Certainly in the UK, as well as in (some) other countries, mechanical vehicles are often referred to as female.
There are apparently several reasons why vehicles get female names; one of which dates back many centuries, another dates back about one century though they are linked. In ancient times ships were named after goddesses and often had their figureheads in the likeness of goddesses. The idea was that the goddess would look favourably on the ship and its journeys. Also, ships carrying cargo including passengers, across the seas, seemed back then as containers carrying precious items, similar to the female of the species carrying a child. Invariably ships were crewed by men.
When motorised vehicles began appearing in numbers at the start of the last century, with very few exceptions, vehicle ownership, and driving, was perceived as the domain of males. Subliminally the gender of ships seems to have been passed on to other vehicles. Add to that the fact that many early production motor vehicles required a lot of love, attention, and understanding lavishing on them. In an era of pre-feminism, way before political correctness became an imposition, it’s not hard to see why male owners of vehicles conferred female traits on their machines.
Even in more enlightened times, certainly in both the UK and USA, motorised vehicles irrespective of the number of wheels they possess are still referred to as female. Gary Dury has two rather splendid ‘ladies’ in his life – one being a 1960 Lambretta LI150, which he has owned since 2009, along with his pristine 1954 Vespa 125 Faro Basso, which he became only the second owner of, from new, in August 2017. His Series 2 Lammy he calls The Lady, while his 50s Vespa he has named The Old Lady.
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Although having had a liking for scooters from early in his teenage years, it wasn’t until 2004 that Gary obtained his first scooter. “Aged 14 I got into northern soul, aged 16 I was going to Wigan Casino allnighters. I’ve always thought scooters were what the cool kids rode. When I was at school and I asked about getting one, my mum wouldn’t let me have one. She said to me: ‘I’ll never let you have one as long as you’re living in this house’. I used to borrow her moped and ride up and down the street on it. Following my divorce, I decided it was time that I started doing the things that I wanted to do and had always wanted to do.
“My first scooter was a 54-plate metallic grey Vespa GT 125, which was, I think the first automatic Vespa model. I wanted a classic scooter so I bought my Series 2 LI Lambretta in June 2009. Originally she was blue and old English white, with a classic summer of ’64 Mod style, including lights, mirrors and the like. She appeared in Scootering as part of the Brighton August Bank Holiday Mod weekend rally article quite a few years back. Ever since I got my Series 2 I’ve called her The Lady, I treat her like a lady, she’s well looked after and I buy her expensive things.
“A couple of years ago me and one of my mates were enjoying Brighton Mod rally, a few Mod style scooters with riders in parkas with Union Jacks and Targets, who dropped in on Brighton after being to the Isle of Wight rally, turned up. We looked at each other, without exchanging a word at that point, though we did both talk about it further down the line, we instinctively decided it was time for a change. I had an engine failure on that Brighton Mod Rally ride out too.
“Soon as I got back from Brighton, off came the lights and mirrors, I stayed with the old English white but changed the paintwork to metallic grey and green with pinstripes myself with help from my mate Dylan. At the same time, the engine was completely rebuilt, as standard, although I had a stronger racing specification crankshaft fitted while the engine was apart, in case I decide to upgrade and update the engine in the future. Over time I have tracked down genuine period embellishers, and the right sort of aftermarket extras. I’ve got rare Vigarno, Ulma, Adore, Desmo and Corrillo items, all in keeping with how I want The Lady to look. Front bumper bar/mudguard embellisher was the first I bought, that took some tracking down, an experience I learned a lot from. At the moment there’s nothing specific I’m looking for to give to The Lady, but, where do you stop. I’ve been toying with hunting down double legshield trim, which is a maybe, for now.”
Despite his first classic scooter being a Series 2 Lambretta, the 50s Wideframe 125cc Vespa 125 Faro Basso, (which simply translates as low light, in reference to the headlight being mounted on the front mudguard), was the scooter Gary had always desired. “I’d always liked the look of the early 1950s Vespas, the early Faro Basso Vespa was probably the most beautiful scooter ever made. It was surprisingly easy to get one; once I decided I really wanted one it didn’t take long at all. It turns out that I’m only the second owner from when she was new back in 1954. The original owner was an Italian woman, she bought it from new in Italy, then when she was 21 she rode it to Paris, where she lived for some time, later she moved to Sweden, she’s now in her 80s and she still lives there.
“Her grandson carried out a restoration and rebuild job on her scooter, which was done a few years back, completed in 2016, ready to sell it on for her. Glyn Williams heard it was available, agreed on a price and bought it to this country, which is when I bought her. It was love at first sight when I saw The Old Lady. I’ve got a bit of footage of me riding her for the first time on my phone, I’ve got a seriously stupid grin on my face riding her up and down! I joined the Vespa Club of Britain for help and advice on getting her UK registered. Which turned out to be surprisingly straightforward, I filled a form in, then a while later a bloke from DVLA came round, checked her over, engine and frame numbers and that sort of thing, after which I was issued an age-related number plate.
“I call her The Old Lady, because, again, (like my Series 2) I treat her like a lady, I’ve bought her lots of expensive gifts, but she is old. All the gifts are rare, expensive genuine period items, Ulma, Vigano, and Adore. The first gifts for the Old Lady were the side panel embellishers, at the moment my favourite genuine period extras are the front mudguard bumper bar with the swan, the horn embellisher I had re-chromed, and the most recent addition at the top of the legshields. I’m awaiting a crest for the top of the headlight to arrive, it’s somewhere in the postal system. I like the various ‘wasp’ covers and the watch holder with a stopwatch, again all of these are period parts. Apart from the twin tailpipe exhaust, the engine is standard, though I intend to get a 12V conversion next. Whether I manage to get that done in time for Brighton Mod Weekend in August remains to be seen. I tend to go to Mod and vintage rallies, meeting and chatting with people, learning from others and maybe giving advice, if I can, too. My favourite rally is Brighton, August Bank Holiday Weekend. It’s a Mod thing, dress smartly have the crack with my mates.
“Brighton Mod rally is my kind of people, nothing wrong with the big nationals and similar rallies but I prefer my creature comforts! I had to move the rear light unit after obtaining the rear rack, as the rack covered the light. It has caused a bit of a niggle with the electrics,
it’s probably something to do with earthing, annoying and needs sorting. If I don’t manage to go to Brighton this year on The Old Lady, I go on The Lady and take The Old Lady next year. The 12V conversion and stuck in the post crest apart, I’m probably going to keep The Old Lady more or less how she is, that said, where do you stop? Who can resist a cheeky look online at any genuine period extras, if there’s something suitable, it is hard to resist’”
What a lovely pair
Gary is proud of his scooters. In the huge spectrum of differing styles of scooters, Gary’s Lambretta and Vespa both capture the very essence of times gone by. Tasteful and subtle genuine extras enhancing, accentuating and amplifying (visually) the lines and curves of two vastly different Italian classics. No matter what style of scooter appeals to the individual taste, most will appreciate that Gary’s brace are sexy looking scooters, truly things of beauty. No wonder Gary regards his vintage Lammy and Vep as ladies; they are of Italian thoroughbred stock, they can at times be a touch temperamental, and respond favourably to having an abundance of loving care lavished upon them.
Name: Gary Drury
Job: Wood machinist, and, in my leisure time, I was a host at Burnley rare soul all-nighter until it closed down. I’m still a host at Soul Funk-Tion all-nighters.
Scooter club & town: I’m not in a scooter club as such now, I have a close group of scooter friends who ride regularly. When I first started to ride I was in the Amery Club Willenhall Scooter club for a few years.
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: From the age of 14 I was into northern soul, at the age of 16 I went to Wigan Casino. I have always thought scooters were what the cool kids rode. When I was at school my mum would never let me have one (in her words: “I’ll never let you have one as long as you’re living in this house”), so I used to pinch my mum’s moped and ride up the street on that when I was at school.
What was your first scooter: After my divorce, I decided it was time I did things in life I could now do. I bought my first Vespa GT 125 54-plate (2004) in metallic grey. It was the first automatic series they bought out.
What is your favourite style of custom scooter: Mod/vintage.
First rally or event: Beat the Bikers in Matlock the same year as I had my first scooter.
Favourite and worst rally/event: Favourite is Brighton August bank holiday Mod Weekend – Because ‘it’s a mod thing’. It’s relaxed, all about the scooters and dressing up smart as well as having a crack with the lads. In the evening there’s a lot of entertainment to choose from. All about the Mod scene which I’m into. Worst was London this year, Buckingham Palace ride out – organisation was poor, as well as me and one other mate breaking down due to scooters overheating.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: From my house to Chester, to Wales and over Horseshoe Pass to Ironbridge and home again. Barmouth from home was also a big one.
What do you like about rallies/events: The rallies I go to (Mod and vintage scooters) meeting new people, seeing old friends, looking at what scooters turn up. Chatting with people and learning from others and offering advice if I can. The dress code – smart.
What do you dislike about rallies/events: Other rallies’ dress codes are jeans n’greens, and camo. It’s about campingand beer tents. It’s not that I dislikethese sorts of rallies or people for anyparticular reason, it’s a different scooterculture, and I like my comforts.
Name of scooter & reason: I call her The Lady because I treat her like a lady. Always buying her expensive things and well looked after.
Scooter model: Lambretta Series 2 LI 150cc 1960 Italian import.
Date purchased & cost: June 2009 £2160.
The inspiration for the project: Love of the Mod scene and the scooters.
Time to build & by who: Changed the colour scheme from blue and old English white to metallic green and metallic silver but kept the old English white, added hand pinstripes all about two years ago. At the same time, I had a total engine rebuild due to engine failure at Brighton Mod rally ride out. Spray job I did with my mate Dylan at work.
Describe engine performance, power delivery, and scooter handling: Everything is standard, apart from the racing spec crankshaft. Starts first kick every time, always has done.
Are there any other unique details we have missed: Embellishers all period, Vigano Ulma, Adore, Carrillo, Desmo.
Paintwork & murals done by: Myself and mate Dylan at work.
Overall cost: Including all the embellishers I have spent easily around £5000.
Is there anyone you wish to thank: Paul Godfree, Daz Pritchard, Carl Godfree, Michael Sifleet, Dylan, Dave Porter, Glyn Preece and John Greenhough.
Name of scooter & reason: Vespa 125 Faro Basso 1954 I call her The Old Lady because again treated like a lady, bought expensive gifts but she’s old.
Scooter model: Vespa 125cc Faro Basso 1954.
Date purchased & cost: August 2017 £5000.
The inspiration for the project: Always thought it was the most beautiful scooter made.
Time to build & by who: It was imported from Sweden and was restored two years previous. Still an ongoing project. 12V conversion next.
Describe engine performance, power delivery and scooter handling: Power delivery… gets there eventually. It isn’t built for speed. The rise is very comfortable.
Are there any other unique details we have missed: Embellishers and rack all original period. Adore, Ulma, Vigano. I’m only the second owner from new. The original owner is an Italian woman that bought it in Italy. When she was 21 she rode it to Paris where she lived for a while and later on in life moved to Sweden where she still lives now, in her 80s. Her grandson restored it for her to sell on. Glyn Williams bought it and imported it to this country which is when I bought it.
Overall cost: Since I have bought her I have spent another £3500 on her.
Is there anyone you wish to thank: Glyn Williams, Paul Godfree, Daz Pritchard, Carl Godfree, Dave Porter.
Words & Photographs: Sarge
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