OF ALL THE hobbies you could have, Colby Thompson’s is pretty unbeatable. By day, he’s a company CEO—but after hours, he restores and modifies rare vintage scooters.
Based in Bend, Oregon, Colby’s owned, raced and built motorcycles since he was nine. “I enjoy motorcycle creativity,” he says, “especially builds that are minimal and raw in nature.”
His scooters—built under the moniker of Lounge Mercury Vapor—are the pocket-sized products of a quirky imagination and clever engineering. Sometimes Colby builds them squeaky-clean, but most of the time they’re dripping with authentic, hard-earned patina.
Here’s a closer look at three of his latest builds; two rare Cushmans that are over sixty years old, and a 1960 Puch.
1947 Cushman 60 Series This project started out as just a shell, lying in a field in Madras, Oregon. Colby decided to keep the weathered bodywork—but some of it was just too far-gone. So he fabricated a new seat pan and floorboard, and added new aluminum skirting.
“The patina was preserved to resemble a scooter that faded away, perhaps in the salty fishing docks of the Oregon Coast,” Colby explains. “The Lobster sign [sourced form Amazon] was added to that effect.”
The 60 Series still has most of its distinguishing features—like its ‘trunk,’ which needed some massaging to fit properly. It also still rides on its fully functioning suspension, including a swing arm that’s hidden by the body. Colby installed some original spec balloon tires to keep things period correct.
Under the hood, this Cushman’s now powered by a 212 cc Predator go-kart motor. (Colby had to mod the subframe to accommodate it.)
“I favor the Predator motors because they are inexpensive and reliable,” he says. “We actually use Predator motors in Quarter Midget sprint cars, modifying them by grinding cams and raising compression… and they keep on running!”
The original motor was a two speed setup (basically high and low range), with a shifter that poked out on the left side of the shell. The Predator’s a single speed, so Colby’s replaced the original shifter with a cue ball.
The brake system is all new, complete with a custom-made linkage (the original was missing). Finishing touches include new cables and grips, a new chrome headlight, and a 1940s Chevy truck emblem out back.
1960 Puch DS60 Cheetah This Austrian-made cutie pie originally made its way into the USA under the Sears Allstate brand, where it was sold as the ‘Cheetah.’ (Which is ironic, when you consider that the 59 cc scooter was more suited to plodding around the city rather than sprinting.)
Colby found this one in Madras too, except it had been parted out into numerous boxes and five gallon buckets. He pieced it together, and even managed to keep most of its original paint.
The OEM fuel tank was too rotten to hold fuel; Colby kept it to maintain the Puch’s looks, but added a new fuel cell under the seat. He also fabricated a new floorboard, and a rear brake system and linkage. The Auto Clinic in Bend treated the seat to fresh upholstery.
The Cheetah also originally had leg fairings up front, but they’ve been removed for looks and weight, and to push more air to the motor. The motor’s not OEM either. It’s a 110 cc Lifan unit, sourced from a salvaged bike.
The Puch now rolls on 12” rubber from CityPro, and has new grips, cabling and a custom wiring loom. There’s a NOS speedo sourced off eBay, and a taillight sourced from a local custom car shop.
As is his signature, Colby’s added a couple of unique touches. There’s an eight ball covering the center tank mount, and a Harley-Davidson luggage rack repurposed out back.
1958 Cushman Highlander The Highlander is one of the more rare Cushman motor scooters, and was only in production for three months. It was bought from a collector living on the Oregon Coast, and featured a pretty puzzling mod—a 9” stretch on the frame.
“My supposition is that a farmer or rancher had repurposed the Cushman,” he explains, “and stretched the frame to serve, say, a pump, via a homemade jackshaft that was located on top of the frame structure. Original V-belts were included.”
The entire rear part of the frame was rusted out though, so it had to be replaced. Colby rebuilt it with materials left over from a middle school project his company worked on, and kept the 9” stretch. And he fabricated a custom swing arm arrangement for it.
That wasn’t the only challenge—the Highlander’s wheel bearings were rusted solid, and took eight man-hours to free. Colby popped a 212 cc motor into this one too.
The wackiness continues with a eagle head on the front fender (its eyes are red LEDs), and a 1959 Cadillac tail light. The seat pan is original, but rubber dampers made from FMF exhaust plugs have replaced its springs. And that switch on the right side toggles the lights.
The Highlander’s original gas tank was a barrel-shaped reservoir mounted at the back, but the Predator motor has its own fuel cell. So Colby installed a keg to mimic the original design. And he fitted a bicycle water bottle cage and a basket under the seat, making this the ultimate beach picnic scoot.
Photos by Kurt Windisch.