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The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange (Lambretta)

January 19th, 2010

Don’t be misled by the title, this custom scooter bears no relation to mobile phones nor was it inspired by any advertising campaign. Having said that, the slogan ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange’ does sum this scooter up rather nicely.

The Darkside fraternity refer to the brand of mobile phone in question with their bastardised version of the slogan – ‘the future’s bright, the future’s plastic’ which is of course appropriate given that automatic scooters are made predominantly out of plastic (and they’re the future, apparently). But what we have here is a Darkside scooter that isn’t plastic – it’s a 1970 GP150 Lambretta, minus the gears.

‘Innovation’ and ‘vision’ are words that are used in marketing spiel for Orange mobile phones and they’re words that can also be used to sum up the work of the owner of this scooter, David Briggs. David’s vision, as such, is to produce fine looking traditionally styled custom scooters with auto engines. The plan of action with this project was to produce a standard looking Lambretta on ten inch wheels. How this scooter differs to previous conversions is that there’s now a lot more room to access the spark plug, this is mainly because of the dimensions of the engine and, unlike David’s previous conversions this one’s air-cooled. The other thing that should be noted is the type of engine mount that’s been used on this conversion. Other homemade auto conversions that I’ve come across tend to suffer from vibrations through the frame. David’s utilises original Piaggio engine mounts and the end result is a smooth ride with no noticeable vibrations.

As many of you will know, it can cost thousands for a one-off build. The engine cases used on this conversion (originally belonging to a Piaggio Typhoon 125) cost David a tenner. “They were very incomplete though”, he says “but offered a good base to work with”. And now that the engine has been fully fettled it’s as good as new, better than new in fact. PSN were once again appointed to do the tuning work. And perhaps quite sensibly, a 30hp+ fuel guzzler wasn’t opted for this time – “23hp is plenty”, says David. With this project there was no need for an out and out wheelie machine, instead a set-up suitable for long distance cruising utilizing David’s own four gallon fuel tank was deemed the best solution. On the cosmetic front, David opted to do the paint work himself this time, the colour scheme was originally derived from an old pot of original Lambretta touch up paint that he had lying around in the workshop. So using water based paint he sprayed the frame himself. And to say that David doesn’t spray bikes for a living, I think he’s done a fine job of it and he’s managed to save a few quid by doing the job himself (even if he did manage to spray various parts of his workshop orange in the process).

Given the work involved and the parts that have been used, the end product is a well-built machine that’s up-to-date in terms of tuning, reliability and handling. You could say that David’s a little bit compulsive. I mean, this is his fourth auto conversion now and (at the time of writing) he’s currently working on a fifth as we speak. What impressed me most about this conversion was the speed that he built it. While I was in Grimsby taking shots of David’s last project he had yet another bare frame sat in the workshop awaiting some TLC. And it was only really a matter of weeks before I was able to look at the complete scooter in all its orangery. And was it worthy of a feature? Like the man from Delmonte, he say “Yes”.

Words & Photos: Paul Robinson

This article was originally published in the print version of PETROL ISSUE.03

If you’ve got a custom scooter that you reckon is worthy of a feature, get in touch. We’re always on the look out for custom scooters and you never know, we might feature yours.