We’ve seen some unusual things here at Scootering, but Dystopia, and its accompanying photoshoot set a new standard.
Sometimes, even when life seems good, it can be a very short-lived experience before things change for the worse. It’s not being pessimistic or anything like that just the daily trials and
tribulations of modern living. With all the troubles that constantly seem to happen around the world, it’s almost impossible to get away from it all. What about the future though, will that be any better? Well, we can only speculate on what might happen. Will we live in happily in utopia or disharmony in dystopia; cue a theme for a custom scooter…
Plenty of time to get it right
The idea of a custom scooter has been going round in Allan Tait’s head for years and years. Like so many of us who were about and witnessed the custom scooter scene that has played out since the 1980s, ideas are always plentiful. Finally deciding that it was his time to build one the decision that needed to be made was what idea he could base it around. For Allan, it needed to something never done before or at least a play on an idea from a new angle. Seeing the custom Lambretta ‘Anima Mundi’ created by Colin Fitzgerald proved to be was all the inspiration he needed.
Allan has been a friend of Colin’s for several years and often pops around for a chat to see what his latest creation is. That meant when he finally got round to starting his project Colin was going to be the first choice when it came to painting the scooter. It was during many of these meetings that discussions with him eventually got the ball rolling. ‘Anima Mundi’ a Lambretta built by Colin (Scootering issue 256) had derived its inspiration from looking at pictures by American artist Mark Ryden. Colin’s idea was that Allen could build a sister machine that would complement it.
Upon researching the idea further, Allan came across another American artist by the name of Mark Bryan who was taking a satirical look at society as it is today. The plan was to interpret these ideas by creating a series of images around the bodywork to tell the story. The images were carefully selected that would laugh at today’s world and possibly give a glimpse into what it will be like in the future. From there Dystopia was born, all that was now required was for it to be created.
A story to be told
Laying out this type of artwork like so many other custom scooters would require a Lambretta GP and so an SIL Lambretta was purchased for the project. A base colour of blue was chosen as the ideal backdrop on which to sit the artwork. The next problem was where exactly to position the actual ones that were chosen. It was decided that the landscape and more detailed images would need a much wider area such as the side panels or front of the leg shields. The smaller ones could take up a position in smaller areas such as the head set-top, toolbox or the rear of the frame behind the seat.
As each image told its own story it was imperative that none of them overlapped or this would only confuse things. Once each image had its selected area chosen, Colin could weave his magic with the airbrush. It took quite a while for the paint to be completed as Colin had a considerable amount of other work to do during the intervening months. Over time he carefully produced each panel and part of the bodywork with amazing precision to create a masterpiece.
Don’t overcrowd things
Scooter customization as we know has been around for a good while now and has gone down many routes. When the likes of Dazzle first burst on to the scene it set new standards. Not only was there amazing artwork but also great engineering and fabrication of components, not forgetting all the intricate engraving. It set a benchmark that future creations would follow, many of them a vast swathe of intricate design. Don’t get me wrong they were unique and great to look at but sometimes so much was going on it was difficult to understand the actual theme of the scooter.
This style of customization still exists and always will but there does seem to have been a shift to the less-is-more concept, certainly over recent years. Perhaps it’s down to airbrush and paint technology that didn’t exist back then that now allows more detail to be produced in the artwork. The result of all this is many creations now solely focusing on the theme and less so on all the extras. Allen’s scooter takes this very approach and though there is some chrome work and the odd bit of engineering, such as the petrol and fuel taps, there is not much else. As a result you tend to concentrate purely on the images of the artwork. It’s important though as this scooter tells a story and anything that would deviate you away from it stops it from working. If there was too much else going on it would be a bit like putting a book down and forgetting which page you were on when you returned back to it.
The engine and internals follow the same path of not going too over the top. Based on the ever-reliable Mugello kit, this being a 225cc version, it has been ported by Allen himself. It breathes through a 28mm Dellorto carburettor and the gas is exited by a JL3 curly expansion pipe. Top speed will be approaching the 80mph mark but in all honesty, that’s all this scooter needs. With power in the moderate range of today’s possibilities the clutch remains standard and is fitted with a Li gearbox to suit. This should ensure great reliability while at the same time it won’t be a petrol guzzler.
The front brake is disc operated but in the traditional style and even uses a cable as opposed to a hydraulic set up, although a reverse pull option may help with it being more efficient. Equipped with BGM front dampers they are more than capable of absorbing all the force the traditional disc will ever put through them. There is an SIP speedometer fitted but that is the sum total of fancy extras. The only other addition is a leg shield toolbox which acts as the perfect space for one of the logos. As for the seat, well that was Allen’s biggest nightmare of the whole project.
He knew exactly what he wanted but when it came to tracking one down that was a real problem. Covered in plain black apart from a narrow chrome strip around the edge its low-level shape doesn’t deter you away from what you are supposed to be looking at. Again, the idea was to hide away a necessary item and not allow it to stand out too much and look conspicuous.
When interviewing Allen about the project he was keen to point out what he has created may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Though some will like how it’s done others won’t a bit, like the old Marmite scenario. What’s more important to him though is that whether you like it or not it will definitely get you thinking. There are seven images in total, each one with their own satirical and distinctive take on how the world is now or possibly will be in the future, No matter which one you look at you can’t but help think yes, that’s exactly right, or it might be in times to come.
Allen himself is very pleased with the project and rightly so. He should be very proud of what he has achieved. There are two ways of looking at this scooter though, which isn’t always the case. Firstly the workmanship not only in Colin Fitzgerald’s detailed artwork but also the build quality by both him and Allen. Secondly the story it tells, which even though you don’t realise it unwittingly lures you in. After you walk away from looking at it you can’t help but keep think of the images and their meaning. In my mind, that means this custom scooter is not only unique but also thought-provoking too and has achieved what it set out to do in the first place, perhaps even more than that.
Allen said that the whole project from start to finish had taken two years to complete. Asked if it will be altered at a later date his reply was: “I think Dystopia will evolve even further.” Judging by that comment it sounds like he plans to add to it in the future. If the world continues like it is at the moment and in years to come then he might need a whole fleet of machines for all the images required. In creating Dystopia, Allen has left us with a never-ending question and one that can never be fully answered. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
Name: Allan Tait
Scooter club & town: No club/Northallerton.
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: First interest taken was when I was 12 or 13 and went to York for the day and saw scooters buzzing around for the first time! Ah, the sound and smell – addictive or what!
What was your first scooter: Jet 200 (I was 16), £70.
What is your favourite scooter model: Lambretta S1.
First rally or event: Scarborough 1980.
How did you get there: Jet 200, still only 16!
Any stories: Yeah, after I went to Skegness rally a couple of months later (still 16) I got caught by the police, lol… no licence, no insurance. I changed the date in the MOT (hey, I couldn’t see a problem with it). But I’m happy to inform all that I had road tax, well about three days left! I even gave a false name and they still got me… fined £360 and six points, but worth it, lol.
Favourite and worst rally/event: Went to the IoW last year and had a brilliant weekend. The worst I ever went to was many years ago to Whitley Bay. Loads of cops, no pubs open (the bad old days).
Funniest experience with a scooter: Getting the piss taken out of me for always running out of fuel (people have been known to nick it out of your tank, you know!).
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: Weymouth.
What do you like about rallies/events: Happy faces and seeing the effort that people put into their scoots.
What do you dislike about rallies/events: People who wake up in the early hours of the morning and start up their scoots when you’re trying to sleep off the beer.
What’s your favourite Scootering magazine feature: The letters page and Show Us Your Scoots.
Name of scooter & reason: Dystopia.
A satirical look at the world of today.
The names of the artworks are…
Who Would Jesus Bomb — side panel.
Bad Buddha — side panel.
Trumpanzie — inside leggies toolbox.
Beating the Drum — frame toolbox.
The Church of Atomic Purification — back of frame loop.
The Neighbour — front of leggies.
Punchbot — headset.
Scooter model: SIL GP200.
Date purchased & cost: July 2014, £1800.
Inspiration for project: Building a custom scooter is something I always wanted to do. Especially after seeing the scooters I couldn’t afford when I was young.
Time to build & by who: Over the last two years. Built by myself and Colin Fitzgerald.
Any specialised parts or frame mods: Hunted high and low for the seat (Soulscooter). Horn casting badge nuclear, by Rich Willouby (Northallerton) choke and petrol levers by Paul English (Darlington).
Engine spec: Mugello 225. Crank: MEC. Carb: 28 Dellorto. Exhaust: JL 3 curly. Clutch: Standard. Gearbox: Li 150.
Porting work by: Myself.
Are there any other unique details we have missed: The seat is like trying to buy hens’ teeth. This scooter is, I feel, a Marmite experience for people. They will either love it or not. I just like the idea that people will scatch their heads and think yeah!
Paintwork & murals done by: Colin Fitzgerald at Garage Artwerks (also a big thank you to Mark Bryan).
Is there anything still to add to the scoot: Yes as time goes by I think Dystopia will evolve further. In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently: No. I enjoyed every minute of this creation.
Is there anyone you wish to thank: A big thank you to Colin Fitzgerald for his brilliant artwork and advice and humour. Mark Bryan for his amazing art (California). Rich Willouby and Paul English for the metal work. Quality chrome. Cambridge Lambretta for advice on the motor.
Words: Stu Owen
Photographs: Gary Chapman
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