Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The other Lambos

Say the word 'Lambo' and most motoring enthusiasts think 'Lamborghini', but there's a scooter-loving sub-culture out there to whom a Lambo is a Lambretta. While I don't currently own a scooter, I am planning to buy one, so in the meantime I have been amusing myself by building a 1/43 white metal kit of a Lambretta with a sidecar. Here it is.

It's tiny, just 4.5cm or 1.75 inches long.

The kit itself is very simple, just ten parts: three wheels, two
axles, sidecar body, sidecar seat unit, scooter body, the
handlebar unit, and the base.

I found the colour scheme in an online search for photos of
similar Lambos, but I couldn't find the colours I wanted
already mixed, so I mixed and blended my own cream and
the pale minty green (with assistance from my wife Pam, who
is an accomplished artist). Her big tip was that I didn't
just need white to tone down the medium green I was starting
with – I also needed a few drops of blue to change its hue.
Thank you, Pam! I then used an airbrush to apply the paint.
It needed a fair bit of touching up with a fine OO brush to
tidy up blemishes once I peeled away the masking tape.
One of my mistakes was to not wait long enough to let the
enamel paint dry. I thought 48 hours would be enough,
but not when you're applying masking tape...
Finally, I am toying with the idea of going back to riding scooters on the road. Right now I ride a very nice Moto Guzzi 750cc V7 Classic, but I rarely get the chance to take it out into the country. I tend to ride around the city and suburbs when I do go riding. And while selling the Guzzi will be hard to do, the temptation is to get a scooter to have fun with around town.

Back in the 1980s I worked as a road-tester for some local
Australian motorcycle magazines, riding anything and
everything, but the two-wheelers that none of the lads wanted
anything to do with were scooters. So I put my hand up and
loved testing them at the time. This is a photo of me at speed
on a Vespa PE200, back in the day.

Ideally, I'd love to get an old two-stroke scooter. I loved their pop-pop sound, and those little two-stroke engines had plenty of grunt. But getting a nice one will be difficult, and I don't want to spend all my time maintaining an old, worn-out one, so I might have to settle for a modern four-stroke. However, I am getting ahead of myself, I haven't sold the Guzzi yet, and that will be a difficult thing to do!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sharp little record-setter

It might be a fairly cheap little 1/43 scale model by Universal Hobbies, but there's just something about the shape, and the story, of this La Petite Rosalie Citroen record-setter that makes this one of my favourite cars in my diecast collection.

As one friend said, "it'd make a good axe". That's sharp!
Now here's the story, lifted word-for-word from a posting by
my friend RT, posting as "Featherless Biped" at where I hang out online. Over to you, RT...
"With this car, Citroën intended to demonstrate the reliability of their cars. This was done in 1933 with this car and a team of drivers. With officials watching, the car was driven on a track for 133 days and nights and only stopped when it had covered 300,000 km (186,000 miles)! It averaged 93 kph (58 mph). This brought Citroën great publicity. Petite Rosalie broke or established 300 other records. The record was made using Yacco motor oil."

Couldn't have said it better myself, thank you RT. 

This is the great thing about collecting diecast cars: you discover cars you didn't know existed and you read stories you've never read before. And for me, you also stop and think how utterly intrepid the pioneers of motoring were: 133 days of slogging it out around a track, without the benefit of a windshield or roof or any kind of creature comfort. This is one car which proved its worth, piloted by an unheralded group of drivers (and backup mechanics) who must have been as tough as Dad's axe.