My First Scooter
by Dave Tooley
I’d been on at my Father for ages from the age of 14
to help me acquire some sort of 2 wheeled motorised transport
to renovate for when I was 16, and it just so happened that the
first bike he tracked down turned out to be a Scooter. If he
had located for me a Motor Cycle instead, my life may well have
evolved completely differently.
The bike he
found was quite literally in kit form. He
spotted a local advertisement for a Lambretta Ld 125cc
dating back to the 50’s that had been stripped down, and the
owner had then just lost interest in rebuilding it. I got it
for a song, just a few pounds I believe.(a weeks paper round
All I had to
do was get it all home. I think I collected
most of the parts in a wheelbarrow.
It was in a
terrible state, everything needed doing to it.
Just the sort of project that would keep me out of mischief
for a year, and a damned good way of learning engineering at
grass roots level.
My Dad made
me strip that bike down to the last nut and
bolt. Then between us we painstakingly and
meticulously rebuilt it, either renovating or replacing
corroded parts as
required. Everything was hand
painted, my Father did a coach building apprenticeship
amongst others after the war, and he was a stickler for a
primer, 2 undercoats and a finishing
coat. Rubbing down between each
layer. It is no exaggeration to say
that it took a whole year to rebuild that
bike. But when it was finished she
was like a show machine, absolutely gleaming in Polar White
and Post Box Red. My Father modified
a chromed Burgess silencer with some flexible industrial
exhaust pipe to fit on the machine, and it looked brilliant.
We had even Stage 1 tuned the engine, and it went really
well for a 125cc machine.
says, I wish to God I had kept that machine, would be worth
a mint now. I don’t even have a photographic
reminder of her, after my whole fifteenth years work.
presented with an award at the end of 1969 for the best
vintage bike in the club, a plaque I proudly displayed and
still have now. It was even reported in the
Portsmouth Evening News, and I still have a copy of the
wait to get out on the open road and show off my rebuilt
Lambretta, so I joined the Solent City Scooter Club shortly
after my 16th birthday.
I’d only been
a member of the club for a few weeks when Marten Holdway
showed up on his pristine Wildcat Dykes Lambretta Gp
225cc. As I remember it, he caused quite a stir
by turning up at the Connaught Hall in Gosport with his mate
who was riding a motorbike. A single cylinder Ducati
250cc, I believe it was. Although Marten would probably
remember better than I.
for the agitation was in the late 60’s there was quite a bit
of ‘aggro’ going on with the Mods (on Scooters)and Rockers
(on Motorcycles) and you were obliged to either belong to
one camp or the other. Though I always thought it was a
silly idea, since I loved motorcycles as well, and
frequently attended International Racing
events. Even being the chair monkey on a racing
Norton Commando 750cc sidecar outfit myself at National
events years later.
(or Greasers, as they were affectionately called) used to
hang out at the ‘Waite ‘a’ While’ café along Forton road,
and God forbid any Scooterist who went past there and looked
at them in a ‘funny’ way.
an atmosphere of fear and reprisal whenever a motorcyclist
came within our midst. A bit pathetic really
looking back on it, but that’s how things were in that
What made the
whole thing even more ridiculous was the proprietor of the
Café in question, Mr Waite, lived next door to my parents
house and was blissfully unaware of the animosity felt
towards his establishment by anyone other than the