Blast from the past: Seventies nostalgia drives moped gross sales
Seventies mopeds are booming as nostalgic fanatics, now in their 50s and 60s, seek out the machines that gave them their first freedom of style as kids.
Popular fads such as the Yamaha FS1-E, or ‘Fizzy’, have soared in value up to £10,000, whereas a decade ago an identical two-wheeler could be had for £1,500. In the mid-seventies, its authentic price was £230.
Moped favorites include a variety of mopeds, such as the Suzuki AP50, which now retails for hundreds of kilos, whereas a few years ago you could pick one up for just a few hundred.
Mopeds were big business for youngsters in the 1970s, as legislation in 1971 banned them from using 250cc bikes under the age of 17.
The so-called “Sixteenth Rule” restricted 16-year-olds from driving cars no larger than 50cc. In compliance, this meant no bicycles – however two-stroke mopeds of the time were allowed to experience.
In response to this legislation, moped manufacturers began producing ‘sports mopeds’ – modern and fast vehicles specifically for the British market, which usually resemble full-fledged bicycles.
These mopeds, like the well-known Yamaha ‘Fizzy’ and its rival the Suzuki AP50, were socially and culturally necessary because they gave their owners – usually for the first time – freedom.
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The rise of mopeds in the 1970s led to 1977 when the federal government issued new legal guidelines that prohibited mopeds weighing 250 kg and a top speed of 30 miles per hour.
Jeremy Curzon, motorcycle specialist at Cheffins public trading house in Cambridge, says: “After years in the wild, these 1970s mopeds are now highly collectable. They cost quite a bit of money, but you’re paying for a machine of freedom.
Last year in April, Cheffin bought a modified Fizzy for just over £4,000, while another was bought in 2021 for £10,350. Curzon says: “Ten years ago a Fizzy would have only sold for around £1,500, but recently they have gained a reputation , as costs run into the hundreds. However, no one could have imagined that any of these sixteen-year specials would generate five-figure sums.
He says: “The Fizzy was probably the most iconic and beloved of them all, and to this day it holds a very special place in the hearts of those who were teenagers in the mid to late 1970s, myself included. It’s good to see these bikes on public sale now getting attention, and we’re seeing prices rise as nostalgic visitors seek out the bikes of their youth.
Mopeds are cheaper to run than cars, but for many homeowners their appeal lies in the sense of freedom they bring to the rider. Nick Devonport is President of the Buzzing Club, formally known as the National Automobile and Motorcycle Club.
“The retro-cycling craze is still insane because people go back to their childhood when they felt the wind in their hair when in reality they were often just struggling up the hill and being overtaken by all the other vehicles,” he says. .
“This has created a market where the price of Japanese mopeds is now very high, but values are still expected to remain stable.”
Davenport adds: “However, there are plenty of other 1970s contemporaries costing around £500 that can still go up in price and give riders just as much fun.
“They could also be better investments because their initial purchase price is usually much lower.”
Conclusion: A classic 1975 Yamaha FS1-E known as Fizzy can sell for £10,000
Nick points to the French Mobylette, which started in 1949 and was produced until 1997. Another is a 1954 Slovenian 50cc Tomos that still sells for £1100.
When making a purchase, Nick recommends contacting an enthusiast club for free unbiased practical advice and tips on what to look out for, including previous ownership registration and making sure it has authentic parts to retain value.
Victor Hirst is membership secretary of the British Two Stroke Club, an enthusiast group.
He believes this wave of interest could also have a knock-on effect with even older British mopeds being copied and often improved upon by more reliable and faster imports from Yamaha and Suzuki.
These include the 98cc James Comet from 1948 to 1964 and the 98cc Excelsior Consort from 1953 to the mid-1960s.
Hurst says: “I have a 1954 Comet with two speeds that you shift with paddles on the steering wheel, but a few years later they switched to foot pedals as adopted by the Japanese manufacturers.
“You can still buy it for £1,200, although you couldn’t give them away a few decades earlier. Looking at the increasing value of the Fizzy and the Suzuki AP50, British bikes have a lot of potential.
How to look if your previous bike is efficient
If you’ve bought a 1970s moped and need to know its value, take some photos and contact a knowledgeable auction house. You may also consider creating a fanatical membership similar to the National Automobile and Motorcycle Club at thebuzzingclub.internet.
The auctioneer or participant will ask several questions, after which they will tell you how much the moped could be worth. The highest costs are for mopeds with low mileage, but additionally for mopeds with all authentic elements – even when the car is not working now.
The fastest mopeds of the era are actually also among many of the most sought after, says Jeremy Curzon of Cheffins Auctions. It’s all about originality. It’s efficient when it’s in chunks, as long as they’re unique bits.
However, many older mopeds are removed from the new situation.
Some have been exposed to the ravages of time and their authentic teenage homeowners – “killed” in the moped group sense. Other mopeds fell victim to another development of the time: they were modified to go faster.
Homeowners of mopeds in the 1970s usually tinkered with their machines and changed parts in an effort to get several extra miles per hour out of their prized possession. “In the past, people modified and fine-tuned them to make them run faster,” Curson explains.
“It was about being able to brag that your moped once overtook a Jaguar E-type.
“They were beaten to death and many were scrapped, so now there is a limited supply.”
Next month, public auction house Cheffins will be promoting what Curson describes as “a quartet of the best sixteen-year-old mopeds from the mid-1970s, all from a dedicated collector who has now hung up his pants”.