Centre Unveils Next Generation C5

Just over 30 years after the original Sinclair C5 vehicle was developed here in Cambridge by Sir Clive Sinclair, the Centre for Computing History launches the C5 Futura.

CEO, Jason Fitzpatrick explains: “The Futura is a 21st century interpretation of the Sinclair C5. Despite its many faults, the C5 had great charm. No one ever forgot the little car that showed the world just what the future could look like!”

The original C5's steel chassis and polypropylene body were developed by Lotus, the car manufacturer behind the Élan and Esprit. The CCH Futura retains this appearance but the framework has been upgraded to graphene which is both stronger and lighter. The new model uses Segway technology to improve stability and features a built in air bag; in an incident this will suck air from the tyres to aid inflation. Battery performance has also been enhanced. Where the original managed just 20 miles between charges - so anything further than 10 miles in one direction meant pushing it back home - the Futura boasts hydrogen fuel cells to maximise its range up to 200 miles.

Fitzpatrick continues: “Sir Clive was way, way ahead of his time with the C5! Our tech team has been working closely over the past year with several local tech companies to bring the original spec up to modern standards.

“Custom electronics, liable to fail in the original model, have been replaced with a Raspberry Pi which allows users to develop their own C5 driving software; this should appeal to the hacker community! And, as it’s all about wearable tech today, the ubiquitous 'windcheater' poncho now sports Internet of Things capability for online tracking.

“With just one button and handlebars used to control it, there was never really any need for a lengthy training course and there still isn’t. To keep up with modern tech, we’ve added an extra button - as yet undefined.”

The Futura will be manufactured at the ex-Lotus garage off Coldhams Road, close to the Centre for Computing History.

Fitzpatrick concludes: “Sinclair expected to sell 100,000 of the £399 Sinclair C5 in 1985 but only 9,000 units were actually made before the collapse of the company. We're hoping to sell the other 91,000 units. As to cost, we're following the Raspberry Pi model of selling more and more powerful computers for the original price. So, despite its considerable tech capabilities, the Futura will cost just £399. We want to give Elon Musk a run for his money!

“As well as possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, we're all about trying to make the world a better place. The Futura has a minimal carbon footprint, and with its neat size – just under two metres – and top speed of 15mph (although this can be variable as witnessed when testing it!), the vehicle is a safer, cleaner option, best suited to an urban environment. This could be the answer to congestion on Cambridge roads.”

The C5 Futura has been designed to generate funds to help finance a new purpose built home for the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. All profit from sales will go towards this fund.


Date: 1st April 2016

Image: CCH staff test drive Futura

Note to Editors

Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair (born 30 July 1940) is an inventor, most commonly known for his work in consumer electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He founded Sinclair Radionics in 1961, where he produced the first slim-line electronic pocket calculator in 1972 (the Sinclair Executive). Sinclair later moved into the production of home computers and produced the Sinclair ZX80, the UK's first mass-market home computer for less than £100, and later, with Sinclair Research, the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum.

Knighted in 1983, Sinclair formed Sinclair Vehicles and released the Sinclair C5, a battery electric vehicle that was a commercial failure. Since then Sinclair has concentrated on personal transport, including the A-bike.

Centre for Computing History
The Centre for Computing History is an inspirational educational charity (est. 2006) and museum with a collection in excess 24,000 items.

Since opening in Cambridge in late 2013, over 20,000 visitors, including 10,000 children, have visited the museum, benefited from our workshops, interactive exhibits and informative tours. Through a creative educational programme, the Centre provides the opportunity for children of all ages to enjoy a diversity of computing experiences.

CCH is currently developing two new Cambridge-related archives: a Sinclair collection and an Acorn collection.

The Centre is open from Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm.

For further information or images, please contact:

Elaine Symonds

Tel: 01223 214446

Email: Elaine@computinghistory.org.uk


Date : 01-04-2016

Help support the museum by buying from the museum shop

View all items

Founding Sponsors
redgate Google ARM Real VNC Microsoft Research
Heritage Lottery Funded
Heritage Lottery Fund
Accredited Museum