Bill’s Ban­tam and Ves­pas

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN - Bob Ful­ton Darkes For­est, NSW

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!

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