The Sinclair C5: an old-time E-bike now travels northern Ontario roads

A Sudbury man believes he owns the only Sinclair C5 vehicle in Canada.

I put the bid in on ebay, then went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and thought, 'oh God, what did I do?'

Sudbury man drives 30-year-old electric vehicle


6 years ago
Andrew Grantham owns and drives a 30-year-old Sinclair C5 0:42

There is a new vehicle that has been causing a lot of attention in a Greater Sudbury, Ont. neighbourhood.

The vehicle is a curiosity: is it a car, a bike, or a space pod?

The Sinclair C5 may be hard to describe for a good reason: there aren't many of them around. And its owner Andrew Grantham said he thinks he's the only Canadian who owns one.

The 30-year-old vehicle was invented by English entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair. It was reportedly a flop with consumers when it was manufactured. Only 20,000 were sold.

But that didn't stop Grantham from making a bid on one.

"I put the bid in on ebay, then went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and thought, oh God, what did I do? Because now I have to get this thing here."

When the Sinclair C5 was first produced in 1985, it cost about $800. A C5 in reportedly good condition sells on ebay for about $1,000. Grantham paid slightly less than $1,400.

Andrew Grantham of Sudbury owns and drives an electric vehicle called a Sinclair C5. 6:47

It cost more to send it by boat that it cost to buy it, said Grantham. But when it arrived a month later, he was happy to discover it fit perfectly into the back of his Santa Fe.

After a bit of work remodeling the battery and redoing some wiring, he is now able to take it out on the road. 

"The first time I took it for a spin I forgot to take the parking break off, so it was actually quite slow," he said.

"But the second time it was great. I got up to what is considered the maximum speed that the motor will allow you, which is about 24 kilometres an hour."

Not only does it work, but it is causing quite a reaction when he takes it out for a spin.

"Groups of teenagers cheering and screaming from the side of the road. Having to stop for pretty much everybody who wants to know what this thing is," Grantham said.

Everyone wants to try driving it, of course.
Andrew Grantham is the proud new owner of a 30 year old electric vehicle called the Sinclair C5. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Because it was originally designed as a motor assisted cycle rather than a car, the vehicle conforms to every regulation for an E-bike, Grantham said.

"I do worry that I will be pulled over because it doesn't look like a bicycle. It looks like a go cart."

The original advertisement for the Sinclair C5


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