rafferty newman scooter and motorcycle shop opened in fareham in 1966. during the union pay disputes of the 60’s, the catchphrase for off-the-cuff, unplanned industrial action was ‘wildcat strikes’. associating wildcat with instant action, ‘wildcat tuning’ became the name of the tuning branch of the rafferty newman shop. at around this time, the sporting scooter club, the hampshire union, was set up and rafferty newman decided to support hampshire union racing as ‘team wildcat’.
rafferty newman used ways to increase scooter engine power such as re-boring cylinders to accept larger pistons; and raising the primary compression in the crankcase by stuffing the holes in the crankshafts with corks and araldite.
the rafferty newman firm was famous for their ‘5-port induction’ barrel, which was available as an over-the-counter item, or part of the ‘wildcat kit’ for customising scooters. the 5-port barrel conversions involved modifying lambretta barrels with two extra transfer ports and was advertised as increasing power by up to 30%.
a barrel was dramatically overbored almost out to the original stud holes. then two additional booster ports were carved opposite the exhaust port. a car cylinder liner was found that could be machined to fit as a replacement liner inside the lambretta barrel once cut with the new port layout (four transfers and a single exhaust port). the extra ports allowed the exhaust gases to be cleared with a charge of fresh fuel and ensured a more combustible mixture.
one 5-port barrel found its way onto the racing circuit in a 125cc vega which was ridden by geoff stephens and marten holdway of team wildcat. however, the sports governing body banned 5-port barrels from the race track. apparently the 5-port wildcat 125cc vega:
“accelerated like a leopard with a rocket up its arse, but they could never gear it high enough for top speed. after 5-ports were banned for racing this machine was sold for road use to a lad from portsmouth. that is one serious fire-breathing moped”.
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