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FREAK (Italjet Dragster)

January 5th, 2010

Some time ago I reported on a lary looking 34hp custom Dragster belonging to journalist and photographer Paul Robinson. At the time of going to press Paul was already working on his second project and had, in fact, unveiled some ‘in progress’ pictures on his popular website Italjet a few months beforehand. What you’re looking at then is Paul’s second Dragster project.

Firstly let me draw your attention to Warp Records. This label is home to some of the most pioneering electronic music artists around, graced by the presence of such genre defying artists as Squarepusher, Brothomstates, Plaid, Autechre and most infamously Richard D. James a.k.a. the Aphex Twin. Paul loves his ‘challenging’ bleep and drill music as much as he loves the challenging Dragster. The two complementing each other quite nicely it was inevitable that Paul should put the two cutting edges together. The result is FREAK, like the product of inter-family relations on a farm in Mississippi, (except Paul’s baby is much better looking). The striking urban camo style paintwork is inspired by Warp act Autechre, or more precisely, their sleeve artwork done by The Designers Republic.

A couple of years back another Warp act, LFO, released a single called ‘FREAK’, a limited edition of which came with a stencil set which Paul implemented on his musically derived Drag’… more of which later. As the photos testify, the resulting paint scheme is a real head turner. Which is appropriate as the spray job was done by popular paint man Alan Turner, who will now, due to his work, forever be referred to simply as ‘Head’. That said, it may not always be for the right reason. As eye catching as the paintjob may be there’s not much scope for middle ground.

In the engine dept, the standard 2T Piaggio 125 lump has been upgraded with the Malossi 172 kit and gear up kit plus a Dell’Orto 25mm carb. The standard air filter box has been purposely retained. Other aftermarket parts include a Lexus-style clear rear lens, checker plate footboards and a PSN pillion bum-stop. You’ll notice one particular hard buck to trends – the exhaust. No PM, NK Sprint or Scorpion here, the FREAK retains the stock pipe which has been chromed and is arguably as aesthetically pleasing as the popular (and louder) alternatives.

Getting back to those LFO stencils… The set was given away as part of a competition – who would use the stencils in the most unique way? The Dragster won netting Paul some exclusive goodies and fifteen minutes of infamy for FREAK with its mug-shot displayed on the Warp website. There was something else I needed to ask regarding the customising…

To match the urban camo style appearance is possibly an urban myth. That FREAK is equipped with an especially built fireproof seat and that some of the original panels have been replaced with armour plating, work carried out in the utmost secrecy. It certainly looks like some kind of compact futuristic war-horse so is it true? And what about the rumours of bizarre gadgets fitted to FREAK, such as a ‘magic’ registration plate and a mysteriously hidden strobe-like light? I raised the issue, it seemed unbelievable yet certain elements at the same time seemed plausible. And if it was all bogus where had all this originated from? It has almost become some kind of mobile X-File. Various lines of enquiry turned up no results, some people denying even knowledge of the myth…

And so it continues. The LFO track from which FREAK derived its moniker begins with an electronic voice informing the listener that ‘This is going to make you freak’. This is followed by drums and a pulsing bass rhythm before the return on top of the warning about your imminent psychological disturbance. This is eventually joined by some jaunty sounding bleeps. As the track progresses the rhythm becomes increasingly intense, urgent and fractured, with laser-like zapping and drums stuck in a roll, almost tripping over itself for a sustained period. This episode eventually subsides to a calmer more relaxed state, with extra bleeping but the robotically voiced warning then returns with a slightly more sinister tone to it. With the halting of the bleeping and warning only the bass remains, and it has a certain quality to it, like an out of breath animal regaining its composure after a kill, readying to go again, with the warning of another freak-out on the way.

Words: Phil Conquest
Photos: Becky Randall
Model: Vanessa Upton

This article was originally published in the print version of PETROL ISSUE.01

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