Words: Stu Smith | Photographs: Gary Chapman
Dave Gibbons’s street-racer ‘Nasty’ looks the part. The theme of the scooter was driven by his love of the band Prodigy, whose name suggests something of extraordinary and unnatural wonder.
I asked Dave how he got into scooters. “I was about fourteen years old. I lived in Essex along the A13 which, at the time, was the main route to the famous Southend Rally. Back in the day, all the Hornchurch/East London boys used to stop at the Tarpot pub in Benfleet.
“When I was doing my paper round I saw all the scoots and thought, ‘I wanna bit of this’. Next stop for me was the Ilford Palais Mod all-dayers, and Leigh Com Mod nights on a Friday night in Leigh-on-Sea, which were great fun.”
Where it all began
Initially, Dave was going to do a Bobby Moore-themed street-racer, but due to certain limitations he went off the idea. Dave explained that the inspiration for ‘Nasty’ came from Mick Gauntlet’s ‘Alien’-themed Lambretta, named ‘Steve’.
“I’ve always loved street-racers and a little while back through my love of the band, Prodigy, I built my first PX street-racer called ‘Firestarter’, which my son, Jamie, now rides. Nasty is a step up from that, and it’s also my favourite Prodigy tune. The main objective with Nasty was that I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want to have a custom scoot, which looked like most street-racers.
“In the build process I looked at a lot of other street-racers. I took bits of ideas from each scoot and added my own personal touches, which helped me create the unique style I was after with Nasty.”
Achieving the ‘Nasty’ look
The scooter is based on a Vespa PX, which was chopped slightly when Dave bought it, and has a T5 front mudguard. Having acquired the scooter and to begin modifying it into the ‘Nasty’ look, the whole frame, panels and tool box were trimmed down by three-quarters of an inch.
The frame and panels were de-seamed and the floor was fabricated with a skirt around, which was an idea Dave got from the appearance of Lambretta footboards.
The front spoiler is based around a T5 item, and the idea for the frenched-in indicators and back light was taken from Dave’s previous Prodigy-themed scooter, ‘Firestarter’, and the similarly subtly blended-in mesh air-vents at the front of the side panels add to the street-racer feel.
The flywheel cover is a one-off fabricated item, which has a Prodigy logo of an ant laser cut into it, and there is barbed wire around the inner edge of the wheel rims, which adds an aggressive tone. The drop handlebars heat up the intimidating street-racer looks, and add momentum to the whole appearance.
In order to get the paintwork spot on, Dave commissioned John Spurgeon to complete the work. “I didn’t want to rush it, as I had to get the look right so I did loads of drawings, which John worked from. His face was a picture when I first took the frame and panels in to him, but in the end he added his own twist to the base paint, which worked in well with the airbrushing I wanted.”
The wolf on the side panels appears in the Nasty music video, and John’s secretly dropped in a set of crossed hammers on one of the speakers.
Within the paintwork there are also little ants, which only come out when the sun hits the scooter and give an enticing feel. There are also other little ad hoc pieces within the main base paint, which again you only see when the sun hits the scooter.
The final outcome of John Spurgeon’s artwork is fantastic. It skilfully, and with an element of curiosity, subconsciously draws you into the detail. It succeeds in not only giving Nasty a true street-racer custom look, but it also sets the onlooker up with an immersive experience of the whole ethos of Nasty.
Stu at SG Engineering completed the engine work. Dave explained that Nasty’s engine was Stu’s first 230 engine, and it was given the full works.
It runs on a Polini barrel with a Malossi piston, a 62mm crank with new uprated webs, a 30mm Dellorto carb’ with RD reeds, a SIP exhaust and a standard gearbox assisted by a T5 fourth gear. I asked Dave what type of performance he was seeking to achieve with this set up.
“I wanted Stu to build the engine for touring speed. It’s revvy at the bottom and you need to hold the front end down when you give it plenty of throttle low down. The power band kicks in and it’ll hold nicely at the top end.
“You will have noticed the NOS bottle under the side panel. There’s a story behind that. I couldn’t fit a spare wheel under the side panel, which left that side looking bare, and I needed something to fill the space.
“I remembered that Stu had a NOS bottle fitted to the side of his PX and for ages he wouldn’t tell me what it was for, but then gave in and told me that it was a spare fuel tank. Great idea and job done – space filled!”
Getting the exhaust to fit was one of the main engineering challenges faced by Dave.
“The modified frame meant that it needed to be re-shaped to fit under the floor, which also meant that the stand had to be re-shaped to fit alongside the exhaust and back end of the floor. With a little time, effort and planning, however, we eventually got it sorted and everything ended up fitting perfectly.”
With all the work completed, Dave reckons the top speed to be around 80mph, with a cruising speed of around 70mph.
“I have to say, Stu was amazing for all his assistance, knowledge and advice, but most of all for letting me work in his workshop with him on the build. I wanted to be part of it and for it not to be just a ‘bought off the shelf’ custom build.”
I asked Dave if he had plans for any future developments to Nasty. “Yes, loads of mirrors and lights. Only joking! Maybe some more engine work from SG, now that Stu’s engines have moved on a bit.
“I’m also thinking about adding a wide back wheel conversion, which I had this on Firestarter and it really sets the scoot’ off.”
Nasty’s looks are intimidating and its street presence is exciting, but the unique thing about Nasty is that its looks leave a lasting impression, which is a clear confirmation that the main objective of the build Dave was seeking to achieve has been accomplished.
On the whole, Nasty took Dave around three years to complete. The time and effort he’s put into achieving the unique style and specifications he was after have definitely paid off, giving it the edge on top of its sharp street-racer looks.
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