sinclair to produce the infamous Sinclair C5 - went into receivership.

The recently-knighted entrepreneur and inventor - a household name in the 1980’s following his success with the ZX Spectrum home computer - had unveiled the C5 just nine months earlier in a blaze of publicity but demand for the electrically-assisted pedal vehicle fell disastrously short of expectations.

Produced at the Hoover factory in South Wales, the C5 looked unlike anything else on the road with its low driving position and unconventional handlebars which were positioned under the rider’s legs. Very quickly safety proved a real concern and, within just three months of its launch, production had been slashed by 90%.

In a last gasp attempt to promote the doomed vehicle, Sinclair reportedly paid teams of teenagers to drive around major cities in C5’s but it had little impact. When the company finally went into receivership, just 5,000 C5’s had been sold by Sinclair out of 14,000 produced into total.

Despite everything, the C5 would gain an unexpected degree of 'cult status’ in later years as collectors began purchasing them as investment items, reselling them on auction websites for as much as £5,000 - more than 10 times their original retail price.