Col’s scooter rally flashbacks – 80 photos from the ’80s | FEATURE
Everyone loves a bit of 80s scootering nostalgia, right? So, after a small raid on my archives, I’ve picked out 80 odd photos from the 80s. It’s a fairly random collection with varying quality but hopefully, it will jog some good memories and create some interest.
Motorised death traps
My rally going started in 1984 on a PK 50. I skipped a school leavers maths exam to set off to the Newark rally. This marked the start of a lifetime of fun, or as some would say, the start of the slippery downward slope. I spent all of the second half of the 80s dreaming of owning a Lambretta chopper and an Armandos PX Vespa. I sadly had neither, but I did own dozens of other creations, many of which went on to be described as “Motorised death traps!” by our local boys in blue.
It takes a special kind of person to ride a home built/bodged scooter up and down the country wearing nothing more than ripped jeans, a flimsy ill-fitting jacket and footwear that offered the same protection level as a pair of carpet slippers. And believe me, in the mid-1980s our club were SPECIAL.
1984 AF Rayspeed’s TS1 launch
In late 1984, A.F Rayspeed held an open day to show off the blueprint drawings for the newly designed TS1 kit. It promised both mega performance and indestructible reliability. The buzz of interest from customers in the shop was massive, although it took a further 17 months to actually manufacture some prototype kits to be displayed and then tested. The TS1 kit launch day is another often misquoted scootering myth “A glorious red hot summer’s day with thousands of scooterists lining the main road outside AF’s shop”.
It was actually a fairly nippy 1986 mid-March day with a few hundred spectators at most. Those that were there witnessed Ray Kemp blast up and down the main road flat out on his GP 200, fitted with what was to become the most famous performance kit for a Lambretta ever.
The arrival of the new Vespa T5
The Vespa T5 caused a real stir for its unpopular styling initially (scooterists hate change… unless it’s fast) but soon won Vespa riders over with its performance. The first one I ever recall seeing at a rally was in mid ‘86. I think it had something to do with the Armandos shop in Sheffield. Although, strangely, a scooter club mate had been forced to go to Milan on a family holiday, instead of coming to the Colwyn Bay ‘85 rally with us. He brought a photo from his holiday to the next scooter club meeting. It showed two Italians on a strange-looking (to us anyway) red Vespa. This was eight months before we saw a real T5 in the flesh.
An abundance of sacrificial 90SS’
The scooter racing photos were taken at the Three Sisters Circuit. In just two of the photos in the gallery (later on) you can spot eight different Vespa SS90s, imagine the value of those today! Norrie Kerr and the late Terry Frankland are in the pics. The late Dave Webster’s Lambrettas are too. Three absolute legends of the scooter world.
Saturday morning we’d queue up to get a ‘Paddy’ before they sold out. If you didn’t buy one at the rally you couldn’t get one.
Paddy Smith was another legend taken too soon but his memory lives on in the artwork and memories he created.
Six iconic 1980s rallies
- Newark ’84 was an eye-opening journey and rally for a 16-year-old school kid.
- Donington ‘85 was my introduction into watching scooter racing, another massive rally with insane night time entertainment.
- Isle of Wight ‘86. I often think of the enormity of that weekend all these years on. The most infamous National Rally ever.
- Newquay ’87. The most senseless journey I will ever ride; struggling 400 miles ‘2-up’ through the Thursday night of the UK’s worst-ever storm. Millions of trees were blown over (literally) and 20 people killed throughout England and France as the hurricane struck.
- Exmouth ’88. The boisterous and massive crowd outside the sunny Deer Leap pub, was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments – the South West at its very best.
- Fort William ’89. A rally technically cancelled at the last minute, with a threat of roadblocks stopping us getting into town. It didn’t stop our club setting off on the furthest journey north we had ever been on.
The six Paddy Smith Patches above represent my most memorable rally of each of the years I rode in the 80s. The remaining photos are made up of some of my personal favourite scooters from that decade, taken at rallies all over the country.
How many towns can you name from the photos?
Can any of you spot the different rally towns in the photos? There are 12 in total, or maybe you owned or know the whereabouts of any of the scooters. Feel free to add your comments and memories below.
Enjoy the flashback and stay safe, SLUKers
Words and photos: Col
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Col’s 1980s Rallery #1
Col’s 1980s rallery #2
Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe
If you’d like to read more about those mental years, or just love looking at iconic images get yourself a copy of Sticky’s excellent book.
Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe gives a great insight into what was probably the last large-scale youth cult. Perfect reading for these long winter nights (and days) whilst we’re stuck at home.
Also makes a great Christmas gift for the scooterist in your life. Get your copy from ScooterLab.