In 2015 I bought a Sinclair C5 from eBay. After a few rides, it was obvious the machine needed a bit of work. It sat in the garage for a couple of years before I had enough time to start the project to lick it into shape by way of a complete strip down and restoration.
I decided to film the project and set up a website and Twitter feed to record the progress.
Part 1: Vehicle check over
The first video to set the scene was published in April 2018. In this video we look at how to go about buying a C5, check over the vehicle’s exterior and take it out for a test ride:
Part 2: Vehicle Strip Down
In part two, I undertake a complete disassembly of the C5 in order to fully assess the condition of the chassis and inspect the parts:
Part 3: Rebuild
In this video I put the C5 back together again and various parts are replaced. I fit new brake cables, front brake blocks, tyres and inner tubes and replace the damaged wheel bearing and missing control box lid. The C5 gets an all over scrub and polish and new decals.
Part 4: Electrics
In the final part in this series, I take a detailed look at the C5’s electrical system. I take you on a tour of the vehicle electrics, service the motor and fit a safety wiring loom.
I then take the C5 out for a test ride, with some fancy arial camera shots.
Faults – Overview
As I went along I discovered a number of issues:
- Wonky rear right-hand wheel (close and damaged bearing)
- Front brakes – worn brake blocks
- Rear brake – not working. The brake lever sticks in the ‘on’ position, but brake doesn’t operate
- Cracked tyres – the original Sinclair branded tyres appear to be perishing
- Inner tubes – losing air
- minor rust on chassis and front forks
- Squeaky rear wheel. Initially thought to be caused by the damaged wheel bearing, it appears there is a secondary issue. It is thought that driving the C5 with a loose wheel has caused damage to the wheel.
- Intermittent motor activation – sometimes the motor cuts out. This is solved by waggling the cable at the rear of the ‘pod’
- Battery – a car battery has been fitted in place of the original Sinclair battery. This is working but needs a spanner to disconnect / reconnect the battery. Not ideal
- Battery connections poor. The original Sinclair C5 terminals have been replaced with ordinary car battery terminals. These need bolting on every time the battery is connected. This also means an important safety feature (the emergency power switch) has been by-passed.
- Dirty body shell with some scratches
- Yellow reflective ‘decals’ are pealing off or damaged
None of these are major issues and it’s fair to say that this is not the most challenging C5 restoration ever undertaken. All the parts are present (these can be expensive to obtain) and it looks to have had light use and been stored under cover throughout its life. However, it is enough of a challenge for a novice C5 owner such as myself, and for someone more used to troubleshooting electrical issues rather than mechanical problems.
I had a visit from Youtubers Neil (Retro Man Cave) and Ryan (EV Opinion) who were keen to come and take a look at the (nearly finished) C5 in November 2018. Neil has a channel dedicated to retro computers and games. Ryan has a channel with videos about EV’s (electric vehicles). For full details see here.