Making of a Peugeot 103
Above, is my story about the making of a Peugeot 103. Below is a story about the moped’s first test run. Its not just any moped, its a blend of precarious old rubber and steel that goes faster than it was ever supposed to go, even new. To see more about the moped view the blog smokingbelt.tumblr.com.
Grégoire, my french friend and mechanic, calls me to come give the moped it’s first test run. When I arrive he grins wildly and announces that he has tuned the moped to perfection. The 1979 Peugeot 103 was sitting in the corner of the garage, and looked about as proud as a peacock.
He says, “Its going to go slow because we’re just breaking it in. You need to take it easy man. Ok?”
I agree and anxiously wait for him to finish welding an exhaust pipe he custom built for his Subaru diesel engine. Over the past year he has corralled me into doing the photography and web design/development for his Subaru diesel engine company, Boxeer. He gets a full advertising package and I get… a moped. He grimaces at me and says, “Yah man!, we’re even now!”
We take the moped to a sprawling 4 lane road in an industrial part of Nashville that shares the resemblance of a ghost town. If there were any 1/4 mile hot rod races in Nashville, this would be the place to have them. Except for today, its the moped’s moment of glory or eternal flames. Maybe mine as well.
Greg hops on the moped and tears down the road, leaving me behind in a cloud of smoke. Maybe that’s the French way of, “breaking in an engine nice and easy”. He disappears around a corner but I still know exactly where he is. As I hear him turn around and head back towards my location I start counting in my head. By my calculations he was going approximately the speed of sound. Sonic booms would probably be more pleasant than the high-pitched wine reverberating off the old buildings.
My turn. I had recently sold my 1981 Yamaha SR250 for this moped and up until this point I had doubt lingering in the back of my mind that maybe, probably, I had made a mistake. I throttle up and immediately feel less silly for having a moped. I find it responsive, light and zippy. As the speed increased, so does my smile.
Bump. Just a small one. But it felt like a ramp. Awesome, a new found joy for road imperfections! At least the 30 year-old shocks were still solid, one thing I didn’t have to replace. The tires were factory as well.
In laughter I rejoin greg at the corner and congratulate him on the solid build. Greg retakes control and motions for me to jump on the flat metal back of the moped. After all, that is how we got there in the first place.
He hands me his phone. The screen was on and displayed an odometer app registering zero on the interface. ”Lets see how fast this thing will go with both of us on it”, he exclaims in his thick french accent.
On the ride there I had felt uncomfortable hugging the stinky french guy from behind, and as precarious as it was, I had opted not to. However, this time was different, it was my only comfort. The comfort, that if I fell off, he’d be going down with me.
Terror, excitement, adrenaline. I don’t know what it was, but it was there from the get go. “10, 25 , 30, 38”, I yell. In a flash I see my moms calm smiling face, a soccer ball crushing the back of a net, and a long gravel road leading to Darla’s blueberry patch. I snap back, “47, 48, 50!” We whip around the corner and a passing car blares the horn - in utter amusement I only assume. The sight of two grown men on a tiny french moped can only be amusing. If I had a guess, I’d say that I looked like the guy in Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream, and Greg resembled the Tasmanian Devil.
Thats a picture I wish I had seen and not experienced.
As much as I’d like to never do that again, I wouldn’t bet on it.