Part 1: Nosferatu – 1980s classic recreated on a budget | FEATURE
Much like Col’s recent recollection of 90s scootering, I too started scootering in the 1980s. I’d be building scooters in the back garden with school chums. We’d experiment with paint by blowing global flake onto brush painted furniture lacquer – and creating some kind of coloured sandpaper effect worthy of a death race competitor with its ability to scuff skin and draw blood.
Fortunately through wandering the streets and knocking about with likeminded buffoons, I encountered some creative wizards with a Midas touch for building some fantastic scooters; of course, they became lifelong friends and we have shared some brilliant memories.
Fast forward 35 years and one of my besties returns from a life in the USA to look after his Mum who has Alzheimer’s (sad times). To ease the stress we hatched a plan to build a scooter together (like that was a stress-free challenge?!). The catalyst came when we stumbled upon a set of GP legshields and mudguard on fleabay that looked too good to pass up. Tatty and unloved they still had that 80s flair that we once aspired to own. Seeing them gleaming in the sun at seaside rally custom shows, looking like metal gods with evocative names and a style that is almost unmatched in vehicular customisation.
“That’s Nosferatu” a mate exclaimed when I showed him the advert, I knew it looked familiar. A little internet search showed that the parts were indeed from the very same scooter and also that it had recently been restored to its former glory. What to do, recreate a copy? Repaint completely? Build a ‘Drizzle’ version? Well, I remembered there were a couple of time trouble and money GPs so decided to do a part 2 – Nostraduex or Nosferatutu, oh how we chuckled at the thought of F. W. Murnau’s version of Dracula in a tutu.
We found a GP frame and leaning on the good nature of some old pals from the Westside Unicorns SC (who still have a collection of old junk), we managed to rustle up most of the many hundreds of bits ‘n pieces needed – and boy are there a lot of bits! Like kids in a sweet shop, we had a pick ‘n mix adventure haggling parts away from them.
The engine choice was a default decision; I’ve been attempting to race in the BSSO production class for a couple of years and the RB20 kit has proven to be almost bomb proof (famous last words as I did the big end at Mallory this year!) anyway I had a spare carb, exhaust and small block casing and the performance is close to my stock TS1 – far in excess of the Stage 4 with reverse cone clubman and VW tailpipe my mate had before he went to the states, so RB it was.
What about the paint you say?
This was going to be a tribute scooter on a budget and on a deadline. I want to have it ready for Llandudno in July and would be spraying it myself in the back garden. What could possibly go wrong?
Spurred on by my septic mate and fuelled by nostalgia and hazy memories of evenings spent in the shed spaced out on paint fumes many years ago I set out to learn the old ways, pinstripe tape, rattle cans, a hundred metres of masking tape and a hobby airbrush, how hard could it be?!
Spray, mess up and repeat…
The pictures hopefully illustrate the learning journey, though I have not included the ones that went wrong. Shakey hand fogging = start again, heavy finger on the trigger = overspray and start again, slightest puff of wind = dust on wet paint, or even worse – painted thing falls over = start again, too cold = pickled finish yep start again, too impatient = pin tape pulls across the soft base paint and yes you guessed = start again.
You get the idea, very frustrating. All credit to the professionals.
Perseverance pays off
Still, I’ve binge-watched Youtube for special interest tutorials and then also watched a couple on airbrushing and I’m getting the hang of it now. Of course, I thought that I could still get the go faster twin line tape I remembered from Bitz-a-cars, but alas the infant shop assistants had no idea what I was on about! So it was with much joy that I found a body shop (not the smelly one) with some single line pinstripe tape. The secret I found was to ‘thumb’ it around the corners and peeling it off, oooh how satisfying. I could make a set of relaxation memes of the reveals if it wasn’t so feckin’ hard to get the lines right in the first place!
Anyway, after a few sheets of wet ‘n dry, some choice words, a bucket load of coffee and some patience I’m almost there. It’s a little rough around the edges (a bit like bagpuss) but in keeping with the original 35-year-old leggies and done on a budget too, the old fashioned way. Green candy would be nice but VW Scirrocco Viper Green is a good match (I’m colour blind anyway so who knows?).
Next, I tackle the side panels, a far-reaching expanse of potential cock-ups! See you in part two…
Words and photos: Jer Crew
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