When Vespa and Lambretta dominate scooters sales in Europe in the 1960s, the world was more familiar with both of these brands. So dominant, two names that are considered legendary without competitors. In fact, in reality, many scooter makers competitors, particularly from Germany and UK, which tried to lunge for the delicious taste the world's scooter markets at the time. On this occasion we will discuss 10 classic scooters from the UK.
An old scooter exhibition organized by Coventry Transport Museum under the title ScooterMania, which held on October 2012 to March 2013 show the names of British-made scooter ever victorious. Some of the names appear, evoke a memory. Call it DMW, DKR, Dunkley, and Excelsior. Some we've heard, like Triumph, BSA, Ambassador, Dayton, to Raleigh, who was also never made the scooters.
All old scooter in the exhibition are the property of Robin Spalding, a fan and collector of the Britain old bikes. He also records some scooter collection complete with a detailed explanation on the British Scooters website. Here are 10 scooters ever made in UK,
10. Swallow Gadabout
The Swallow Gadabout motor scooter was made by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company of Walsall, Staffordshire, from November 1946 until September 1951. It was designed by Frank Rainbow who was given the brief to produce a Villiers powered machine which could be produced using a minimum of tooling and equipment. The very strong ladder chassis was formed in Wales by Tube Investments, who produced the Swallow sidecar chassis and later the Swallow Doretti sportscar chassis.
|1948 Swallow Gadabout. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
The first series machines relied upon an air dam under the steel floor to duct air to the Villiers 9D 122cc engine. The bodywork was all steel, access to the tank, tap and tools being under the seat and Villiers direct lighting was used. Billed as the "British Two-wheeler for Mr & Mrs Everyman", the Gadabout was a successful machine and was adopted by public bodies including the Staffordshire Constabulary as a lightweight runabout. Some 2,000 were sold in all and survivors are now relatively rare and sought after.
9. Brockhouse Corgi
The little Brockhouse Corgi scooter was made by Brockhouse Engineering (Southport) Ltd., it was developed from the World War Two paratroopers scooter known as the Welbike. The Corgi had a 98cc Excelsior engine, and started as a single speed machine with rigid suspension and no kickstart.
|1948 Brockhouse Corgi. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
Small sidecars were available for the Corgi for carrying luggage and goods for the small trader. The Corgi was improved through its life and in 1951 the MK IV had front suspension, a two speed gearbox and protective legshields.
8. Douglas Vespa
The Italian Piaggio Vespa was made under licence by the British Douglas Motorcycle Company from 1951 to1965. The scooter on show is a 1951 125cc 2L2 model know affectionately as a rod model due to the handlebar rods controlling the 3 speed gearbox.
|1951 Douglas Vespa. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
The Douglas Vespa badge on the legshields has been added at a later date – they were initially sold with only the Vespa name. Douglas later made a 150cc model but the sports Vespa GS was always an Italian import.
7. DKR Defiant
The DKR Defiant was made by DKR Scooters Ltd of Wolverhampton. Their first scooter was a Dove made in 1957 with a 150cc Villiers engine. This was the scooter designed by Mr Cyril Kieft based on the German Hercules and made in cooperation with Willenhall Motor Radiators of Wolverhampton.
|1959 DKR Defiant. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
The Defiant model come out in 1958 with a Villiers 200cc engine and an electric start, and at the year end the Manx was produced with the 250cc twin engine. These models were made until 1961 when DKR announced their new Capella scooter.
The Piatti scooter was designed by the Italian Vincenti Piatti who had previously designed the Mini-Motor cyclemotor. It was made under licence in England by Cyclemaster of Byfleet, Surrey. The scooter has an unusual design with the works enclosed in what looked like an upside down bathtub. It had a 125cc engine with a 3 speed gearbox that pivoted with the rear suspension.
|Piatti scooter. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
5. Dayton Albatross
Dayton Albatross scooters were made by the Dayton Cycle Company Ltd. from 1956 to 1960. Their large scooters were aimed at both keen scooterists and motorcycle riders. The first Albatross had an air cooled Villiers 225cc engine with a engine cooling tunnel between the rider’s legs.
|1958 Dayton Continental Twin. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
In 1957 a second model was introduced with the new Villiers 250cc twin cylinder engine, a little later the scooters were given new front legshields and mudguard and called the Dayton Continental.
4. Sun Wasp
The Sun Wasp scooter was made by the Sun Cycle & Fitting Company of Birmingham who also made bicycles, motorcycles and the Geni scooter. The Wasp was announced in 1959 with a Villiers 175cc engine and a three speed gearbox. The scooter was made in cooperation with the Dayton and Panther companies.
|1960 Sun Wasp. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
The Wasp was designed with the ladies in mind with a low seat height, narrow footboards and a two side by side toe pedal gear change instead of the normal heel and toe. The cost of this 1960 Wasp was £182.
Phoenix scooters were designed and manufactured by Ex-TT motorcycle rider Ernie Barrett from 1956 to 1964. The first scooter made was a metal bodied machine with a Villiers 150cc engine and a 3 speed gearbox. The company policy was to build one machine using a range of Villiers engines – eventually from 98cc to the largest at 325cc.
|1957 Phoenix 150 cc scooter. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
As time progressed the scooters were gradually changed from all steel bodies to bodies made completely of glass-fibre. The scooters did well in the Isle of Man scooter rallies with Ernie Barrett taking his own works team to such events.
2. Triumph Tigress
The Triumph Tigress scooter was made by the Triumph Engineering Company part of the BSA Group, Birmingham. As with the BSA Sunbeam the scooter was available with a 250cc four-stroke or a 175cc two-stroke engine.
|1959 Triumph Tigres 175 cc scooter. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|
The 250cc engine could be purchased with an electric start. Initially made in the Triumph Shell Blue Sheen the scooter was later sold in a number of two-tone colours. Both the Triumph and BSA scooters were produce until 1965.
1. Excelsior Monarch MK II
Excelsior scooter was announced in June 1960 for production on the 1st July. The scooter was called the Monarch MKII and as the Scooter and Three Wheeler magazine stated 'It’s all by Excelsior this time’ and 'Glass Fibre for a new British Scooter'.
|Excelsior Monarch MK II. (Picture from: http://www.britishscooters.com/)|