Peaky Blinders Customised Lambretta Li125

Sex, drugs and ragtime music – Paul Douglas’ tribute to the hit TV series shows this unlikely combination translates into metal just as well as it does to the small screen.

You can change what you do, but you can’t change what you want

The man behind Peaky Blinders is Paul Douglas, who’s lucky enough to earn his living as the manager of a motorcycle dealership. With a lifelong love of scooters and access to some of the most powerful motorcycles on sale to the general public, it was only natural that he’d want to combine the two at some point.

‘Just enough’ spatter.

“The original plan was to build a Guy Martin themed custom,” explained Paul. “At the advance planning stage I realised it had already been done and to a very high standard. There was no point repeating that so I needed to rethink.

Blood will cause confusion if Paul ever takes a tumble!

“Although I’ve owned and built several customs over the years they’ve been mainly street racers and I was determined that this build would be a full blown muralled machine. Once I’d made that decision, to go with a Peaky Blinders theme, which is one of my favourite TV shows, was the obvious choice.

 

Set in Birmingham during the aftermath of the First World War, Peaky Blinders tells the story of the Shelby family and is multi-layered. On the surface it’s a straightforward and often violent gangland drama but look a little deeper and there are many sub plots including the damage inflicted to those who fought in the conflict, the breakdown of the British class system, women’s rights and political intrigue.

Although it received critical acclaim from the outset I must admit that before the photoshoot for this article it had bypassed me completely. If you’ve missed the TV show, starring Cillian Murphy, I’d strongly recommend it but be warned — it’s addictive and I’m not certain my wife was convinced that I needed to watch all three series back to back as research for this article…

 

When you plan something well, there’s no need to rush

For decades, Series 1 and 2 Lambrettas were regarded as the ugly cousins of the slimstyle model. More recently their ample curves and distinctive road presence have found a keen following, meaning that good examples are increasingly hard to find at a reasonable price. Paul said the basis for Peaky Blinders was particularly uninspiring: “One of the sales reps mentioned that he’d acquired a Series 2 frame and after a lot of nagging on my part he agreed to part with it. Then I gathered together the panel work and other components.

With the engine contracted out to tuning supremo Darrell Taylor and after the base coat had been applied by Paul Firth, it was to a local contact that Paul turned to for murals. “One of the best artists at the moment is Kev Thomas and he was my only choice for Peaky Blinders.”

 

Get yourself a decent haircut man, we’re going to the races

Having worked in the motor trade for most of his life Kev, based in Doncaster, has huge experience of vehicle refinishing but has only recently turned to airbrush work: “I was clearing out the garage a couple of years ago and found an airbrush that my son had got bored with. I tried my hand with it and was pleased with the results. My first commission was a helmet and things have grown from there. Paul’s shop took in a Judge Dredd themed Suzuki that I’d sprayed and he was impressed enough to get in touch and commission his Guy Martin theme.

Splash plate and rear mudguard by K2 before fitting

“I’d got to the stage of producing advanced mock-ups for the design when Paul got in touch to say that he wanted a Peaky Blinders scheme. I couldn’t have been happier as it’s my favourite show and I knew exactly how it should look.” Unfortunately there was a slight difference of opinion when he outlined his plans to Paul in greater detail.

“We both agreed that it should be in monochrome but Paul only wanted to feature the brothers whereas I was convinced that it should tell the whole story and that other characters should be included.” Fortunately the pair came to an agreement and in Paul’s own words, “Kev’s done a fantastic job, the best I’ve seen.” Show judges seem to agree with Peaky Blinders taking ‘Punters Choice’ and four second places at its debut in Bridlington last year.

 

You’ve got to get what you want in your own way

With engine and paint under way Paul turned his attention to the fine details. “I’ve used Keith Newman’s K2 Custom Classics on several projects,” said Paul. “The quality and standard of service are second to none.” With Peaky Blinders as the theme there’s an obvious motif to use – the classic razor blade. Sewn into their cap peaks the humble razor blade gave the gang both their name and principle weapon of offence. From the rear mudguard to horncast badge via tap and choke levers K2’s accessories bring a sense of menace to the design with the polished stainless steel complementing the predominantly monochrome paintwork perfectly. Spattered across the design are splashes of red, blood red. Red seat covers lift the design perfectly. “Originally I’d planned for black seats,” said Paul. “They just didn’t look right though. I wasn’t convinced that red would work either but I’m very pleased with the result.”

Central image is so lifelike I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked up.

Bringing the whole project together was Chris Swift. A ‘hobby’ scooter mechanic, Swifty is the only man Paul trusts to bring his scooter dreams to life – high praise indeed from a motorcycle industry professional. Although he’s the owner and builder of several custom scooters Paul is a reluctant showman and at Bridlington he actually denied being Peaky Blinders’ owner to avoid too many questions! “Although the scooters are based on my ideas I can’t take all the credit as they’re a team effort,” he says.

On thing’s for certain Peaky Blinders is a stunning tribute to the shown – even Thomas Shelby would struggle to take offence.

 

 

MAN & MACHINE

Name: Paul Douglas

Job: Motorcycle sales manager

Scooter club & town: Rotherham SC

How and when did you first become interested in scooters: I think all 14-year-olds in 1979 were influenced by Quadrophenia – following the older lads who had scooters, trying to fit in with parkas and suede boots – good days.

First scooter: GP150.

Favourite scooter model: SX200.

Favourite style of custom scooter: Anything that just says time spent on it.

Any stories: Riding behind my mate Hodgy we took a corner too fast and came across a humpback bridge with no time to slow down. The scooters were all over the place before we both came off. Hodgy couldn’t stop laughing.

Favourite and worst rally/event: Favourite is Bridlington, worst is Mablethorpe.

Superb detailing courtesy of K2 Custom Classics.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden a scooter: Whitby, very cold.

What do you like about rallies/events: Seeing all the custom scooters and I enjoy the night life but get sent home early – I’m not good at drinking!

What do you dislike about rallies/events: Moaners.

Still to add at the time of our photoshoot were panel handles made by K2 in the form of cut-throat razors.

Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: Top Gun.

If you had to recommend one scooter part or item of riding kit what would it be: Best helmet you can afford.

What’s the most useless part you’ve ever bought for one of your scooters: Stainless steel runner board protectors.

Paul was fortunate to secure straight, rot-free panelwork.

Name of scooter: Peaky Blinders

Scooter model: Lambretta Li125

Date purchased & cost: £1400 for spares.

Time to build & by who: Once we got all the bits together it took Chris Swift about three months but it was started 18 months ago just gathering parts.

Engine spec: Kit: Monza, Crank: 60mm, Carb: Dellorto, Exhaust: TT, Porting & Dyno by: Darrell Taylor.

Paintwork & murals done by: Base coat by Paul Firth and murals by Kev Thomas – fantastic job.

Is there any powdercoating: By Keith Newman at K2.

Is there any chrome: Quality Chrome Hull.

What was the hardest part of the project: Getting all the bits to fit!

Do you have any advice for anyone starting a project: Always dry build first!

Is there anyone you wish to thank: Chris Swift for putting up with all the crap I bought while he was doing the build. Kev Thomas for the best paint job I’ve seen. Paul Firth, Keith Newman, Stuart Gulliver, Ernie Richardson, and, of course, my wife.

PAINTING A BLINDER

If you’ve never heard of Kev Thomas don’t worry, such is his reputation that he’s not needed to advertise for many years. Although full resprays still pay the bills, Key is devoting an increasing amount of his time to custom work. A self-taught airbrush artist, his preferred technique is a mixture of freehand work and careful masking.

Facebook: Keys Custom Paints. Email: kevscustompaints@gmail.com

A ‘flat’ produced by Kev of the Shelby Brothers. “Although there’s a lot of space on a scooter for murals there are very few flat surfaces. Every image needs to be distorted in order to look convincing.”
“I draw the main components on water based masking tape by hand and then peel away layer by layer until it’s time to add fine details freehand.”
“I start by printing off the images I’m going to use and positioning them on the scooter. Once th design is finalised I use them as reference, first to produce a pencil drawing and then to fill in detail.”
“Each of the images is painted individually and then masked off, enabling me to build up the effect piece by piece.”
“Once all the murals are in place I apply around seven coats of lacquer, producing an exceptionally smooth finish.”

Words: Stan

Photos: Gary Chapman

Words of wisdom: Thomas Shelby

Enjoy more Scootering reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.

…. Now thats a Custom Lammie …. £30,000 Spent customising two Lambrettas ….

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The History of the scooter.

Scooters

Well luv them or hate em ( we luv them ) everybody has seen one or more commonly heard them, there are lots of types but the ones most interesting to us are of course the Lambretta and Vespa, so heres a bit of did you know…………

A brief history

Construction and models

POW – it’s the Mods!

Music

Clothing 

Timeline of models

Modern scootering

A cutdown

Picture Galley

 

 Mods

 

Construction and models

 

A brief history

The main stimulus for the design style of the Lambretta and Vespa dates back to Pre-WWII , These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by the US military as field transport for theParatroops and Marines. The US military had used them to get around German defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges

Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D’Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job by Ferdinando Innocenti of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver’s clothes soiled.

Construction and models

Like Vespas of the day, Lambrettas had three or four gears and two-stroke engines with capacities ranging from 49 cc to 198 cc. Most two-stroke engines require a mixture of oil with the gasoline in order to lubricate thepiston and cylinder.

Along with the Vespa, Lambretta was an iconic vehicle of the 1950s and 1960s when they became the adopted vehicle of choice for the UK youth-culture known as Mods. The character Jimmy from the influential scooter movie Quadrophenia rode a Lambretta Li 150 Series 3. Of the 1960s models, the TV (Turismo Veloce), the Special (125 and 150), the SX (Special X) and the GP (Grand Prix) are generally considered the most desirable due to their increased performance and refined look; the “matte black” fittings on the GP model are said to have influenced European car designs throughout the 1970s. These three models came with a front disc brake made by Campagnolo. The TV was the world’s first production two-wheeled vehicle with a front disc brake !!

Lambrettas have attracted an eclectic following of ” Mods ”

(Aka)

Casuals,  RoundelScooterScooterboy,  SharpiesSkinhead,

Soulboy,   Suedehead .

POW – it’s the Mods!

Like most phenomena, the Mod movement happened at exactly the right moment. By the time the media noticed them – 1962 – a social, demographic and economic crossroads had been reached: National Service had been abolished, the economy had begun to boom, and hire purchase arrangements gave people vastly increased spending power. A better time to be a teenager will almost certainly never occur. The Mod scene went bananas.

From being a scattering of ultra hip subterranean club dwellers, Mod had quickly evolved to take on a definitive culture and structure of its own. At the top, there were the Aces, still on the cutting edge, still setting the pace, still listening to the hippest tunes. The individuals may have changed, but the attitude had not. It was perfectly possible, while grooving to obscure ska tracks in some Shepherd’s Bush basement club, to bump into David Bailey, Twiggy and Mary Quant in the same evening.

The next strata were the instantly recognisable and much maligned ‘Tickets’ or ‘Numbers’. They were first noticed in East London, when gangs of arrogant, strutting kids began to descend upon dancehalls and nightclubs, causing inevitable confrontation. Their look generally followed where the Aces lead, although with a more working class flavour. The shapeless army surplus Parka coat became iconic as well as practical. It protected the wearers’ expensive weekend suits from the vagaries of the London climate, and was also kept the cold out while weaving among the traffic on the regulation scooter. These scooters – predominantly Italian Vespa and Lambretta models – were spectacular. Bedecked with peacock fans of wing mirrors, and decorated with numerous headlights, crash bars, whip aerials, white wall tyres and high backed seats, they were possibly the coolest thing ever to hit the tarmac.

For everyday wear, turned up Levi’s became de rigueur, often shrunk to size by being worn in the bath. Desert boots and Fred Perry tennis shirts were enormously popular. For these kids, Mod really was a way of life. Every night, something would be happening somewhere, the entire scene fuelled by amphetamine – very much the Mod drug of choice. Although available, pot simply did not fit in with Mod ideology. Pot slowed you down. Speed kept you leaping for days. There was no competition. This strata of the scene began to produce it’s own bands – notably the Small Faces, the Yardbirds and an Acton outfit called the High Numbers, shortly to achieve fame as the Who.

For a brief while, the Who defined Mod. A string of classic singles: ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Anyhow Anywhere Anyway’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and the frankly bonkers ‘My Generation’ propelled the Mod sound into every jukebox and radio in Britain. ‘The Who are clearly a new form of crime’ wrote the Daily Telegraph,’anti social and armed against the bourgoise’. Combining the angry, spitting stance of the backstreet Mod with the Pop Art stylings of their manager – leading Ace Kit Lambert – the Who are still the first thing that comes to mind whenever ‘Mod’ is mentioned. This is perhaps rather inaccurate – many Mod purists never accepted the Who.

Music

2 Tone,   Acid Jazz,   Beat music,  Blue-eyed soul, Blue BeatBritish Invasion,  British rhythm and blues,  BritpopFreakbeatGarage rock, Jazz ,Mod revivalModern soulMotownNorthern SoulPost-punk revival, Power PopReggaeR&BRocksteadySoulSkaStax RecordsTrojan Records.

Clothing 

Ben Sherman,  Bespoke tailoringBrogues,    Carnaby StreetChelsea boots, Fishtail parka, Fred Perry,  HarringtonLevi’s,  LoafersParkaSta-Prest Suit.

Kitted out.         Isle Of Man, late 1960’s.

Timeline of models

 Model A, 1947–1948

 Model B, 1948–1950

 Model C/LC, 1950–1951

 Model D, 1951–1957

 Model LD, 1951–1958

 Model E, 1953–1954

 Model F, 1954–1955

 TV Series 1, 1957–1959

 Li Series 1, 1958–1959

 Li Series 2, 1959–1961

 TV Series 2, 1959–1962

 Li Series 3, 1961–1967

 TV/GT Range, 1962–1965

 Li Special, 1963–1969

 J Range, 1964–1971

 SX Range, 1966–1969

 Lui/Vega/Cometa, 1968–1970

 GP/DL Range, 1969–1971 (Italy)

 GP/DL, 1972–1998 (India)

Modern scootering

Contrary to popular belief, Mod never really died it just went underground. With a generation of young fans entering the Northern Soul network, some Mods also broke off to form the long lived scooter scene.

A well known film released in the late 70’s helped not only revive the Mod scene, but people’s interest in scooters as well. The number of organised scooter rallies increased steadily over the 80’s and 90’s and are still going strong to this day with events being organised all over the world.

Cutting down their Vespas to make them run faster, the scooter scene remains hugely popular across the country. A network of rallies regularly attracts thousands, with the Isle Of Wight holiday weekender remaining an enduring staple of the scene.

The Lambretta and vespa  are iconic scooters and they still have a ‘similar’ shape some 60 years on from when they were first manufactured, testament to classic designing from the beginning.

Owning a Vespa is not just about the scooter. It’s a way of life. Buy one and you’ll see what I mean!

Liam Gallagher on his series 1, shot taken in his Mother’s back
garden, Burnage, Manchester

Liam Gallagher on “Ace Face ” scooter.

Quotes: From Quadrophenia (1979)
Ace Face: [Fined for rioting in Brighton] I’ll pay now. Got a pen, judge?

Paul Weller on his scooter

The Style Council/Paul Weller scooter wrap graphics

Sir Bradley “Wiggo” Wiggins

Some beautiful examples.

A cutdown

A cutdown is a customised scooter (usually an Italian Vespa or Lambretta) with parts of the bodywork removed or cut away. Cutdowns were popular amongst skinheads and scooterboys during the mod revival of the 1970s and 1980s. While the style-obsessed British mod youth subculture of the 1960s prized the glamorous, metropolitan image of scooters, many skinheads and scooterboys viewed their bikes as simply a form of transportation.

While some scooter enthusiasts have focused on the stripped-down look, with just a bare frame and visible motor and mechanical parts, some scooterboys put back almost as much hardware as they had taken off, by adding customized chrome-plated accessories and racks.

A cutdown scooter resembles a “naked scooter”, which is a scooter designed without panels covering the engine and with little or no bodywork. The difference between the two types is that while a cutdown scooter started as a regular scooter with body panels and bodywork, before it was customized, a “naked scooter” is designed and manufactured as a “bare-bones” vehicle. In the 1960s, Lambretta models A through D were in this category. In the 1990s, Italjet produced a stripped-down scooter called the Dragster.

This “naked” Lambretta has been cut down and customized.

A picture says a thousand words, and there are plenty of pictures here for you to look at, so sit back, click away and enjoy

Picture Galley

A Clean scoot with the :Tins off.

 

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Why not add your own pics !!