Spike Milligan’s Quadrophenia Lambretta

Spike Milligan\'s (Jimmy\'s) Lambretta LI (Photo: Bonham\'s)
Adding to the ever-growing list of Lambrettas claiming to be Phil “Jimmy” Daniels’ custom Li from Quadrophenia: British comedian Spike Milligan’s widow is auctioning a “Jimmy” Lambretta from Milligan’s collection at Bonham’s on November 26, 2008.

UPDATE: Andrea (thanks!) found the actual listing at Bohnam’s, with a story that proves its lineage and explains that at least three “Jimmy Lambrettas” I thought to be in existence are actually this same bike. Now if someone could just clear up the Sting Vespa controversy.

I’m reposting the entire write-up here, without permission, in the interest of preserving the text for posterity in case Bonham’s doesn’t archive it:

Sale 15844 – Entertainment Memorabilia including “The Private World of Spike Milligan”, 25 Nov 2008
Lot No: 347W
Rock & Roll Memorabilia
1967 Lambretta Li150 Series 3 Scooter,
Registration no. KRU 251F, as ridden by Phil Daniels (‘Jimmy’) in the film ‘Quadrophenia’, 1979,
Manufactured by the Italian industrial giant Innocenti, the Lambretta motor scooter, together with the rival Piaggio-built Vespa, mobilised an entire generation of Italians in the immediate post-war years. The scooter gained instant acceptance everywhere, its cleanliness and convenience in particular appealing to those who regarded the true motorcycle with suspicion. Scooters would eventually surpass their strictly utilitarian origins to become an integral part of British youth culture in the 1960s as favourite transport of the fashion-conscious ‘Modernists’, or ‘Mods’. The scooter’s enclosed engine and decent weather protection meant that its rider could arrive at a club, doff his parka and look like he’d just stepped out of a taxi, which was a definite advantage within a dandified sub-culture that placed a premium on smartness of appearance.

Introduced in 1947, the Lambretta scooter went through a series of mechanical and stylistic evolutions before arriving at the ‘Li’ series in 1958. One of Lambretta’s all-time greats, the Li resulted from the relative failure of the unreliable TV 175 Series 1, which forced the company to go back to the drawing board. Built in 125cc and 150cc capacities, the classic Li used the bore/stroke dimensions of the preceding ‘D’ Series but housed its entirely new engine in modern bodywork similar to that of the TV. The Li subsequently underwent a series of styling alterations, the Series 3 being readily distinguishable by its handlebar-mounted headlight and ‘slimline’ styling, embodying what for many enthusiasts is the definitive Lambretta look.

Estimate: £20,000 – 25,000

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Tel: +44 (0)8700 273 620

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The Lambretta Li 150 Series 3 offered here is the actual machine ridden by Phil Daniels’ character, James ‘Jimmy” Cooper in the 1979 film, ‘Quadrophenia’, inspired by The Who’s double album of the same name. After filming finished, the ‘Jimmy Bike’ was sold to scooter dealers Rafferty Newman and put on display in the window of their shop in Portsmouth. It was subsequently purchased by Eddie Harris who then sold it on to Paul Marsh, both these owners being Portsmouth residents.

Although far too young to be a ‘Mod’ in the 1960s, the vendor caught the post-Quadrophenia revival in the early 1980s and was on the lookout for a scooter to buy. Quite by chance he spotted ‘KRU 251F’ lying in a front garden in Southsea, Portsmouth and, recognising the registration number from ‘Quadrophenia’, knew that he had found Jimmy Cooper’s old bike. (It should be noted that as ‘Quadrophenia’ was set in the early 1960s, the registration’s ‘F’ suffix denoting 1967 was removed for the filming). A sale was negotiated and the Lambretta collected together with its accessories, which had been removed for safekeeping by the owner, Paul Marsh.

The machine’s restoration was commenced almost immediately but would not be properly completed until 1995, by which time the vendor was running his own scooter shop – Allstyles – in Portsmouth (It should be noted that, as is the case with most motorcycle restorations, some parts were replaced during the rebuild and prospective purchasers are advised to satisfy themselves with regard to the extent of this machine’s originality before bidding). In June of that year the ex-Jimmy Cooper Lambretta was pictured on the front cover of Scootering International magazine and featured in an accompanying article. Since then it has gone on to win various concours awards and been used for a host of promotional events, photo shoots, trade shows, etc, as well as featuring in other publications. When ‘Quadrophenia’ was re-released in January 1997, ‘KRU 251F’ attended the premiere in Brighton where it was reunited with Phil Daniels and other members of the original cast. Later that same year the ‘Jimmy Bike’ was used for filming at The Who’s Quadrophenia concert in Hyde Park, London and on location in Brighton.

For the past few years, ‘KRU 251F’ has been kept carefully stored inside the vendor’s house and is to the same specification today as it was back in 1979, including the Ken Cobbing sports exhaust system. The machine remains in excellent condition, although a certain amount of re-commissioning – new battery, carburettor clean, fresh petrol, etc – will be required before returning it to the road. Offered with current SORN and Swansea V5, ‘KRU 251F’ represents an exciting opportunity to acquire the ‘Jimmy Bike’, one of the most famous Lambrettas of all time.

Some good photos are included as well, see the link.

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