A 1967 Lambretta, as ridden by Phil Daniels (‘Jimmy’) in the film ‘Quadrophenia’, 1979 fetched an UK auction record price of £36,000 at Bonhams Entertainment sale in Knightsbridge on Tuesday 25 November 2008.
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, which placed a premium on smartness of appearance.
The Lambretta Li 150 Series 3, 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. 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.