There’s a rebellion going on, and you can take part.
You see lots of motorcycles these days sporting ‘built not bought’ stickers. These are bikers with shed-build creations proudly proclaiming that they’ve done the work themselves rather than paying a shop to customise or tune for them.
The fact is though, that the scooter scene more than any other, has always had a hardcore of ‘built not bought’ mentality primarily because scooters lend themselves to modification.
Nothing could be simpler than an integrated unit engine that directly drives the rear wheel. Put that at the back and forward motion’s sorted.
Of course then you have all the many opportunities offered by tube frames and sheet steel. If you have an imagination and angle grinder and a welder then the sky is the limit.
Here in Great Britain we are extraordinarily lucky to be able to make road-legal anything from chopped scooters to motorised sheds, sofas and beds.
Things get a little more complex when plastic is involved because making new shapes in such materials actually takes a different skill-set from the usual cut, bash, bend and paint so beloved of most scooterists. Maybe that is why so few radically restyled customs have been built around Gilera Runners and Italjet Dragsters beyond stripping bits off and fitting aftermarket body kits.
Nigel Staley, the creator of this Scootacar, has an advantage in that respect. Having spent the 1980s involved in the bike scene as part of Leicester’s Uncle Bunt’s chopper shop, he got involved in prototyping for the car industry. Now he runs a workshop in producing moulds for all manner of plastic parts using the vacuum-forming process.
I went to Nigel with my idea for the Lambretta ‘Coast-to-Coast’ windscreen which he now retails through his eBay shop Carbon Guard UK. He also produces many other parts for classic and automatic scooters in clear or carbon effect as a sideline.
At his core though, Nigel is a creative and what floats his boat is getting a reaction to something he’s produced. In the past I’ve known him to knock-up electric bicycles in 1930s motorcycle style, but this time he turned his attention to making a scooter that looks like a car.
When 3 become 1
Those of you with your ears to the ground will probably have one dirty ear. Also, you’ll know that prolific custom builder Sean Robinson from the south coast recently completed a very similar project to this but built around a Vespa. It seems that great, twisted minds do think alike.
Unlike Sean’s mainly metal monstrosity, Nigel’s creation is made from a mixture of fibreglass and other plastics to form a light but stylish body for his donor scooter.
Beneath the glitz is a rather uninspiring scooter in the form of a Lexmoto Tommy: basically a re-badged rip-off of the Honda Joker scooter from 1996 built by Chinese firm Znen. The four-stroke 125cc version makes 8.6hp which is still several Viagras short of a boner. What attracted Nigel was the price: £220 for a 600-mile old, fully functional scooter. Apart from the lack of substantial forward thrust, the Tommy was actually a perfect donor bike. All that needed modifying was a 10” thick-tube extension to the frame in place of the original floor-mounted fuel tank. The original chrome controls and headlight have all been reused, but simply mounted onto straighter handlebars.
The other technical oddity is the vintage car handbrake lever which runs along the right side of the vehicle and is merely a means to pull it onto the centre-stand while seated on the wide Farmer Giles tractor-seat.
Nigel explains the full process of creating the Scootacar’s body in our exclusive SLUK video, but in summary, it’s based on Austin fibreglass wings with a rear end and centre and rear sections that Nigel created and styled himself using polyfoam carved to the base shape and fibreglassing over the top.
Sent to the Doghouse
The badge-bar at the front plays host to an enamel ornament from the International Doghouse Club. This badge harks back to the 1960s where it was used as a signal that the (male) vehicle owner had been naughty enough to be sent to the metaphorical doghouse. A vinyl cover was offered for use in the rare occasions that marital bliss was restored in the home.
What is the moral of this story? Simply that you could park the most expensive custom scooter ever produced in Britain alongside this £1,200 plastic creation built around a 50mph Chinese scooter and people will pay more attention to the Scootacar.
As members of the International Doghouse Club will confirm, it’s not what you’ve got that gets you in trouble, it’s what you do with it and particularly where you park it…
Words, images and video: Sticky | Additional images: Ellis and Rotund Pontipine