As a teenager in 1966, Paul Midgley would look at the newly released Lambretta SX200 taking pride of place on display in Watson Cairns & Co scooter dealer shop window in Leeds – and dream that one day he would own one…
Getting into the scene
That year Paul decided he needed a cheap and economical form of transport to get to work on, and influenced by a friend who was already riding one he bought his first scooter, a Lambretta Li125 series 3. After making the purchase and using the scooter for work, Paul also became involved in the local scooter social scene. “We always met at Headingley Bowling Alley and we’d go on ride-outs for the day to places like Filey, Bridlington and Blackpool, they were good times.” smiled Paul.
Paul’s son Mark was born in 1970 and as in most cases, family responsibilities took priority and Paul’s scooter went into the garage. Later that year Paul and his wife Sandra moved to a new house, which didn’t have a garage, and the scooter got left behind.
As Mark grew up he also became interested in scooters and inevitably got involved in the local scooter scene. “My first scooter was a Vespa SS180,” he said. “I was working as an apprentice joiner and used to go to the building college in Leeds, and there was a lad at college who had bought an SS180 for £30. The lad kept it for a while but he didn’t really know what he was doing with it, so I offered to take it off his hands.
“Unfortunately the motor was seized so I had to push it all the way from Adel on the northern edge of Leeds into the city where I lived, but when I got it home my dad told me I wasn’t allowed to ride it because I wasn’t old enough!”
Having relieved Mark of the SS180 and to prevent him from getting intotrouble with the law, Paul bought Mark a Vespa 50 Special. In the meantime, Paul decided that he would keep the SS180 for himself!
Within a few months of riding the 50 Special, Mark became friends with other scooterists, one of whom was Pete Rutterford. Mark and Pete shared the same scootering interest, a passion for racing. “Pete was racing a PK125 at the time for Leeds Central SC, but he moved onto racing Lambrettas when he started racing for AF Rayspeed. In the meantime, I’d also started racing for Leeds Central SC Leeds,” Mark explained.
In 1988 and having moved house again Paul became restricted even further for storage space and had to sell the SS180, but he still had a burning desire to get an SX200.
In light of what Mark had said, I asked him about the history of his current scooter, which is an original AF Team Rayspeed race bike painted by Macca at DTC and is marked on both sidepanels with Pete’s name. Mark explained that sometime around 1997 Pete finished racing and the scooter was sat in bits in Pete’s garage along with an ‘over-tuned’ TS1 AF Rayspeed head, barrel and piston kit. Mark liked the scooter, and so having a connection to its history he bought it off Pete and built it up in his kitchen!
Running in the family
Paul’s brother, Carl as a teenager had initially been into motorbikes but it wasn’t long until he also got into scooters. “I’d always liked the look of Paul’s and Mark’s scooters, and if I’m honest I’d always been interested in the scene.” Carl explained.
“It was about 25 years ago when I was visiting Spain on holiday when I came across what I can only describe as a Spanish scooter ride out and on that day I said to myself, ‘That’s it, I’m going to buy a scooter when I get home’. On returning from holiday Carl duly searched the local ads and found a Li125 Series 2 in nearby Wakefield. One call and a short drive later and he was the proud owner of six or seven boxes of an Italian jigsaw puzzle! Being reasonably mechanically minded Carl set about building the Series 2 and restored it to its original condition. Carl explained that he liked the scooter, but it just didn’t hit the switch for him, it was too slow and he wanted a later ‘slim-style’ model. The Series 2 sat in Carl’s garage for around 18 months before it was eventually sold…
In the meantime, Paul kept looking for his SX200 and his patience finally paid off. In 2000, while looking through the classifieds adverts in Scootering magazine, Paul came across an SX200, which was priced within his budget. The scooter was for sale in the Middlesbrough area and knowing that Mark was on a stag do at the time in nearby Yarm, Paul contacted Mark and asked him to give it a ‘look-over’. Nursing the excesses of the stag weekend,
Mark called in and checked it out; it was a good buy but needed a full restoration. Paul purchased the SX and got it delivered to his house.
Paul missed the SS180; but that was about to change. At the time Paul was working as a BT engineer and had been repairing a phone in a nearby estate. When he was driving through the estate he saw a fella polishing his ‘modded-up’ SX200 on his driveway. With a bit of time on his hands Paul stopped and started chatting with the guy who’s now his good pal, Chris Johnson and it was through Chris that Paul got introduced to the Leeds Crusaders SC.
Paul started riding with Leeds Crusaders SC and after a couple of years riding with them he eventually bought an SS180 off Chris Johnson!
In 2006 and with funds gathered Carl started looking through the classifieds for his ‘Slim-Style’ Lambretta. After some searching he found an Li150 Silver Special in Portsmouth. He borrowed a van off one of Paul’s friends and went down to Portsmouth and picked it up. Carl gave the scooter a full mechanical overhaul plus a new paint job and restored it to its former glory. He was now on the road with Leeds Crusaders SC and was riding a scooter which could keep up with all the others. But deep down Carl also had a passion for the SX200 model and decided he wanted one too…
A story to tell
At the time, also riding with Leeds Crusaders was a pal of Carl’s, ‘Shiny Dave’ (Leeds Crusaders’ chrome accessory aficionado) who owned an SX200. In 2014 Carl persuaded ‘Shiny Dave’ to part with the scooter and bought it off him.
“The scooter was in pretty good condition but it needed a few bits doing to it and it needed a re-spray,” explained Carl. “I’ve always been pretty good at painting – I’d done my Series 2, my Silver Special and I’d also done some upgrades on Paul’s SX for him.” Carl took the scooter apart in his shed and started stripping it down, and on one of those sessions during that process Paul came round to see how he was getting on. Carl told Paul that the scooter had had 17 coats of paint and showed him the layers of paint on the partly sanded down front mudguard. Paul looked at the mudguard, saw the green layer of paint and then without saying anything bent down and started looking at the frame legshield support struts. Paul then looked up and pointing at the legshield frame support struts said, “You’re not going to believe this. I nearly bought this scooter back in 1998! I know it for certain, because when me and Mark went to look at it, it had these exact welds on the frame legshield supports and it was that green colour, which is on the front mudguard!”
Carl eventually completed the work on the scooter, which was now almost part of the family. He gave it a full restoration, choosing to paint it in an original white and gold colour scheme which gave it a true ‘vintage classic’ look and it’s the scooter he rides today.
Lucky or what!?
Carl’s current project is a Lambretta Golden Special, which he got by chance when Paul visited a local car bodywork spray shop to get some work done on his car! “I walked into the shop wearing my Leeds Crusaders SC jacket,” Paul said.
“Seeing the jacket the bloke there said to me: “I’ve got a Golden Special in bits in boxes in the back, if you want it you can have it for £800.” Knowing Carl was looking for his next project Paul bought the scooter.
Carl is currently in the process of giving this scooter a full restoration. He also intends to make various engine and gearbox upgrades to it. When it’s finished, this will run as an all-white ‘vintage classic’ tuned SX200 and it has to be said, if Carl’s previous restoration projects are anything to go by it will be another absolute belter.
PAUL & MACHINE
Name: Paul Midgley
Scooter club: Leeds Crusaders SC.
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: My best friend at the time, Geoff Charlesworth bought a Lambretta Silver Special in 1966 and I was hooked on scooters from then.
What is your favourite scooter model: Lambretta SX200. It was the 90mphspeedo that did for me!
First rally or event: IoW in 1967.
How did you get there: Li125
Any stories: Going on holiday in 1967 when Sandra and I set off on the scooter from Leeds with £10 borrowed from my mum only to blow a hole in the piston as we came into Leicester. A helpful fella who happened to be passing by in an Austin Cambridge saw that I’d broken down and asked what was wrong. The guy said ‘Give me five minutes’ and returned with a barrel and piston. I was back on the road in no time!
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: Leeds to IoW in 1967. The ferry crossing cost 2/6d return! Happy days!
What’s your favourite Scootering magazine feature: The tech page. Very helpful and Show Us Your Scoots.
Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: T5 ‘Living the Life of Reilly’ from October 2017.
Scooter model: 1966 Lambretta SX200.
Inspiration for project and theme: I always remember being a sixteen year old lad looking in the shop of the local scooter shop (Watson Cairns & Co, Leeds) and thinking ‘one day I will own an SX200’.
Engine: 225 MB tuned. Crank: race. Carb: 30mil. Dellorto. Exhaust: 48mil. AF Rayspeed. Clutch: Cassette. Gearbox: Standard.
Describe engine performance, power delivery and scooter handling: Stunning performance with the Mugello tuned 225 kit. Handling is excellent with the tubeless tyres and rims.
Is the scooter reliable: Very; and so it should be after the money I’ve invested in it; don’t tell the wife!
Paintwork & murals done by: Myself and my brother, Carl.
Is there anyone you wish to thank: A big thanks to my brother Carl andAnthony, my brother-in-law. ‘Maz’ mymate for his help rebuilding thescooter. Steve Monie for supplyingthe paint. Trevor at Midas Touch(polishing and chrome).
CARL & MACHINE
Name: Carl Midgley
Scooter club: Leeds Crusaders SC
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: About 25 years ago I was visiting Spain on holiday and came across only what I can only describe as a Spanish scooter ride out, from that day I said to myself, ‘I’m going to buy a scooter when I get home’. Looking back it was inevitable that I would end up in the scooter scene as most of my family are avid scooterists!
What was your first scooter: Li125 (thought that would have put me off for life!).
What is your favourite scooter model: Love all of them, especially the ones that are restored at home. If I had to choose it would be the flagship models, SX200 and GP200.
First rally or event: Don’t do too many rallies but always make the effort for the IoW.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: Brid’ and that was far enough. ‘Sore trumper’ comes to mind!
What’s your favourite Scootering magazine feature: Technical stuff and Show Us Your Scoots. To be honest it’s all a good read!
What’s the most useless part you’ve ever bought for one of your scooters: Don’t know about parts but I did once end up buying a full scooter from a far eastern place that really should have stopped over there!
Name of scooter & reason: ‘Trouble’ because they are.
Scooter model: SX200.
Time to build & by who: Over a couple of weeks in the ‘man-shed’ by me.
Engine spec: 225 Mugello. Crank: Uprated. Carb: 34mil. Exhaust: BGM. Clutch: Uprated. Gearbox: GP200.
Describe engine performance, power delivery and scooter handling: Great to ride with ample power when it is needed. Handling has been vastly improved with SIP wheels and BGM dampers and R1 shock.
Paintwork & murals done by: Paintwork by yours truly.
Overall cost: It came to £5000 plus a couple of hundred more spent on paint and materials.
What was the hardest part of the project: Time; when you have a wife and a house full of kids!
Is there anyone you wish to thank: My big brother for being there. Oh and the wife!
MARK & MACHINE
Name: Mark Midgley
Scooter club & town: Classic Nouveau SC, Leeds.
What was your first scooter: For a very short while it was a Vespa SS180! And then a Vespa 50 Special.
First rally or event: Knaresborough pre-season run.
How did you get there: Vespa 50 Special.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden on a scooter: IoW x2 or Holland.
What’s your favourite Scootering magazine feature: Readers’ scooters because it means so much to everyone.
Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: I like reading about the specification of all the scooters, it’s always my first read.
Name of scooter & reason: Team AF Race Scooter 125cc class.
Scooter model: GP 200.
Inspiration for project and theme: To get back out there!
Engine spec: Over race tuned TS1 by Ray (AF). Crank: AF. Carb: 34 Amal power jet.
Exhaust: Micron exhaust for years – just changed to Chiselspeed CTS5. Clutch: Carbon fibre. Gearbox: SX200 14/47.
Is the scooter reliable: It’s been amazing, that’s why it’s still the same as it is for the last 20+ years!
Paintwork & murals done by: DTC Mac did the whole team. I remember going to see him under the dark arches in Leeds. He was up to his nuts in scooters to paint and spares for the team, just sat there with a bucket of soapy water and wet and dry rubbing away; think this was about Xmas time!
Is there anyone you wish to thank: Peter Rutterford for selling me an amazing piece of kit.
Words & photographs: Stu Smith
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