It’s in the catalogue as a 1967 Lambretta li150. On the 25th of November, Bonham’s auctioneers will be selling the world’s most famous scooter. Of course, I’m talking about KRU 251, ridden by Jimmy in Frank Roddam’s Quadrophenia. It’s been owned for several years by Allstyles scooter shop of Portsmouth, and in the past they’ve been offered very silly money for it, mainly from Japanese collectors. As it is, the Lammy’s expected to realise £25,000. Not bad considering that after it was used in the film, it mouldered in a garden hedge for several years before being rescued. You don’t get the seat that Lesley Ash parked her posterior on though – the original is part of the Quadrophenia Collection at Littledean museum in Gloucestershire.
Quadrophenia is the scooterist’s Wild One or Easy Rider. It was the film that kicked off the early 80s mod revival. There’s a lot wrong with it, as any mouth-breathing scooter purist will tell you. Half the extras are wearing flares, a rocker’s got a ‘motorhead’ shirt on and loads of the scooters were still in the mind’s eye of Innocenti or Piaggio’s designers in 1963 when the film is set – including Jimmy’s. Ace Face’s Vespa GS is actually a poorly disguised Vespa Rally – the sensuous lines of Piaggio’s Gran Sport masterpiece were too lovely to be chucked off Beachy Head, even in 1979.
The film’s not quite the reason I’m a scooterist – I was too young for the film’s first release – but seeing a thousand Vespas and Lambrettas lined up on childhood visits to Scarborough stayed with me, and I’ve loved scooters ever since. I’m not a mod, but Quadrophenia’s the reason I’ve got a (seldom worn) 1955 fishtail parka and a red, white and blue roundel on both my scoots. Bellboy!