Blast From The Past...
Where do you begin with a Dealer Special that you had a hand in "creating?" The Mantis came from the now long defunct JC Scooters. It's a scooter that when I first saw it didn't have a name. At that time JC Scooters were based in Canwell and were a small emerging dealers who had created a dealer special based around a Series 3 Li 150. The basis of the idea was simple, to create a Dealer Special that could be built cheaply, as Series 3 Li's were cheap to source, and there it all began. The first scooter was silver with Rover Amaranth Purple as a contrast colour. The hubs and forks were sprayed black. The engine was tuned to a mild tune on a 200cc block. The scooter had no name and I came up with the idea to name it, and Mantis it was. The second Li Mantis was silver and Rover Nightfire Red. But thats where things started to change. The second Li was sold to a guy in the West Midlands who sold it on. When I saw it again I asked the owner if he'd like some graphics for it and I came up with the idea of Team Mantis Racing and the logo was simply in black on either side of the mudguard. On the legshield I devised a laurel wreath logo with the name Mantis in it and on the rear of the scooter a large round logo of a 4 leaf clover and the words Mantis 100% Terminal Velocity (in Italian).
Things moved along and the next Mantis was an Li based machine that was sprayed in one colour of metallic orange (it appeared in Scootering magazine along with 1 of the only 2 Vespa Mantis machines). At this time it was decided that the scooter should be offered with 3 engine options: Evolution (based on the Imola 186), Extreme (based on the TS1) and Rapido (based on the Rapido). A couple more machines were completed, including one in a rainbow metallic paint scheme. JC came up with some none too attractive Mantis horncast badges and the sales of the machines didn't really turn into much.
Some time later the shop (now in Lea Marston) took a delivery of a batch of Indian GP's. 3 of them sat in the shop for ages (a turquoise blue model, a red model and a yellow ochre model). A chance meeting with Paul (of KAS Race Paint) saw me launch the idea of the Mantis as a street racer. Paul used the Downtown Custom paint scheme and now the legshield featured contrasting stripes, race numbers and racing circuits on the legshield (Number 1 was Snetterton, 2 was Brands Hatch and 3 was Imola or was it Monza?). The idea was to have them feature seperate race tracks and to not use the numbers more than once. I must admit that the scheme became a popular one and more the idea of using the one number only was stuck to. For a while anyway - bear in mind that I had simply created the idea, building and selling them was left to the shop. As time moved on Mantis chrome grille louvres were created by Quality Chrome in Hull and even a spare wheel disc on one GP. Over time the owner of JC's decided to mess with the design and the race circuits were changed for a chequered flag.
The Bridlington show of 2007 saw me decide that a "girly" type street racer hadn't been done so a donor cream GP was selected and Honda Jazz Pink, pearl white and gun metal grey were used. I had the scooter painted as a Mantis Extreme Mk 7 (as I was certain that enough changes had gone on with the Mantis that it must have been in its 7th incarnation). It sported a TS1 225 legshield badge but the engine was still the stock 200cc unit. Leather lever covers were fitted and off we went. No wins, a scooter built in a week and a deflated view of the scooter and the dealer selling it. A falling out with the infamous JC saw me walk away from any dealings with the shop and no further involvement in the Mantis.
It wasn't too much longer before the shop moved and then closed completely with money owed to me and a number of other people. What should have been a good thing was now a sour taste. The Mantis was shelved - consigned to scooter history.
But the story doesn't stop there I'm looking to produce another 1 or 2 not for sale, but for me. One will be based around the Vega and one around my Li so a Mark 8 and a Mark 9 and maybe given time a Mark 10 will appear.
Mantis Extreme Mk VII