When Marnitz and I first envisaged this blog, our goal was to show off South African custom built old school styled cafe racers, bobbers and choppers to the world. We seem to be achieving our goal and are very happy with our growth over the last six months. What we did not anticipate was the interest that would be shown in retro scooters. Our first Lambretta Li150 feature in May was well supported, as have the other scooter features we have posted. The scooter owners are a wonderful group of fanatics who are very knowledgeable about all the older scooters and their colourful history. We are pleased to bring you the occasional scooter feature and hope that seeing their images and reading about them will unleash a desire in some of you motorcyclists to rush out and buy or build an old scooter for yourselves.
Our featured 1969 Lambretta 200DL is owned by Patrick from Northcliff. The scooter bug bit him in 1978 and sank its teeth in properly. Thirty five years later and he owns nine scooters. His first scooter followed the Mod trend as depicted in the Who’s movie Quadrophenia, with all the extra mirrors and lights. A good example of such a Mod scooter is Gerard’s previously featured Vespa. Patrick moved away from the dressed up Mod to the dressed down modified performance scooter. He prefers modifying his scooters by making them lighter and faster. Lambrettas, which have an internal frame onto which the body panels are mounted, are more suitable for stripping down to shed weight than the Vespas, where the body panels are the frame. One of his Lambrettas, which we hope to feature in the future, has all its body panels made from carbon fiber. Serious stuff!
This 200DL is one of Patrick’s less modified scooters. The DL model was known in England as the far more exciting sounding GP model. This was an attempt to associate these scooters with the extremely popular Formula One racing in the late 1960s. The designer Nuccio Bertone, famous for designing some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic cars, was contracted to design the all new DL/ GP series of 125cc, 175cc and 200cc scooters. Only 9350 examples of the 200DL were built between January 1969 and April 1971. A quoted 11.74 hp single cylinder two stroke motor propelled this 123kg scooter to an ambitious sounding top speed of 120km/h. After April 1971, the Indian government purchased all the tooling and began production under the SIL name.
This yellow ochre colour was the standard 200DL colour. The 200DL is also identifiable from the smaller versions by its floating disc brake on the front wheel. Recently the original big-end bearing seized and disintegrated. Needles were found embedded in the piston and head, a real mess. Patrick is now installing a new barrel and performance parts which will increase the capacity to 240 cc and provide almost 100% more hp, making the 120km/h top speed more attainable.
Patrick’s love of performance looks is obvious in his choice of seat. Giuliari of Italy built some of the most beautiful cafe racer seats of the 1960s and 1970s. Their Honda CB750 seat is iconic, as is this cafe racer style seat for Lambrettas. These seats are very sought after. The striking images of this Lambretta were taken by Ryno Fourie and we appreciate being allowed to use them.
We must admit that we never considered ourselves being classic scooter owners. However the little bit of knowledge that we have gained researching the different models for the blog and time spent chatting to the scooter fanatics has changed all that. Marnitz, myself, my wife and anybody we can influence are destined to ride scooters together. We will ride them for the same reason we ride our other motorcycles; for the pure joy of it