Next weekend ScooterNova magazine will be heading to Burton Brewers Custom Show, looking forward to seeing old and new customs, classic, rat and restored scooters. We’re among many scooter enthusiasts who make their machines personal – whether it’s club and rally stickers, travel badges, paint, wrap or chrome accessories – and I’ve been thinking about top custom scooters and what motivates their builders.
As a teenager, still saving up and dreaming of owning a scooter, it was inspiring to see custom scooters at rallies and in scooter magazines. I remember being in awe the first time I saw Purest Green, the Blackadder custom GP, from the early 1990s.
Fast forward a few years, and while I was at JB Tuning in Essex one day I spotted this iconic scooter in for an engine rebuild. Edmund, as it is affectionately known, was still looking as amazing as ever and John told me that it was now back with the posession of the original builder and owner, Teresa. Since then Teresa has been clocking up the miles again and I caught up with her at Mersea Island scooter rally last September.
When the Purest Green project was still just an idea back in 1989, it wasn’t as easy as just searching the internet for artwork and images. Teresa told me she wrote to Rowan Atkinson and the Blackadder production company were good enough to send signed still-photographs to allow John Spurgeon to work his magic in paint. Completed in 1991, just in time for Great Yarmouth scooter rally, Teresa rallied Purest Green for a few years but when her family life changed she had to sell her GP in 1994. Circumstances changed again, and in 2014 Teresa decided “to get her Edmund back”!
Thanks to social media and the scooter network they were soon reunited.
It’s great to see that the GP remains much as Teresa’s original build. The artwork is still in excellent condition, apart from some minor alterations done by interim owners. She told me that one of the murals has been changed and that the legendary John Spurgeon’s signatures have been removed. The plan is to remedy this and I look forward to seeing the completed results. The engine was seized and the recommission work was handed over to JB Tuning to build a fast and reliable TS1 motor which Teresa is delighted with as, “it starts first kick, most of the time”!
Another iconic scooter was also at Mersea. In contrast to Purest Green, Start Me Up has been completely transformed since it first hit the streets. I’ve known Mark – Start Me Up’s owner and rider – for a few years now. After riding to numerous rallies with him and his wife, and fellow scooter enthusiast Vicki, I knew that he had tracked down his original scooter when the bug bit him again.
Mark told me that for the original build in 1993 he took inspiration from the iconic scooters at custom shows of the time, like Teresa’s GP, Dazzle and Shock among many others.
Start Me Up first saw the road in 1994 and Mark continued riding and showing his scooter until the end of 1999. With a house and a young family, the scooters ended up on the back burner and he sold them all, keeping Start Me Up in his living room. Concerned that it might fall on his young son Jordan, it was demoted to the garage and he ended up selling it to a scooterist in Portsmouth.
Then about ten years ago, Mark started looking for his old custom scooter. Searching social media and via a few friends, the guy got in touch with him. Mark says “funny enough when they were talking he was still referring to it as being my bike”. So it was back to Portsmouth and Mark collected Start Me Up from the same place he’d sold it.
At this point Mark decided to bring his old scooter up-to-date. As he says the quality of paint and the availability of images have moved on and he wanted to get it up to the standard of the iconic scooters he admires, and this is the result.
“What I liked about custom scooters, especially back in the 80s and 90s custom scooters were so personal. People put their hearts and souls into the scooters. That’s what I wanted for Start Me Up. And to ride it as much as I can.”
Nostalgia is often associated with scooters – maybe because they are a fun, youthful vehicle. Is there more to it than that? Perhaps it’s all the personal happy memories we have wrapped up in these machines. Both Teresa and Mark told me that when they wanted to get scooters back on the road, only the scooters from their past would do.
Thanks to Vicki and Teresa for the use of their photographs.
*ScooterNova is a quality scooter magazine, published bi-monthly in the UK. It is available from your local scooter shop or via subscription at http://www.scooternova.com