California Scooter Company's new "Classic" was directly inspired by the Mustang, which was built from 1947-1965.
New retro bikes continue to grow in popularity. Royal Enfield, Triumph, Harley and Moto Guzzi all build motorcycles geared to riders whose tastes lean to yesterday’s classics. Add one more to the list thanks to the newly incorporated California Scooter Company, which is launching a line of bikes directly inspired by the classic Mustang motorcycles built in Glendale, Calif., from 1947 to 1965.
The California Scooter represents company founder Steve Seidner’s enthusiasm for motorcycles in general and passion for Mustang motorcycles in particular. Seidner has a long history in motorcycle sales, with extensive experience designing and marketing motorcycle accessories.
Now, he’s building motorcycles, with deliveries of production machines starting in March. Like the Mustang that inspired them, the new bikes coming out of Seidner’s Pomona, Calif., facility will be almost Lilliputian compared to the average Harley-Davidson. Wheels are only 12-inchers (just like the original), while power comes from a lightweight, all-aluminum 149cc 4-stroke single. The original Mustang Colt used a 122cc Villier’s 2-stroke. [Update: Several people have written in to clarify the fact that very few Mustangs were built with the Villier's 2-stroke engine. In 1947 the company introduced the Model 2 with a 320cc side-valve single and a 3-speed Burman gear box. In theStandard Catalog of American Motorcycles, Jerry Hatfield suggests a little over 200 Mustang Colts equipped with the Villiers engine were sold.] Saddle height is a low 27 inches, and the entire bike is only some 6-feet long. But that means relatively light weight of around 240 pounds wet. That basic formula worked well for the original Mustang, which was actually a surprisingly good performer thanks to its excellent power to weight ratio and low center of gravity.
Some 20,000 Mustangs were built during the original bike’s almost 20-year production life, and Seidner’s clearly banking there are still thousands of boomers like him with fond memories of riding or wanting to ride a Mustang as a kid. Three models are planned, including the aptly named Classic, which is almost a dead ringer for the original, down to its steel disc wheels. The modern engine gives it away, as does the front disc brake (early Mustangs had no front brake at all), but other than that you’d be hard-pressed to spot the differences until up close. The other two models include the very pink and tarted up Babydoll and the flat black and somber Greaser, a sort of mini bobber complete with red wheels.
The mini-bobber "Greaser" from California Scooter Company.
All three retail at $4,995, and while it’s hard to say without riding one whether they’re “real” motorcycles, chances are good they’ll surprise cynics just as the original Mustang did, which proved itself in a variety of competitive events including the famed Catalina Grand Nationals at Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. — Richard Backus