Meat Is Murder – Lambretta Chopper

Lee Richards riding Meat Is Murder Lambretta chopper at the Isle of Wight scooter rally in 2019

I recently posted a photo of my husband Lee’s Lambretta chopper, Meat Is Murder on Instagram. It got lots of likes and some comments from Smiths fans who wanted to know more about it. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a long time so this was the nudge I needed to get on and do it.

The history of Meat Is Murder

Meat Is Murder is a 1971 Italian Lambretta GP125, and Lee Richards originally bought it as a powder coated black chopper in 1987. He immediately changed a few things including the seat set-up, adding a chrome back box, cut a few bits off and extended the frame. He asked Holbrooks Scooters in Coventry to weld a crossbar and add 4″ to the frame. Lee chose John Spurgeon to do the paintwork as he was (and still is) one of the best artists around, and the first incarnation was a red irridescent base with a mural on the petrol tank.

The theme of Meat Is Murder was a natural choice as Lee became vegetarian in the late 1980s and was a massive Smiths and Morrissey fan. Although Lee hadn’t eaten much meat for years it was the song which inspired Lee to become a full-on vegetarian. The song describes evocatively the suffering which animals are subjected to and the horrors of the meat industry.

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The airbrushed mural on the petrol tank features the Meat Is Murder album artwork and John also painted two helmets featuring portraits of the band.

It was on the road in its first incarnation in 1989 and until I first published this blog the photo below is the only one we had of the scooter with its original red paintwork.

But then Ian Grover got in touch and very kindly sent me the photos below that he took back in the day.

Red Lambretta chopper, Meat Is Murder, on display in the late 1980s at a scooter rally
Front view of red Lambretta chopper, Meat Is Murder, on display in the late 1980s at a scooter rally

The forks were extended by Pete Robinson by 14″ using square twist and he also did all the engraving on them. Parts of the scooter had already been engraved by Don Blocksidge with scrollwork, but Pete added much more.

The 2006 revamp of Meat Is Murder

Lee took the scooter off the road in 1990 and it was stored in boxes until 2006 when he re-engineered many of the parts. Here is Lee doing some welding with bits of the scooter in the background.

Here is the dry build of the scooter with the seat in progress.

Lee took it back to John Spurgeon for a complete revamp of the paint job. John changed the base coat to a candy apple blue, keeping the original mural on the petrol tank.

Lee re-engineered many of the features himself including a new seat and back box, and also had help from Pete Robinson for some of the more complex fabricated parts such as the flywheel cover and rear disc arm. The flywheel cover featured the ‘suitable for vegetarians’ logo in a cut-out design as well as engraved scrollwork. Pete also redid the engraving on other parts of the scooter including intricate portraits of the band on the exhaust.

The revamped flywheel cover, engraved by Pete Robinson

The new version of Meat Is Murder features a 10” frame extension which was made using two other frame tubes from Italian Lambretta frames.  It seems such a sacrilige now to have used THREE Italian frames but Lee says that Indian frames were too thick and nobody wanted Italian frames in the 1980s.  Nowadays he’d just ask someone to machine an extension piece but in those days they just worked with what they had. When it was extended it was also raked by 15 degrees.

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Meat Is Murder mural on the petrol tank
On Brading Down in 2008 at the Isle of Wight rally

The revamp used a brand new engine with the casings painted by John Spurgeon and colour-matched to the frame. The engine was built by Taffspeed and features a TS1 225 kit with a B Race tuning expansion pipe and 30ml Dellorto carb.

The new version was unveiled in 2008 and since then it has won a bunch of trophies. Lee won best chopper two years running at the Isle Of Wight, two trophies at the Antwerp Custom Show, awards at Hayling Island, Surrey Custom Show, and even best chop two years running at a local biker custom show.

On the green in Ryde, 2017

Scootering Magazine cover

I enlisted the help of then-editor Andy Gillard to feature Meat Is Murder on the front cover of Scootering magazine for Lee’s 40th birthday which we celebrated at the Woolacombe rally.

I then secretly arranged for the scooter to be on the Warmwell patch that year too, with the help of Andy Greenslade from the South West Scooter Clubs!

Over a decade later the scooter is still going strong. It suffered a few scratches when Lee came off in the rain on the way home from the Isle of Wight in 2018. He hit a patch of diesel on a roundabout and ruined a few pike nuts as well as splitting his petrol pipe.

Lee was honoured that the scooter was invited to be shown at the first ever Scooter Expo custom show in July 2019. Organised by the guys from Scooter Nova and ScooterLab UK it was the biggest gathering of top custom scooters ever and took place in Alfreton, Derbyshire. You can read my write-up of the show here.

At Scooter Expo with some of the trophies that Lee has won over the years

These days the scooter is only taken out for relatively short rides and local rallies such as Hayling Island and the Isle Of Wight. Lee’s building a new monster chop, this time using a Vespa P Range, which may see the light of day in 2020 – I hope!

Full Meat Is Murder Gallery

If you like Lambretta choppers then I’ve compiled a blog featuring all my favourites which you can read here.

Rally Guides

Rally Guides
If you’re planning your scootering calendar for 2021 then check out my 2021 Rally Guide to get the best choice of accommodation.

For an in-depth guide to the biggest scooter rally in the world, here is a link to my Isle of Wight rally guide.

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