A highly-detailed replica of the 1967 Lambretta LI ridden by the character Jimmy in “Quadrophenia” sold for an astronomical $209,000 USD at a Sotheby’s auction last weekend. As desirable enough as the scooter is on its own, it’s also signed by the Who’s Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey.
The special auction benefitting the (RED) charity was curated by Apple design chief Sir Jonathan “Jony” Ive and designer Marc Newson. The lots included classic and unique design pieces such as a desk designed by the Ive and Newson for the event (sale price, $1,685,000), an Ettore Sottsass’ 1969 Olivetti Valentine typewriter ($60,000) and a Fiat Jolly 600 ($485,000).
The Lambretta replica was styled by British builder David John Wyburn, known for his “Quadrophenia”-related works. The auction catalog states, “Jony and Marc are plainly smitten with this creation, which is both a celebration of pop culture and a powerful reminder of ‘Quadrophenia,’ a film that played a formative role as they were growing up and experimenting with design. More than just a means of transportation, the scooter represents reaction and rebellion, fundamental motivations for design.”
Released in 1979, “Quadrophenia” is one of the most influential depictions of scootering and scooters in popular culture. Jimmy’s Lambretta and Ace’s Vespa GS160 (actually a disguised Vespa Rally) have become the iconic representations of the mid-sixties British Mod scene that inspire scooterists to this day. (The site VCB160 features an interesting account of the history of the original “Quadrophenia” scooters.)
The replica’s high sales price is undoubtedly due to the charity and cachet associated with the special auction. The actual Lambretta ridden by actor Phil Daniels in “Quadrophenia” sold in 2008 for a mere £36,000 — $58,176 USD at the exchange rate at that time. That auction set a sale price record for a scooter in the UK. The replica, which sold for 3.6 times as much, may have set a world record.