1952 Terrot Scooter VMS1 (Scooterrot)

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The Italian ‘scooter invasion’ of the late 1940’s/ early 1950’s was a challenge to every European vehicle manufacturer. Of all the French manufacturers’ responses, the Terrot scooter was one of the most inspired.

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Bernardet had already responded in 1950 to the Italian challenge; but their machines were large and not as chic as a Lambretta or Vespa.

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A number of other manufacturers also fielded scooters that were old-fashioned in their styling – painfully obvious when Lambretta bodywork was totally restyled in the early fifties.

Even though these early Terrots were only 98cc and so not very successful at a practical level, the Terrot was a design success, and its marketing campaign was the most dynamic that France had seen so far.

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The most interesting aspect of its advertising is that it was promoted as a ‘two-wheeled car.’ See how the ad below (“like a luxury car”) pictures it large in the foreground with a car in the background to emphasis its apparent large size.

Nothing could be further from the truth – it’s a small scooter!

But I’m sure its dynamic ‘modern’ styling appealed to the youth of the day. And, like all scooters, with the enclosed bodywork hiding any hint whatsoever of its mechanical innards, advertising was pitched directly at female motorists.

Of course, cars also hide their oily bits, and I’m sure this was the psychological connection intended by the advertising campaigns.

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They were first displayed at the Paris Salon in late 1951, but did not go into full production until March 1952.

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This particular Terrot scooter is a 1952 VMS1, and its frame number is 000068, which makes it one of the original batch – which was a run of 100 machines. It would appear to be the oldest Terrot scooter currently known.

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Compare the Terrot with the 1955 Peugeot S57 (above), arguably its main competitor in terms of French chic styling.

I also have a 1954 Terrot scooter (below), a VMS 2 with a 125cc engine and 3-speed gearbox, in unrestored condition. The bodywork is excellent, though the mechanicals are quite worn. I’d intended to restore it, but bought the restored Terrot instead.
I’ve become quite intrigued by ‘pairings’ of vehicles; the ‘before and after’ or ‘original and restored’ theme is one I’ll continue to explore.

Compared to the VMS1 there are few external variations.

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Later – VMS3 models – of the Terrot Scooter were imported into Britain by Phelon and Moore in 1958. The VMS3, introduced in May 1955, was renamed the ‘Scooterrot.’ Production ended in 1957.

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Published in: on August 27, 2007 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment