Meet Miss Dandy
Billed as Britain’s first scooter (a dubious claim), the Dandy was powered by a 70cc two-stroke engine with a pre-selector gearbox, swinging arm rear suspension and leading link front forks. As on the Italian scooters, the engine/gear unit formed one side of the rear swinging fork. Gear changes were made by twisting the left hand twistgrip to one of three positions – low gear, top gear or neutral – without using the clutch. Once the gear position had been selected, the clutch lever was used to engage the selected gear. Pressed leg shields gave reasonable weather protection, but the big selling point (if there was one) was the claim of 130 miles per gallon of petrol. Slap down £129/10/- and the Dandy was yours, plus £1/10/- for registration in Victoria. On May 24th 1957, the vivacious Miss Margot Day, a 19-year-old Sydney model, breezed into Melbourne aboard the Dandy supplied in a joint venture between Finlay Bros – Victorian BSA distributors – and public relations company Pierre Mann, having covered 569 miles since setting out from the Sydney G.P.O. In terms of publicity, the stunt certainly worked – newspapers at both ends of the journey working themselves into a lather in describing Miss Day as “Australia’s threat to Sabrina”. With vital statistics of 40-21-34 (inches), Margot certainly had the runs on the board. In 1956, she won the title of Miss Movie Ball and was a finalist in the Jayne Mansfield TV Quest. Although she had no driving experience, Margot passed her motorcycle test after just a few lessons. She said, “It is much better fun than riding in a snazzy sports car with the boys. I’ve had a few ‘wolf whistles’ but
Let’s face it, the BSA Dandy needed all the help it could get. With just 70cc of wheezing motive power, the Dandy was probably at its best in the showroom, but the dauntless folk at Small Heath had spent up big tooling up for the scooter/moped device, which in some ways curiously foreshadowed the Japanese step-through design.
TOP Margot even made the pages of the colour Melbourne newspaper, Truth. ABOVE CENTRE Prior to donning her sensible riding attire, Margot tries the Dandy for size. ABOVE Margot flashes her pearly whites prior to setting off from Sydney. RIGHT Nine...