Meet Miss Dandy

Old Bike Australasia - - BSA DANDY & MARGOT DAY -

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...

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