The Oxford Dictionary is uncompromising. You and I might think of a ‘scamp’ as a lovable rogue, a mischievous little tyke, but the OED defines the word as “rascal, good-for-nothing,” and if it’s a verb, as “to do work negligently.” So as an unfortunate choice of name for a new two-wheeler, it’s right up there with the Dayton Albatross (if you believe Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.)
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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. There are echoes of the LE Velocette story in the tale of the Clark Scamp, which in 2018 celebrated the 50th anniversary of both its birth and demise.
Both companies (Velocette and Clark) aimed to provide light two-wheelers for a mass market. But while Hall Green in 1949 went about it with high engineering endeavour, and produced an initially flawed but ultimately impressive machine, Clark, an apparent newcomer to the two-wheeled scene, down on the Isle of Wight, bought in a bicycle, and, up to a point, designed their own basic 50cc two-stroke engine. Unfortunately, however, they designed it with a fatal flaw, before getting tangled in legal action with the original designer and having to call in the receiver, scrap the project, and lay off half the workforce. So while it may have been a plucky attempt, it was tricky too, and had no good outcome.
Read more in the January issue of TCM – on sale now!