Moment in Time: Mostly legal | VIBE
WHERE: 102 Bulkington Lane, Nuneaton, Warwickshire
WHEN: 17th September, 1985
WHO: Nigel Ellis
WHAT: My beloved Vespa Rally 200
WHY: My first day legally riding. Well, almost….
This was the first time I had legitimately ridden my scooter from my house to my (then) girlfriend’s on my 17th birthday. I had previously ridden other scooters, either across fields and a couple of times on the road, but this was the first time I was ‘on the road’.
I look at this picture and remember the unbridled joy I felt at the independence and sheer joy it gave me. It also, indirectly, resulted in me developing a beer gut and ended my burgeoning long/middle distance running career! Up until that day I used to cycle a minimum of 25 miles a day as college was the other side of town, and my mates and girlfriend lived the opposite side of town – I was always flying around on my much abused 10 speed Kalkhoff racer.
It brings back the particular memory of the seller pointing out to my parents (after we had paid the £180 for it) that I wouldn’t be able to ride it as I had to hold a full licence (cheers mate!).
“Don’t worry”, I said to my dad, “I know a bloke who can convert it to a 125”. He looked sceptical. He looked even more sceptical when my mate Dean Wilson who was only a year older than me, turn up in his plumbing overalls clutching a 50 Special barrel and piston…
Nevertheless we rattled about in the shed for 30 minutes and emerged announcing that the conversion was done. Logbook was sent off with ‘124cc’ in the appropriate box and the deed was done. With the log book back, and it registered as 124cc (it still is) I could insure it and I could ride it legally (well, as I said, almost!).
HCB 830N and I went on many adventures, the first of which involved a 300 mile round trip to Kent with no tools, no spares, no gloves, no waterproofs and, frankly, no idea!!
It started a love affair with scooters that has seen me own and ride countless numbers of Vespas and Lambrettas, have innumerable experiences with what are now lifelong friends, and even put my house and family life at risk trying to establish a scooter shop!
I still love scooters, still have a Rally 200 in the garage (sadly not the same one) and still enjoy my occasional forays to rallies/ events.
The one thing that won’t ever change though is the memory of that first day riding my first scooter. Priceless.
And, by the way, the tax was ‘in the post’…