Saturday, September 19, 2009


A reader from Turkey, apparently a graphic artist, sent the photo below, of his homage á Vintagent...I can certainly get behind the motto (it applies to my motorcycles, among other things...), although the Tim Burton characters aren't my cup of tea.

So I suppose it's time I came out of the closet as an artist - I used to paint jackets for my friends, back in the 1980's - here is a selection of my favorites (or at least, the ones I bothered to photograph!). The jackets at top were snapped at the top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, on Easter Sunday, 1987, at sunrise. The
'Easter ride' was for 10 years a fun and slightly arduous pre-dawn foray to the top of the nearest mountain; usually we left SF at 4am, with flashlights or bicycle lights taped to our handlebars if Joe Lucas weren't cooperating, to freeze in the foggy chill and hopefully catch a glimpse of a weak orange sun before tearing back down the hill for breakfast. That's my 'Velocette' jacket, still performing reliably, although seriously patinated at this point. The skull with mohawk image is stolen from Vivienne Westwood's original from the 'Sex' collection ca.1976; hers was made from chicken bones wired together!

The Panther jacket celebrated Wendy's wondrously slow Model 75, purchased from Hollis Button. Terribly reliable though, and she rode it Everywhere in the late 80's, often catching a retinue of young hopefuls; you would have followed her too...

Denise loved her blue Velocette Venom enough to enlarge the Veloce, Ltd headstock transfer; the 'Naughty Lady' has always been a favorite of the cognoscenti (photo by moto-journalist Andy Saunders, ca. '89).

Guy had these 'drama masks' tattooed on his arm, and wanted it visible when he was riding. Yes that's Wendy, and a very young yours truly, before her little blue Panther.

Lest we not forget the sacred, Bill commissioned a Triskelion with the Manx logo 'quocunque jeceris stabit' ('where you throw me, I stand'). And of course, our model (a hirsute pd'o) sits on a Norton, albeit a Commando Fastback, ca '69, owned by Craig, the white-scarfed Rocker bemusedly occupying the front steps of a decrepit Victorian, in a then-notorious neighborhood, which of course is nowadays Very Expensive...

And occasionally a client with a Job would commission leather-abuse; Joe preferred a leather-clad Rocker supplant winged Mercury on his Vincent logo, although he's probably the only such to hold a caduseus!

It's hard to look tough when your avatar is Tinkerbell...but, Alison was game to follow my exuberant riding on her own bikes, sometimes ending up in a ditch for her efforts! The jacket held up to the scuffs and insults of pavement, but a few damp Australian winters have taken their toll on the leather - fix it Tink!

Victor, the actor, wanted a dramatic logo for his LA gang to follow, so it was Laughing Death with dice spilling from his ghastly jaws... all in good fun.

And no, I haven't done a jacket for a long time, and don't intend to; now it's up to the young Turks, so to speak, to have their turn...

As an addendum - here is what my jacket looks like 20 years later: Scuffed, scarred, faded, abraded, and just about perfect.


DoubleOhTwo said...

Well, that's my favourite Vintagent post ever.

black leather black leather said...

I'd love to see Denise's Veloce jacket with the 20 years of patina it now must have. Let me know if you find a modern photo, or can set up a meeting.


YJH said...

Monsieur d'O, I am sure you would take special orders from your beloved friends_wouldn't you_cheers Paul

clipstock said...

I have used white oil paint on my jacket, which tends to crack, but I do like the "petina" a few years gives it. What do you use? it looks more evenly spread and pliable than oil paint.

Richard Worsham

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, I would first like to say that I thoroughly enjoy your blog. I especially like the most recent post about the art that you drew on you and your friends jackets back in the day because I'm an illustrator and absolutely love this kind of stuff. I wanted to ask a simple question, what kind of paint did you use on the leather to keep it from flaking off right away?


PS- I attached of my '71 Honda CB350. Fun little ride!

vintagent said...

@Richards x 2; I used acrylics, sometimes sketching the outline with a paint pen first, then brushing the rest in. It's all free-hand. If the jacket was shiny, I used nasty solvents like lacquer thinnner to degloss where I wanted to paint. Most have held up well, even through a few getoffs!

Unfortunately, the increasing girth of most of my friends means that those jackets rarely see the light of day...

Anonymous said...

Paul - re your latest offering (19 Sept.), the word 'stabit' in the IOM motto does not mean 'I stand' but 'It stands.' Not that it matters that much but you will now know in future! Cheers Simon

Conchscooter said...

would it be crass to wish to see more of the blue Panther?

daveinnola said...

from what i rember of the chrome age of cafe racing if you had a painted jacket back it was very crude , i guess what you would call to day folk art , a couple of tinlets of humbrol model paint or valspar tinlets , a tinlet was about half the size of a pill bottle , tiger 110 , bsa or some such was painted on the backs of jackets , along with brass studs , viynl stickers were popular , but nothing like these airbrushed works of art

vintagent said...

Agreed Dave about Rocker jackets being crude...but mine were never 'retro' jackets or wannabe Rocker, nor were they airbrushed. They were hand-painted, and relevant to our lives at the time, as we rode our old bikes every day. I put over 60,000 miles on my Thruxton, and my jacket has ridden all around the world on my back - from England to the Eastern Bloc, Australia to America. It earned that patina in over 200,000 miles of riding in the course of 20 years. Not many Rockers went too far beyond the local cafes...

Anonymous said...

Love the site..... I have always been into the vintage bikes but never had the funds to actually get one, until recently I purchased a 1952 NSU 251 OSL. I have her down to pieces now cleaning and scrubbing. I plan to have it back to a rolling chassis this winter and start all the engine work soon. Which brings me to a question. I have only found 2 shops that sell NSU parts and was wondering if you knew of any more or even the best place to buy parts. Here are the 2 that I know

NSU- Shonhaar

Any help would be great. Like I said love the site and the stories.

Later Todd
P.S. here is a pic of my baby........

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your Vintagent web/blog, some nice stories and photos there... I always enjoy my trip there!!!

But how could you part with THAT Zenith?????????????????? I'm speechless at its beauty.........

I thought I just mention something...It's about the French Majestic: it is NOT a "New Motorcycle"

George Roy, the builder/inventor of the Magestic did indeed build a bike called the "New Motorcycle", but it was before and in another company than the Magestic. The NM was like a normal bike, "space frame" a la Zundapp so to speak, made out of manually bent metal sheets. Chaise motors as well for these earlier Roy creations. So the NM failed and went bust so he went further in his new company/own style and the Majestic is the apotheosis of that. It still wasn't a success, so Chaise bought him out, changed the design a bit to make it cheaper to build, still no success...

Have a nice day,

Patrick Delli,
Frenchman living in GB
my web, racing Harleys:

Thomas said...

Hi Paul, YES I 'm a german fan of your blog and I'm excited about these fashion illustrations. Great work and it looks realky great. Are these acyrl color waterresident? Thanks for this inspiration!

Anonymous said...

so i have this is brown leather, leather interior, classic cafe racer style...but the interesting thing is, on the left front side over the breast it has a yellow TRITON logo. also on the back it has yellow writing that says CRIMSON GLORY with 6 red roses in between the crimson glory...i was very curious if you knew anything about this jacket....its origin, value ect..

email me back at you

-ben clark

Josiah said...

je suis "le girthy" ;)

Churchill said...

the photos of your painted jackets are quite nice, and what's more they contain young Denises and Guys! great time & place, S.F. in the 80s. I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

So some guy hand paints your name on the back of a one of a kind jacket and sends you a pic and you quibble over his art direction?


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

Have just been enjoying your and got as far as:
back wonderful memories of the 70s bike scene.

But the pic of Wendy wearing the Panther jacket has me stumped. I know
I should be able to identify her bike - just like that! But I can't.
The logo on the cream panel is confusing me.

The knee pads, piped seat, painted mudguards and [smaller] brake drums
suggest it's one of the more cooking twins form BSA or Triumph C

The colour says BSA... or AJS maybe?? Ah, that rings a bell. I know a
mate had one in about '76 and it was a bugger to start. It's not a G12
though. That rear mudguard bracket definitely isn't AJ. It says BSA to

I give up. Put me out of my misery please M8!

Kind regards


vintagent said...

Gray, it's a Panther Model 70! A very sweet little bike... almost as sweet as Wendy, but not quite.

SWJ said...

Very nice work .. I plan to dust off my brushes soon but have never attempted a jacket - ill post when I get round to it :)

Ideas Master said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this fashionable post your outfit is amazing looking gorgeous. I always love to wear celebrity leather jackets. at the time bike riding.