Bill’s Bantam and Vespas
Mentions of his racing exploits and Bantam in previous issues of OBA have brought memories of my first meeting with Bill Morris. In 1961 I purchased a 1951 Vespa for cheap transport, as my daily commute included Bulli Pass this was less than ideal, when I
told the Vespa agent that the scooter was underpowered he informed that it could be tuned to do 80 MPH. Not an attractive proposition on 8” wheels. Sometime later I was purchasing a T110 Triumph at Bill’s shop, when I told him about the 80MPH Vespa he let me know exactly what he thought of that idea. To emphasise the point he showed me the work he had done on the twin carburettor sixspeed Bantam to achieve that kind of performance. Fred Van Bockel scored a remarkable third place behind Jim Redman and Kel Carruthers at Oran Park in 1963 on the Bantam. When I got to know Bill he would occasionally talk about his racing days, in one short circuit race he finished ahead of one of his arch rivals who hadn’t been beaten for some time. During the race he resolved that as long as he had fuel in his tank he wasn’t going to be passed, the other rider must have been just as determined, they both kept going after the flag. Ten laps and three new lap records later officials blocked the track with 44 gallon drums to stop them. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who witnessed this event or if the other rider is still around. ABOVE Gus Dubokovitch’s outback photo scores our ‘Raritee Tee Shirt Award’ for this issue. - Ed Incidentally, the Vespa agent was champion tenpin bowler Joe Velo who bowled the first perfect game in Australia at the Northern Bowl in the Illawarra. In 1980 I bought the same model Vespa (1951 low light “faro basso”) for $50 to save it from the scrapyard, sold 2005 for $4,600 to a buyer who lived 15 k’s from me and had been looking for that model worldwide for 10 years.
The Vespa Faro Basso, so named for its low-mounted headlamp. Bulli Pass would have been hard work!