The original Italjet Dragster is still widely regarded by many die-hard scooterists (myself included) as ‘THE’ auto that sits closest to the ethos of a classic scooter. They’re two-stroke, tuneable, stylish and have the odd niggle – just like a classic scooter. Ok, they may not be geared but we can overlook that discrepancy! They’re also much rarer than many classic machines, in 2020 there were just 128 of them on the road in the UK. In comparison, there were 958 Lambrettas GP 150/200s on the road and 204 Vespa P200Es.

This fine specimen is the work of Yorkshire based tuner, Warren Wilkinson (why is Yorkshire such a hotbed of scooter tuning talent?). What started out as a simple engine build for a customer turned into a full-on, ground-up rebuild. The engine work was just the start of a much more involved custom project.

Stripping the old, used and abused Italjet back to the frame gave Warren a chance to get the scooter up to the kind of finish he likes to see. Once the frame was powder coated in a tasty grey metallic finish the project could really get started. Especially seeing as the owner had already had the panelwork painted in a striking peppermint Petronas finish.

FLICK THROUGH THE BUILD GALLERY BELOW

31bhp touring motor

Of course, the engine is quite an important part of the build and the customer wanted a useable rally/touring engine rather than going for outright power. Using a 183 top end, Malossi variator, big carb and one of Warren’s handmade exhausts (he reckons it takes him around 30-hours to roll the cones and build an exhaust!), plus a bit of tuning the engine is putting out just over 31bhp and produces a nice spread of power. There’s no alloy welding to allow massive transfers, or a huge reed block. It’s a straightforward build, with some obvious magic worked in.

Warren talks us through the scooter build and engine work in the video above. We also show it on the Dyno and take it out for a quick blast. It’s fair to say the scooter is pretty rapid! Although Warren wasn’t happy with the setup and after we left he changed over to a set of blue clutch springs, he says it’s transformed the ride. Not that there was much wrong to start with! Even so, less revs to pull away is a good thing.
A tuned Italjet Dragster is always great fun to ride and this one is no exception. It’s a beast, with more than enough power to hoist that heavy front end into the air on the throttle – if you wish. It’s rapid on the road but not overly tuned. Warren regularity builds higher horsepower motors for his customers but sometimes a happy medium makes for a nicer ride and a scooter that is easier to live with.

Flick through the gallery below

The cockpit

One unusual modification on this scooter is that the handlebars have been extended by one inch on either side. It actually makes for a nicer, more relaxed ride. The bars have been stripped back as well, which leaves space to mount the tasty Daytona dash – a great replacement for the original analogue clocks (I think I’ll be treating my own Drag to a set of those soon). Warren has also built custom switchgear, fitted Italjet Formula master cylinders and one of his own carbon screens, and a few other carbon parts (WR make a few Drag carbon items). The whole finish is very clean, trick and subtle.

Battery delete

Moving the battery from the original position in the centre of the Italjet trellis frame is a modification that has been done for years, although the battery is more often moved to under the seat. On this scooter, it’s been hidden on a custom bracket underneath the rear seat pod. Modern tech means you can use a smaller gel battery and lie it down. it’s a neat touch. The space where the battery sat has been covered with a Wilkinson Racing colour-coded plate. The devil is in the detail with any custom build. neat one-off touches can set a scooter apart from run of the mill machines.

We were lucky enough to be allowed a ride on the scooter by the West Midlands based owner, Rob before he’d even seen the finished scooter. He was due to pick it up just a couple of days later so thankfully it arrived back at WR in one piece.

It’s always good to ride a quick two-stroke and this one made me go home and do a couple of five-minute jobs on my Dragster to get it running again. It’s also given me the push I needed to get it set up properly by Warren very soon.

Wilkinson Racing

Thanks to Warren Wilkinson (and Rob) for help with this article. Wilkinson Racing are based in Cleakheaton, West Yorkshire. They offer a full range of mechanical, tuning, custom, racing and rebuild services. They also have their own in-house Dyno and are as happy working on classic scooters as they are building BSSO championship-winning fast autos. Click on this box to visit their Facebook page.

We try not to feature too many custom scooters on SLUK, we leave that to the likes of ScooterNova wherever possible but this one sits outside the classic scooter mould and in a year when the Italjet Dragster is due to be reborn we thought we’d celebrate this design classic.

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