Eeesa Vivi – Strange thing in Trev’s shed
So there we were, Trev and me, discussing the merits of investing in old mopeds over a pint of old and filthy. Well I can categorically state that buying an old moped wreck and even getting it running is a bit like stuffing money down a drain however, there are some that are quite valuable, I freely admit, and, that you could loosely call, an investment. I don’t have one! Still he’d been trogging around eelybay and had a list of possibilities. None were worth a look and some distinctly ‘iffy. Now, as it ‘appens, I know a well sad site where the less commercial enthusiasts advertise so a phone call or two and a couple of days later we were heading for Watford to collect a Dot Vivi. The chap had purchased a pile of scooters (not my thing) and amongst them were a couple of mopeds (not his thing). Despite my admission I had a Raleigh Roma quietly rusting away somewhere in the depths of the shed, purchased for me mum but she had read the road test and had more sense, his scooter collection was admirable with some truly awesome German and Czech behemoths and we spent sometime oohing and aarring the various virtues of the various models he had, not least a truly dreadful (thing, but somehow fantastic with it, which towed a matching trailer!). Rather spookily he had a Roma! I felt terrible having given the marque a good slagging off.
I had never heard of a Vivi (nor had the owner!) but it was clearly a thing of beauty. It had curves and sweeps that were truly Italian and an engine that looked clean and simple. How wrong can you be in ignorance? Although not complete and clearly in need of a lot of tlc it certainly had some striking and stylish lines. I looked at from the engineering point of view and it was class. It was an advanced little thing sporting a swinging arm rear suspension and leading link forks. The engine had a few bits missing like the carb and side panel and the headlight nacelle was damaged. All in all though it needed, no, deserved to be got going again. Trevor and matey struck a very sensible deal, handshakes exchanged, and it was loaded on the pickup. Scooterman seemed thrilled that it had finally gone, Trevor, despite being a salesman of some repute, seemed less than convinced. By the time we returned to the Terrace, having been swamped with enthusiasm and luvvie-type talk, he was much happier. Only thing left was to tell the missus!
The Dot Vivi had nothing to do with Dot (Devoid of Trouble) motorcycles apart from the badge. These days Dot are best remembered for some cracking trials bikes using Villiers engines and square section frametubes. The Vivi was introduced to the Dot range in 1957 and built in Turin, Italy by Viberti and fitted with German two-stroke Victoria engines built in Nurnberg, an unlikely, yet classy, combination you’ll agree! Back in the fifties Mopeds and cyclemotors offered a cheap form of transport and benefited from reduced taxation so many hardcore motorcycle manufacturers jumped on the band-wagon and added them to their range, even Ducati! With smaller engined motorcycles becoming more reliable and affordable the moped declined in the sixties and Dot dropped the Vivi in 1962. With petrol prices as they are today the moped is actually making a big comeback, especially on the continent from whence they originally came.
A few days later and the engine had been extracted from the pressed steel frame and carted by the trusty wheelbarrow to Dicky-two-doors-down’s workshop (he knocked out the front room bay window and put in garage door some 40 years ago and his other half never forgave him) and he set about stripping it down. After a few days of grim determination eleventeen cans of WD40 and a blow-torch, amazingly, he got the piston freed off and managed to save the rings. It was in remarkably good nick inside but, going by the amount of gunge stuck to the cases, had been well-used in its former life. Now Trev has a very enthusiastic approach to restoration which means that he needs watching, closely! Despite this he managed to dismantle the frame without breaking anything important, to its basic bits (as he perceived) and set about cleaning it up and stripping the paint. Hats off to his endeavours. What emerged was a wonderous bit of something across between Art-Deco and a 1930s space adventure with a bit of anthropomorphic type alien thrown in. Nearly forgot, Dan Dare and Digby are in there somewhere. The frame is basically two pressings joined together that also forms the tank. It looks truly brilliant and now seems a shame to paint! Chrome plated and hung on the wall is the only option but, to Trev, this won’t be an option. Summoned to inspect his hard labour we strode meaningfully down his garden, beer in hand, past the new strawberry patch lurking in a chest of drawers to ‘Trev’s Shed’, opened a couple more beers, and admired the Italian styling now hanging from the roof…toasted his handiwork and opened a couple more and then found time to admire it a bit more. Sound.
Team Rusty are hoping to go en-masse to a couple of events in September not least one in Cardington. Hopefully the Vivi will be a go-go by then however Trev has already bought something a bit more modern which, apart from a leaking petrol tank, is a runner, just in case there are any set backs! Dicky-two-doors-down is busy making a new side casing from an old Marmite jar and corn dolly. We live in hope, meanwhile I strive to get the Mercette to run for more than three minutes!