Vintage two-stroke Italian scooters run through Sandy’s blood. He dreams about them – their shape, their sound, their beauty. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about scooters than Sandy at S.S. Engineering, and the quality of his work is testament to this.
It would be living in England back in the 90’s that Sandy would first discover the scooter scene. It wasn’t just about the little two-stroke machines, but the culture around it. The music, the dancing, the diversity – it was a culture and a cult. “I remember riding down the Isle of Wight for the first time after spending the winter tuning my scooter and spending every last penny I had to get her ready. I was not prepared for the awesome sight of over 1000 vintage scooters and thousands of enthusiasts all in one place. I was so overwhelmed on the first day that I got there. I just sat down on the side of the road and watched for hours the parade of scooters, the plumes of smoke and continuous chorus of the two-stroke scooters screaming around the Island.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, and Sandy’s true love for these machines is absolutely contagious. Upon arriving back in Australia, some stowaways would return with him. This would be his new love for scooters, his tool box and his first scooter. “She started life as a humble 125cc, 5hp machine that struggled to get past 50kmh in a slight head wind. She became my test-bed and was a real application of what could realistically be achieved. On the last run of the drags she pulled up 13.8 sec with 28hp at the rear.”
Armed with all his passion, hard work and knowledge, Sandy would open his first workshop on King St in Sydney’s suburb of Newtown. This would become a hub for 2-stroke Vespas and Lambrettas, with every weekend bringing in enthusiasts from all walks of life together to share their uniquely Australian perspective and experience on scootering. “This would also become the place where I met my beautiful wife. Her scooter had broken down (we now affectionately refer to it as “Shit-Boxy”) so she had brought it in for repairs. We were married a year later. Fiona may actually surpass my passion for vintage scooters. At the age of 15 she started building her own scooter in her parents basement (which she still owns).”
Unfortunately due to land lords neglect, this gorgeous historic workshop that had become a home for vintage scooters would suffer a fatal blow. A heavy storm caused irreparable structural damage and the decision had to be made to evacuate the building. “It felt like we had lost everything, but through the help of my wife and my mates Mark and Marcello, my passion was not drowned. We found a new home in Alexandria where we’re at today and built the business back up.”
There’s a myriad of projects going on inside the shop, from conventional restorations to the more eclectic works, such as a Vespa car, and a Scooter with nitrous. “I had been looking for a Vespa car for 15 years, and after a coincidental discussion with a mate, he managed to find one that was up for auction in QLD. She was a right hand drive Vespa 400 that had been partially stripped. John Zimmerle was the previous owner who was passionate about scooters and micro cars, but unfortunately ill health had gotten in the way of his project. Sadly he passed away without seeing the fruition of his work for this particular model, but now I am the custodian of this unique micro-car and the responsibility has fallen on me to do her justice. With over 20 boxes of parts, luckily I have the love and support of my wife Fiona, and son Ryder, to help me painstakingly go through parts books, itemising and parts and meticulously assembling her trying to pay homage its last owner”
“As for the moment, I am building a custom watercooled race engine Vespa all themed around a Rat style 50’s racer which will be unveiled at Throttle Roll in a year’s time. I am also rebuilding a beautiful 1959 GS 150 for a customer in Western Australia, and doing a rust-eration on a 59 Douglas for a 90 year old customer that bought the scooter from new in the UK, strapped his suitcase on the back and road to Australia… all 17,000 miles until the scooter was finally was laid to rest of its duties 30 years ago. I am sympathetically rebuilding as to not to remove the history from the scooter, but ultimately to breathe new life in her so the owner can fulfil his final dream of having a final ride on her again.”
“I try to always up-hold the strongest of environmental efforts on the workshop, from the recycling all of all materials used, to limit waster usage, but ultimately it is the rebuilding of these old vehicles that have often been abandoned and forgotten about on peoples garages and sheds that get rebuilt and re-purposed for future generations to enjoy and love again.”
Stay tuned for that naughty nitrous scooter we mentioned previously, we intend to show off in all its glory!