Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 12:38 UK

Electric trike C5 hits road again

Sinclair C5 at its 1985 launch
The Sinclair C5 was subjected to ridicule after its launch in 1985

It may have attracted derision in its 1980s heyday, but the Sinclair C5 is having another day in the sun.

The electric tricycles staged a mass drive from the Hoover factory in Merthyr Tydfil, where it was made, to Blackwood, some 15 miles away.

The run marked a vintage car festival and the factory's 60th anniversary.

Sir Clive Sinclair's C5, which had short-lived hopes of rivalling the car, has a 15mph top speed, which means a driver's licence is not needed.

It is powered by both pedals and an electric battery which takes around eight hours to charge, and steered with bicycle-style handlebars under the driver's knees on either side of the driving seat.

When it hit the market in 1985 the C5 cost 399 plus delivery, but quickly became an object of popular ridicule and only sold about 17,000 during its 10 months in production.

The company making it went into liquidation in November 1985.

Sinclair C5
Whenever we drive our C5s around we are always getting stopped by people who remember them and want to ask questions
Karl Whittle, C5Alive

Many C5s remained unsold and some appear on the market today untouched and in their original cartons. Second hand versions appear regularly for sale on eBay.

C5 enthusiast Karl Whittle from Sussex-based C5 specialists C5Alive said he loved them because they were fun to drive, cheerful and rather eccentric.

"I think with the improvements in battery technology they would sell better these days," said Mr Whittle, who is bringing a number of the vehicles to the gathering to sell and offer test drives.

"It's a crying shame really. With the explosion of cycle lanes making it safer for cyclists on the roads I'm sure the C5 would have done better. It's also very green and you only need to be 14 to drive one.

"You also don't have to worry about an MoT or rising petrol prices.

"Whenever we drive our C5s around we are always getting stopped by people who remember them and want to ask questions. It's turned into a social thing."

The Heartlands C5 Gathering event has been organised as part of the Welsh Heartlands Vintage AutoFest, which runs throughout the weekend and is based mainly in Pontllanfraith, Caerphilly county.

Organisers have invited a representative from the Guinness Book of Records to record the numbers of C5s at the event.

Sinclair C5 fan aims to cross UK
12 Jan 05 |  Oxfordshire
C5 owners converge on town
22 Aug 04 |  Wales

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