Although the scooter scene and northern soul scene are independent entities, they have been and still are inextricably intertwined.
Of course, not every scooterist has a taste for northern soul, nor for that matter does every soulie have a liking for scooters. The fact is that the northern soul scene evolved from the original Mods of the 60s, where clubs such as The Scene in London and Manchester’s Twisted Wheel laid down the blueprint for what would eventually become the original underground dance scene. Andy Impey, in his mid-teens, frequented Howard Mallett Soul Club as well as events promoted under the East Anglia Soul Club. This is where his lifelong love of northern soul music began. As the Mod revival arrived Andy was drawn into the excitement of that uprising, sparking an interest in Lambretta scooters. Both northern soul and scooters have been an integral part of his life for nigh on 40 years.
Andy’s personal taste in custom scooters is full blown, of the ridden not hidden variety. No surprise then that his first custom Lambretta, which has been a work in progress machine since 2004, is northern soul themed. And is in every sense of the word a full blown custom job. Paint and murals by John Spurgeon, engraving and brightwork courtesy of the late great Pete Robinson, and the most recent upgrade a 250cc Performance Tuning motor, tailor-made by Charlie Edmonds. This is a proper full blown custom in every sense!
Andy collects original rare soul 45s and dabbles at times doing a bit of DJing, strictly off original vinyl — no reissues, bootlegs or copies. The real deal, exactly as it should be. His favourite all time northern soul record is a genuine rarity; a double-sider on the obscure Tie imprint by John And The Weirdest. First of the two sides to gain exposure being Can’t Get Over These Memories, initially a big spin for Richard Searling during the last few years of Wigan Casino’s reign as number one all-nighter. The title of that sought after record, which due its scarcity is a holy grail 45 these days, is what he chose to name his full blown custom Lambretta in tribute to. A number of big ticket northern soul labels adorn the panel and bodywork. Some Andy owns, others have a particular significance.
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“The Tamangoes have always been a personal favourite, as have both Mel Britt and Pat Lewis,” said Andy. “Robbie Lawson’s Burning Sensation is on there as it was the first rare original to hit the £1000 price tag. Adams Apples I think always looks nice as a yellow demo. I always have and still do buy rare originals, but so far a John And The Weirdest has eluded me! Maybe now, as Can’t Get Over These Memories, a 12 plus year project has been completed, I might be able to find an original. Though the way prices on rare records have been spiralling of late, even if one does come up for sale it could prove to be beyond my bank balance.”
Can’t Get Over These Memories, at a relatively early stage in its evolution, was featured in Scootering back in August 2006. It was bought as a present by his other half in 2000 and Andy spent the next four years creating a full blown custom Lammy to his own specifications. It incorporates his love of northern soul, as well as reproductions of classic 45 labels, and John Spurgeon also provided mural likenesses of selected soul stars. Dean Parrish, the northern soul artist responsible for Wigan Casino’s closing record, I’m On My Way, signed the leg shields under his likeness at Hemsby 2005. For engraving, chrome and other brightwork, Andy commissioned the talents of Pete Robinson. “As well as being known for his custom scooters and engraving, Pete was a fellow soul boy. He not only collected records, he was a well-known DJ on the soul scene too and he promoted his own all-nighters at the Marrs Bar in Worcester. Who better to provide the engraving? Some of Pete’s engraving work is obvious, such as the Wigan Casino, 6T’s Rhythm n Soul (100 club all-nighters) membership card and Twisted Wheel logos on the exhaust tail pipe, and the scooters name, along with classic label logos on the headset. Other examples are less so and require closer attention. Engraved images of Jackie Wilson and Major Lance along with one of their song titles on the half floorboards, the ‘keep the faith’ fists as choke and fuel levers for instance. Even now when I’m cleaning the brightwork I notice another soul inclined subtlety that Pete has engraved! While it was good having my scooter in Scootering in 2006, it was a bit early as it was unfinished. John Spurgeon has since added murals of soul club patches of places important to me on the mudguard. I had Arin Demain, Larry Clinton and Yvonne Vernee added to the floorboards. I’d won various trophies up till that point, but never best paint. Those additions helped on that score.”
As with his perception of DJing the right way, off original vinyl, Andy has a similar outlook regarding his full blown custom: “Ridden, not hidden is the only way to be! Last year I did every National on ‘Memories! I’ve just got back from the loW rally and picked up a couple of stone chips on the paintwork, so I spent a few hours repairing them with touch up paint.”
When last featured, this scooter had a 186cc Imola kit; when the side case developed a crack, and the engine was getting tired Andy had both replaced. “Don Blocksidge did me a new side casing, I went to Charlie at Performance Tuning, told him I wanted a reliable and quick 250 and gave him a free hand. As far as I’m concerned it’s finally finished.”
Full blown custom scoots are few and far between these days compared to the halcyon 80s. And given its name, Andy’s stunning scooter is rather apt.
MAN & MACHINE
Name: Andy Impey
Scooter club: Innocents Scooter Club, Cambridge.
When did you first become interested in scooters: 1978 Mod revival.
What is your favourite style of custom scooter: Full blown ridden.
First rally or event: Yarmouth early 80s.
How did you get there: Rode with group of mate – it took forever.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: 2006 Euro Lambretta, France – 1200 mile round trip with Ray & Scott.
Name of scooter & reason: Can’t Get Over These Memories (top tune).
Scooter model: Li150.
Inspiration: I always wanted a full blown custom and I love northern soul.
Engine spec: Performance tuning 250cc engine, Mugello Mk3 bored to 71mm, re-plated and ported to fast-road tune spec with boost port modification, old school 90s reed manifold, 350YPVS reedblock and PT works Super Monza intake manifold. Dellorto 34mm carb with powerjet fitted, PT works 62 x 115 full circle crank, crankcase porting, Monza head (PT modified), PT works ignition unit, PT works CNC eccentric cones, mounts & rear suspension. JL exhaust, dyno done by Charlie.
Are there any other unique details we have missed: Scooter was signed by Dean Parrish at Hemsby 2005.
Paintwork & murals don by: John Spurgeon.
Engraving done by: The late great Pete Robinson (still find the little details when cleaning).
Do you have any advice or tech tips for anyone starting a project: Build it for yourself and not for other people.
Is there anyone you wish to thank: My wife Sally for putting up with me, Charlie Edmonds (Performance Tuning) & Tony B for engine. All my mates who I ride with.
Photography: Gary Chapman
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