Sean Robinson is known to many on the scene as the Garagista, and his weird and wonderful creations have already been featured in my Scooter Oddities and Rusty and Rat Rod Scooters pages. He can chop up a Vespa and weld other bits onto it like nobody else can. I first came across the Batmobile at the Isle of Wight a few years ago, which Sean had a hand in building for his brother.
Sean was the hero of my chum Snowy, from seeing him and his mates ride through Fordingbridge on their scooters. A couple of weeks after Mad Max hit the video rental stores they had all chopped and matt-blacked their scoots and that inspired Snowy on his road to customisation.
These days, Sean’s most recent rally ride is the car/scooter hybrid featured on my Isle of Wight post, which got masses of attention when it was parked on the green.
So that’s what Sean is up to now, but how it it all start? Here is the story of his first rally and the early days of his scootering life…
Sean Robinson – My First Rally
How did you first get into scooters?
In 1980 we had a beat up LI150 in the garden with no carb, just a petrol line trickling into the manifold, which we would bump start and then hang on. My first road legal scooter was a Vespa 50 Special in 1981.
What was your first scooter rally and what did you ride?
My first proper rally was Scarborough in 1981. We rode from West London on a 1967 Vespa 90, which was handpainted bronze.
How was the journey?
I started out with several West London clubs including the A30 Nightriders, London Wasps, Viceroys and a few others. We left London about 9am and I lost my club mates at Watford and did most of the journey on my own. I found them again in a service station way up on the A1(M). We finally hit Scarborough around midnight I think, it was about 200 miles altogether.
What job were you doing at the time?
I worked in an ironmongers in Brentford and took home £35 a week. I probably took £75 with me to Scarborough and came back with a fiver and some loose change.
Where did you stay when you were there?
I kipped in a van on the Friday and Saturday, and on the floor of a friend’s B&B on the Sunday night.
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Were you in a club at the time?
I was in the A30 Nightriders from south-west London and I still have the patches.
Do you have any memories of the rally itself? Any funny moments?
The weirdest thing was not being allowed to dance in the do Sunday night due to a bizarre local bylaw! We rode out to the new Arthur Francis ‘premises ‘ outside York and bought an AF Sticker. I absolutely froze to death in my mod flasher mac, open-faced helmet and woollen gloves. Seeing all the scooter boys dressed much more suitably converted me, and I was a shit Mod anyway, always covered in engine grease or muck.
Was the journey home eventful?
Yep, riding out of Scarborough with a bunch of other mods as we passed a couple of bikers going in the opposite direction. Bottles and spanners were thrown at them, and as a bunch of horses from a riding school came up the road all the scooters revved up. It was carnage and like the charge of the light brigade! I guess the mods didn’t like the posh kids on the horses!!
What type of music were you into?
I was mainly into the mod sounds of the time and had just discovered Northern Soul.
What was your favourite custom scooter of that era?
A mate did a chequered TV 200 with rattle cans and I thought it was the bees knees.
Do you still have a scooter now? What do you ride?
What do scooters mean to you now?
A hobby and a way of unwinding.
Thank you Sean, for sharing these great stories, and the photos. I’m sure everyone will agree that it’s scooter builders like him who make the scene so interesting and vibrant. I can’t wait to see Sean’s next project!
If you’d like to read more from my First Rally series, here are the other scooterists I’ve featured
With Christmas fast approaching, here are some ideas for the scooter lover in your life!
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