The scooter racer and the bike he would never sell
Former scooter racing champion Peter Hockley has restored his favourite scooter – after it was sitting in his garage for 40 years.
A former scooter track champion may have had his favourite scooter stored in his garage for the last 40 years – but he knew he’d have it back on the road again one day.
Peter Hockley of Fareham, now 70, is back “throwing” his restored Lambretta Li150 Special round corners more than a half-century on from when he first bought it, for £177, 7s and 6d.
The average span of a motorcycle usually sees riders and their prized possession share memories for around 12-15 years, yet Pete has had 54 years of wonderful moments with his pride and joy, including during the height of the scootering scene during the mods and rockers era of the 1970s.
He became a leading player in the south coast scooter scene, first with the Fareham Trendsetters and then with the Hampshire Union club that would later go down in folklore as one of the leading racing clubs in the country. Pete himself was the national scooter track champion in 1969, racing both solo on his Li150 and with a sidecar passenger in the Wildcat combinations.
It was the start of a way of life; of scooter rallies, Parkas, foot-stomping music, coffee shops and, ultimately, a reputation as the most fearless of all racers on the legendary Wildcat Lambrettas.
It all started when Pete adopted his older sister’s NSU Prima scooter, but “it never really worked very well, so I ditched it very quickly”, buying his own brand new Lambretta.
The Li150 Special, originally only produced in all silver, featured styling from the TV series scooters with an uprated Li powerplant including a modified barrel and head, closer gear ratios and carburettor that allowed more fuel into the combustion chamber.
Now, after a restoration spanning 40 years, Pete has decided to get back on the silver Lambretta he rode all over the country from Brighton to Blackpool.
Despite the astronomical rise in value scooters have had over the past decade the scooter racing legend never once thought about selling his unused Lambretta.
Pete said: “Selling it was not even a thought process. Other people said ‘why don’t you sell it because they get good money?’ Yeah, they do, but it’s my youth, and I don’t want to throw it away.
“I remember some very good times with it and still enjoy riding it, so why sell it? It was not particularly in the way anyway; it was just there in the garage.”
The old saying ‘like riding a bike’ may be used to describe accurately riding a push-bike, but when it comes to riding a scooter, there is always a learning curve as the 70-year-old found out.
“There was a learning curve again,” he says. “I live on a little circular estate and I was going round and round on that originally, just to get a feel for it.
“I got back onto the handling side of things and then slowly but surely went further and further away from home until I’d got the confidence and reliability back into it.
“Once you’ve been on two wheels it never leaves. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been out of it; it’s still ingrained in your brain. I was like ‘yahoo, this is nearly as good as it used to be’.
“Now I’m flinging it round corners again, but I’m not quite so wild and reckless as I was.
“My wife Val used to ride on the back, but she’s said there’s no way she’s getting on the back of that thing anymore! She’s chuffed I’ve got it back on the road though after all these years.”
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Pete’s bike is featured in Bikesure’s Forever Bikes blog – the personal stories of motorbike enthusiasts who have owned their vehicles for 30 years or more. Read more stories at www.bikesure.co.uk/forever-bikes/.
This article was produced in association with Forever Bikes. If you have owned your motorbike for 30 years or more and would like it featured on Bikesure’s Forever Bikes blog email Grant Elliott: [email protected]