Scootering classics: Torque of the Town

For over 30 years it’s been a Maca classic but now his iconic DTC theme has been turned on its head…

Anyone who has been interested in the Lambretta street racer scene over the last few decades will no doubt be aware of the DTC theme. Created by Maca in the 1980s he has produced a countless number of Lambrettas all in the same style, not to mention a whole raft of replicas which have paid respect to the legendary design. For the first time, all this has been thrown out of the window and the red, white and blue colours have been radically changed, all with his permission of course.

Forty years in the making

When trying to come up with new ideas for a scooter both in the design and layout it can be very difficult and this was the problem that faced Dene Longstaff. No stranger to the scooter scene, Dene was first inducted into it by way of a Vespa Primavera 125 even if he didn’t have a licence. This has given him plenty of time to ponder — 40 years to be exact, since it was 1978 and the mod revival that sparked his scootering journey into life. Though he started out on a Vespa like many of us do, his real love was for the Lambretta.

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His favourite models were the SX or GP but as custom scooters began to catch his eye the GP was his real desired choice. Though Lambrettas with custom artwork gained his attention with ‘Sign of the Snake’ being one of his favourites, Dene was far more interested in the emerging street racer scene. Though DTC examples had been around for a good few years it was the ‘Rosa Bianca’ GP that Maca produced in the mid-1980s that really caught his attention. Dene himself openly admits to owning a couple of replica examples but had the sole intention of owning one painted by
the man himself one day.

Talk the torque

‘Torque of the Town,’ a Maca take on the Rosa Bianca style was originally owned by a member of the Darlington scooter club — the same club that Dene was a member of. At one point he had the option of buying it but for some reason or another didn’t take up the opportunity. For years it has always played on his mind that he hadn’t bought it so he made it a goal to get one done himself. Now the in present day it has become a reality and Dene’s version of Torque of the Town is complete.

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The chrome work offsets against the metallic paintwork in stunning style.

The problem is when taking a scheme that has already been created, however long ago, yours will always be a replica even if it was done by the person who painted it originally. Dene now had the unenviable task of putting his own mark on the design and making it his but without radically changing things.

The beautifully crafted hydraulic brake housing and lever displaying the perfection on this build.

Colours of my mind

Building a Lambretta street racer now will always be different to one of the past as technology has moved on even in the Lambretta world. Many of the components that Dene has used wouldn’t have been available back then so his version of Torque of the town was never going to be exactly the same. The problem is the majority of us look at the paint scheme rather than what’s underneath the panels as it were, so it was going to be difficult to shy away from the past.

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Still displaying the Rosa Bianca logo albeit surrounded by different colours to what we would normally expect.

Determined to succeed, he came up with the idea of leaving the design and layout the same but changing the colours used. Dare I use that horrendous cliché ‘putting a twist on it’? But that’s exactly what Dene has done. Usually when someone uses that phrase the result is rather dull and boring but in this case, it’s defiantly not. Though the white colour is still the same and used like the original as a divide between the main colours, those have been replaced by a purple and gold metallic instead. By using metallic it has further enhanced both colours and made them stand out even more.

Fitted with a Snetterton seat, the perfect complement to a Lambretta street racer.

Obviously the scheme now endorses Dene’s name and own unique number but otherwise, the rest of it remains the classic Rosa Bianca layout. The result is a rather stunning creation and one that plays on your thinking. For years and years, we have seen Maca’s take on it and the many copies all using the same red, white and blue colours programmed into our minds. Now by changing two of those colours — the red and the blue — and by adding a metal flake to them, a total transformation happens. Though the design is the same it looks totally new and unique like it’s never been done before. How many times have we listened to a hit record that we all know only for someone to change the way it’s performed and make it sound totally different? That’s the cleverness of it, taking something that is so well known but deceiving our minds just by making a subtle change. That was Dene’s philosophy behind what he was trying to achieve and he has executed it perfectly.

So what does the man who has painted the design so many times before think of it all? Maca explained that he always gives the customer the option to choose whichever colours they like with any paint job he is commissioned to do. In the case of the Rosa Bianca design, he highlighted that no one had ever thought of changing the colours until now. He likes what Dene has chosen and thinks they go well together adding that it makes it look totally different and refreshing.

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The classic Maca design we all know and love seen in a new light.

Not over the top

When a street racer has such a bright stand-out paint job like this usually the rest of the scooter is laden with just about every conceivable all singing and dancing extra to complement it. Sometimes though that can be too much and detract from what the overall look and effect are really about. Luckily Dene hasn’t gone down that route and has been rather careful in his approach to this aspect of the build.

The engine has gone down the lines of the traditional TS1 route. A race crank by local lad Scotty, Mikuni TMX 35, Devtour exhaust, AF clutch and Li150 gearbox with uprated sprockets. While it gives a good return of performance it’s nothing too over the top and should ensure good reliability, which is required as Dene intends to use it rather a lot. The front end set up has the use of an Italian disc brake utilising a Nissin GSXR 750 caliper expertly crafted by Stewart Westgarth providing ample stopping power.

A nice clean uncluttered look with the side panels removed.

The engine casing is powder-coated silver, which was done by Trevor at Midas Touch as well as the chroming with some additional chrome work by Carl Russell. The majority of the metalwork underneath the panels is chrome along with the forks, hubs, and rims, which always offset beautifully against metal flake paintwork. There is the odd use here and there of some more modern trick parts such as the brake and clutch levers and a SIP speedo but that’s about it. The whole thing is finished off with a traditional black Snetterton seat which is essential equipment on any Lambretta street racer. There isn’t even a long range tank fitted, just a standard one — a real throwback to the 1980s.

Patience is a virtue

The whole project was put together by Dene himself from the dry build in the beginning to signing it off at the end. In all, it took him a total of 18 months from start to finish but there have been times when he was ready to chuck a hammer or just about anything that came to hand at it. It was the usual problem of poor fitting which happens even after a dry build on many a Lambretta project. Dene openly admits to having little patience in this area but thanks are due to his wife Marie who calmed him down every time there was a problem. Her soothing nature allowed him to push on finishing the whole thing off in exemplary style.

What Dene has produced is something totally unique even though it’s using a tried and tested formula. He has been clever by interpreting it in a different way just by using a different colour choice. The idea of owning a DTC Lambretta was the only option he was ever going to consider but if he had gone down the traditional route of colours most wouldn’t have given it a second look. Now he has created something vibrant and refreshing, giving a new slant perhaps on how the street racer style can be achieved in the future.

OWNER DETAILS

Name: Dene Longstaff
Job: Decorator.
Scooter club: Darlington Scooter Club.
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: First interest in ‘78/’79 during the Mod revival, God that sounds a long time ago.
What was your first scooter: First scooter a Vespa 125 Primavera – used to ride around the streets with no licence, well you could in them days.
First rally or event: Scarborough, on the bus I was 14. Got butchered off me man n’ dad when I got back as it had been on the news and there’d been trouble.
Funniest experience with a scooter: Funniest experience was coming back from Colwyn Bay back in the Eighties – no mobile phones or breakdown recovery in them days. Had a great weekend and set back off on the Sunday in torrential rain. Phil Greer my mate was having trouble with his bike as it was running badly – stator trouble. But like any good boy scouts we had come prepared with a bag of tools and a bag of spares, so after struggling on for a few miles I had to leave Phil and Deb in a service station under the protection of an artic trailer. I had lost my lights and had a torch strapped to the headset so had to leave as due to the weather we were barely visible. I set off in the knowledge that he knew what he was doing and would get it sorted and be on his way. Unfortunately he did have all the tools but I had all the spares! Sorry mate, didn’t realise till I got home. Luckily we are still friends today.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: Isle of Wight, Mersey Island and Aberfoyle there and back in one day 430 miles.
What do you like about rallies/events: The ride there and meeting up with friends from all over the country – talking scooters over a drink.
What do you dislike about rallies/events: Waking up in a cold tent, hungover, but that’s scootering.
What’s your favourite Scootering magazine feature: I like it all but look forward to reading the racing pages to see how me best mate Daz Westgarth is doing, he recently started racing.
Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: The original Dazzle but I’ve always had a soft spot for Mick Howard bike number 21, now Sign of the Snake.

SCOOTER DETAILS

Name of scooter & reason: Torque of the Town. Always loved the name – I was going to buy the bike at one point and it had been in our club in the early days.
Inspiration for project: I’ve had two copies of a DTC and always wanted a Maca original.
Time to build & by who: About 18 months on and off by me, really at some points it has felt like it didn’t want to be built.
Engine spec: TS1, race crank by Scotty. Mikuni 35mm carb, stainless Devtour exhaust, clutch AF. Gearbox Italian LI 150 14/47 sprockets.
Describe engine performance, power delivery and scooter handling: Engine sounds really crisp. If it’s as good as the motor in my S-Type built by Scotty it will go like stink!
Are there any other unique details we have missed: Unique details outboard Italian disc brake with GSXR 750 Nissan calliper done by Daz’s dad Stewart Westgarth in his garage.
Is the scooter reliable: I bloody hope so!
Paintwork & murals done by: Done by the master Maca DTC – never before seen in these colours.
Is there any powder coating: Powder coating/engine case by Trev at Midas Touch.
Overall cost: Wow! Shhhhhh my wife will read this.
Do you have any advice or tech tips for anyone starting a project: Dry build and still expect to make things fits by reworking it yourself (nothing fits).
Is there anyone you wish to thank: I would like to thank Maca for making my dreams come true, Shaun Burns, Darren Scott, Gaz White, Daz Westgarth and Stew Westgarth and better not forget the wife Marie – thanks babe if it wasn’t for your calming personality the bike would have been chucked on the scrap heap (I don’t have much patience when things don’t fit) so thanks for making me step away and taking a minute before going back in.

Words: Stu Owen
Photographs: Gary Chapman

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