This was first seen in the September 9th edition of the Guardian newspaper.
A normally interesting article by Jim White on the Sinclair asthmatic
tricycle, or to give its official name, the Sinclair C5, suddenly got a lot
more interesting near to the end! Well why? Well read on! - CiH, 12.9.02
Driving through town the other day, I saw something I hadn't seen for 15
years. It was a man struggling to traverse a road bridge while sitting in
what appeared to be a plastic bathtub with wheels attached. As he pedalled
gamely while bicycles overtook him, as joggers sped past, as an old man on a
zimmer frame kept pace, I was gripped with nostalgia. He was driving a
Sinclair C5, the vehicle that was supposed to revolutionise urban transport
in the 21st century.
When Clive Sinclair, a man who had made a fortune pioneering the personal
computer, announced that he was going to move into personal transportation
back in the mid-80's, it is hard to overstate how excited everyone became.
Cheap, efficient, clean, environmentally friendly: what a prospect this was,
we all thought. Until we saw the C5 in action. On the launch day in central
London, Sinclair despatched several squads of youths in C5's to drive around
town showing off the swanky new future. As a public relations stunt it was
up there with Uri Geller's attempt to reacquaint himself with the British
public's affection by going on live television and stroking Tara Palmer-
Tomkinson's rear in much the same way he used to fondle spoons.
The youths were universally mocked at every turn. So pilloried were they on
their day's ride, that when the heavens opened and the coverless vehicles
all ground to a halt, filled with unforgiving puddles, the riders simply
abandoned their mounts where they had died and headed for the comforting
anonymity of the tube. The musical satirist Richard Stilgoe finally mocked
the C5 into oblivion, when he announced that he had bought one, not to use,
but as an investment. He said he was going to keep it in its original box,
under the stairs, waiting for the time to sell it on as a fascinating folly
of the '80's.
However, the man I spotted clearly believed the vehicle, even now, had a
future. His name was Chris Crosskey, and he was warming up, he explained,
for an attempt to become the first man to drive from John O'Groats to Lands
End in a C5 (Ed-Note, from one end of the UK to the other.) Not perhaps the
world's most pursued ambition, but a worthy one nonetheless. And in the
month of the (environment) world summit, when a vehicle as clean as his
should have been lauded as the way forward, he set off.
Unfortunately, the way forward is not one a C5 knows, and Mr Crosskey was
forced to abandon his effort north of Edinburgh, after completing 350 of the
required 950 miles, Mechanical failure was the explanation. He'll be back
next year, he says, Presumably after he has negotiated a price with Richard
Yes, it is *that* Chris Crosskey, the man behind 'Abingdon Synthesis
Projects', and various Atari shows, particularly the Stafford AMS series,
the last of which saw me share stand space (and unloading the van) with him.
The amazing thing is, that when Guardian Journo Jim went to talk to him, he
got off scot-free on the Robot Wars anecdotes! I know we didn't!