Here it is then, a gentle Tale about my involvement with Moto Parillas.Beachcomber’s Tales from the Day – June 2012“2 Moto Parilla’s and the Renault R8 Gordini”
By way of explanation, the Renault R8 was a compact saloon, produced from 1962 and like previous Renault models, spawned a competition version – the Gordini. See previous pix.
The cars were way ahead of the UK competition featuring 4 wheel disc brakes, independent suspension all round and a HEATER ! Yes, at this time in the UK [ early 60’s] a heater was still considered an optional extra.
The cars had an excellent large passenger compartment with truly luxurious seats. Being rear engined, the front “boot” [ trunk ] space was quite limited, and of course you couldn’t just prop the lid open for large loads as you could with traditional front engined car.
Anyway – that was the car. Now the bikes.
I’d come to own a Parilla courtesy of my pal Ted Bloomfield. He’d put me in touch with a guy that owned one and wanted to build a Triton – I had a spare Dommie rolling chassis, so a deal was done.
The bikes were typical of small Italian machines of the era – beautifully made and exquisitely crafted. They were also quite quick compared to British offerings of the same / similar capacity. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my model, but the engine looked so ……. right – that I just had to strip it down and take a look inside! Inside was no different to the outside appearance – fine tolerances and parts that just fell together. It was on one of my trips to Ted’s [ to get gaskets ] that he told me of a guy that he knew about 25 miles south of the River Thames and only 40 miles from my house who “was into Parillas”.
Unfortunately there was no phone number for the guy, so it was down to swift drive down to see if he had any spares for sale. I called my Father to see if he fancied a trip out, as he’d been housebound for a few months following a knee joint replacement. And so we set off in my Gordini, with a pocket full of cash hoping to get a bargain or two.
As we pulled up at the house I spotted a complete Parilla in his front garden.
Fortunately for me he was in and it soon transpired that he had 2 complete bikes – both up and running. He’d also had an ultimatum from his Wife – new kitchen required, which meant he’d have to sell something to raise the cash. He’d actually got the first bike out of storage to start it up and make sure it was in a salesworthy condition ready for advertising in the “Exchange & Mart” – our weekly advertising “bible”.
We got the second bike out and both started and ran, albeit with a bump start due to flat batteries. I made certain his Wife was present for the negotiations
and made a stupidly low offer for the lot – which she saw as a new cooker, fridge, whatever and made him accept the offer on the spot – provided I took them then and there!
Now came the fun bit.
Anyway – an hour later the wheels and forks were out and the engines dropped on his garage floor. I took the tanks off and some of the ancillaries to stop them getting damaged. That was the easy part – the parts were crammed into every nook and cranny and no matter how we tried, the front boot lid just couldn’t be closed shut. Aerolastics [ elastic luggage straps ] – don’t you just love them . With four of them secured underneath the front wheel arches and over the boot lid, we eventually got everything packed in – AND I could just about see over the lid [ front hinged, rear opening ]. After a few miles everything settled down to the point where I could go round corners without something or the other hurtling across the car. Boy was I happy, especially when wifey came out just as we were leaving with a big box of spares, gaskets and handbooks / manuals and insisted that we took them so she could clear some cupboard space.
In those days there were various tunnel crossings of the lower Thames – the newest being the Dartford crossing. When it was first opened it shortened our journey to Brands Hatch by some 1 ½ hours each way – saving a trip up the Thames virtually into the East End of London. Eventually a second parallel tunnel was opened to cope with the additional traffic – each one being two lanes one way. At the same time toll booths were installed which were manually operated. The Parillas were only 25 miles south of the tunnels and a further 15 miles or so from home.
Another piece of relevant info. for non – UK residents. A vehicle has to be taxed for road use – a Road Fund licence, and although insurance was de-rigeur, we would often avoid paying the Road Tax as long as possible. Usually you could get away with it on a casual Police check by saying “The tax is in the Post” – which then meant you had to buy tax for that complete month – a risk you’d take. Mainly because this was a council matter and NOT a police issue, the bobbies couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork. As I had been in the process of applying for the tax when the Parilla offer came up, I had all the relevant documents in the glovebox ready to send off. Anyway, on this occasion I’d chosen to use the “Tax” money to buy Parilla spares ! As I pulled up at the booth, the guy was giving us the evils due to the aforementioned propping open of the boot lid – but as I could see over it, and it was secure, there was bugger all he could do about it. However, just as I was driving off he ran out of the booth and stopped me – as he’d spotted my tax was out of date [ disc on windscreen ]. I was busy telling him I’d sent the documents off only 2 days before – when Father piped up “No you’re mistaken I saw them in the glovebox” !!
Then it was too late and the jobsworth insisted on seeing the documents. Caught red handed. Thanx Father ! So my Parilla spares had now cost me the Road Tax and fine. Even that wasn’t enough to take the shine off my bargain purchase. Memory fade’s set in now as far as the price, but I do remember it was about a week’s wages. Or to put it another way - about a quarter of what they were worth.
It wasn’t until quite recently that I became aware that Ted Bloomfield had at one time been an importer for the Moto Parilla range – that was before his secondhand bike breaker business.