Wildcat Lambretta street racer – one careful owner | CUSTOM
If you’re fan of ‘ridden not hidden’ custom scooters then you’ll really enjoy this blast-from-the-past Lambretta that looks just as good today as it did when first built back in the 1990s.
Dean Percival is the owner, and has been for 20 years now, an anniversary he chose to celebrate by treating his trusty Lambretta to a bit of a revamp followed by a studio photo-shoot to capture the moment for posterity. Hence the model featured here too – all part of the celebrations!
But let’s go back a couple of decades to the early 1990s when young Dean began building this scooter. He’d got his first scooter at the age of 14, a Lambretta SX150, and hailing from the south coast around Portsmouth so it’s no surprise to learn that the first event he attended was on the Isle of Wight.
His brother Kev got the scooter bug too, working for Rafferty Newman for a while before setting up his own scooter shop, Allstyles, which is still going today, albeit under different management after Kev retired from scooters a few year ago.
Having a brother in the trade proved handy for Dean who when beginning this project decided that he, “Wanted a scooter like new, with no filler and which had never seen the road before.” A tall order, even in the 1990s, but buying a new-old-stock ‘factory replacement’ frame from Kev was a good start. He also asked his brother to search out some new panelwork on his next part-finding trip to Italy, and so the scooter began to take shape.
Dean wanted to build a street racer. The DTC Lambretta owned and painted by Maca, as featured in an 80s scooter magazine, inspired him – as it did many of us – into potentially hot-footing it up to Yorkshire for a DTC of his own.
However, coming from the home of well known 60s tuning brand Wildcat, part of the Rafferty Newman set up, and with Geoff Stephens of Wildcat still involved with scooters, Dean decided instead on creating a local alternative to the AF DTC Lambrettas. Geoff built and tuned a TS1 engine for him, Brian Shepherd at Fantasy Bike Art, then up the road near Winchester, applied the paint, while Quality Chrome in Hull have handled the plating over the years.
Dean’s Lambretta has had its fair share of wear and tear during its 20 years of use, but despite Dean admitting to being a bit of a ‘trophy hunter’ (“I’ve won many street racer, custom Lambretta, dealer special, best display, best chrome/paint and ridden trophies, as well as sprinting trophies on it too”), he’s not shy about using it hard too. After all, a Lambretta is a mode of transport and what else to do with it other than use it as such?
Over the decades Dean has ridden Wildcat to most seaside scooter rallies around the UK such as Great Yarmouth, Sandford, Exmouth, Woolacombe, Bridlington, Isle of Wight, Camber Sands, Finlake, Mersea Island, as well as the Great London Rideout, loads of LCGB rallies including the Isle of Man, as well as Euro rallies to like Ireland and Belgium. In fact it’s fair to say if this scooter rings a bell, there’s every chance because you’ve seen it parked up at a rally somewhere or another.
Along with the regular stone chips and the like, Dean has also crashed Wildcat, one year the Isle of Wight rally in fact, ‘racing’ a friend through the streets of Ryde. “I was lucky really,’ he explained, “because I landed on a grass bank after clipping a wooden post and tearing the exhaust off. A car driver then drove over the exhaust. The lucky part was the grass bank meant no real damage to the panelwork as result.”
Dean has also sprinted Wildcat at organised events at Santa Pod (pictured above) winning trophies two years running, at Jurby on the Isle of Man, as well as getting into the 14 seconds bracket at Thorney Island Sprint – not bad for a full frame custom scooter.
But what has all this scooter riding fun and thrashing meant to the Lambretta? Like Trigger’s broom, it’s needed a few repairs over the years, and the list includes three new seats, four barrels, six pistons, three exhausts, two carbs, three engine casings, and four cranks. The Geoff Stephens tuned motor is still sporting a TS1 top end though, casings matched, and with an old skool Amal carb.
Twenty years of riding pleasure has also meant Dean has been able to evaluate products and reckons the best tyres he’s ever used were Dunlop TT90s; “It’s a shame they don’t make them any more, while he says the best exhaust, “Has got to be the Swarbrick, then the Taffspeed that’s on it now.”
As for the future? Well it should come as no surprise that Dean intends to keep thrashing his Wildcat Lambretta Street Racer around the country, with a trip to Italy in 2017 for the EuroLambretta there also on the cards so he can ride his GP home for the first time.
We hope you all agree it’s good to a see a scooter still being well used in the way it was originally designed for, especially a custom machine like this. Tidy.
Model: Emma Cops
Photography by Mick O`Farrell at Revolver Creations
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Owner: Dean Percival
Local club: Buccaneers SC (Hayling Island), LCGB
First scooter: Lambretta SX 150 age 14
First event: IOW 1983
Racing story: “I raced a scooter sidecar outfit for a couple of seasons. At Cadwell Park, the first race, I flew off the line past the legendary sidecar racer Ralph Remnant, which gave me a big smile as I’d been told Ralph was the man to beat but few ever did. In fact, I continued the race ahead of Ralph, wearing the large grin on my face, thinking I was the new king of the scooter sidecars!
“In the next race however, I was left standing as Ralph roared past me as if I was standing still. Turns out in Race 1 Ralph’s engine was one clutch plate missing. With a full six plate system back in place, he was once again taking no prisoners, especially from a new, young upstart!”
Scooter name: Wildcat TS1 Racer
Scooter model: Innocenti Lambretta Grand Prix
Scooter purchased: Built it 20 years ago as a street racer. NOS frame from brother Kev who also sourced NOS panelwork for me too.
Inspiration for custom scooter: Macca’s first DTC racer
Paint: Brian Shepherd at Fantasy Bike Art.
Chrome: By Karl and Keith at Quality Chrome, several times over the years.
Engine: TS1 top end, Tune by Geoff Stephens, MB big head, 60 stroke crank, six-plate clutch, electronic ignition, Taffspeed exhaust, and still runs on the old Amal carb. All casings matched.