1955 Monet Goyon Starlett Scooterette
Type K ‘Model S2S Standard’ Scooterette – with 98cc Villiers engine
Though the French population had a definite need for motorized transport, by the early fifties the motorcycle industry was feeling the pinch. Lambretta and Vespa had created an entirely new market for scooters, duly adopted by young people everywhere. Although quick to respond with a wide range of French scooters, motorcycle sales were badly affected. And, of course, the new craze for cheap cyclemotors also chipped away at motorcycle profit margins.
The Starlett was one of the world’s first scooterettes. As I wrote on the Cyclemaster Museum website: ‘The cyclemotor, scooter and moped all meet at the scooterette.’
Seeing the front end profile of the Starlett in isolation, as above, you can appreciate the work that went into the styling of this graceful scooter. It’s almost swanlike.
The idea behind it, of course, was to encourage women in particular to buy the Starlett, and Monet Goyon’s extensive advertising campaigns from its launch in 1953 were aimed squarely at women.
It was no doubt inspired by the 1920s Ner-a-Car and postwar British Velocette LE, designed to resemble a car and therefore attract folks who’d not yet ventured onto two wheels.
The petrol cap is large like that on a fifties car. The fully-enclosed body obviously hides all the oily bits just as a car does.
The petrol knob (right) and petrol tickler knob (left) are just like the controls found on a car dash in the fifties. The leg-shields and foot-plates are scooter-like, also suggesting car running-boards. And the hand-start lever reminds you of a car’s gear-stick.
The footbrake, situated on the nearside running board, is also reminiscent of cars of the time.
While from the side it resembles a scooter, from the front it’s a motorcycle.
A Starlett is very pleasant to drive – in fact, it feels decidedly like a motorcycle rather than a scooter or moped, and the 98cc Villiers engine with 2-speed gearbox is as pokey as you’d expect (pokey by fifties standards, I hasten to add).
The bodywork is very solid – more so than most scooters – and this makes it a bit heaver than a British Villiers machine such as a James Comet. But I like the idea of riding a scooter(ette) that handles like a motorcycle. (Mind you, I never could decide if I was a mod or a rocker).
The pull-start lever might take a little getting used to – most people are more used to kickstarts than pull-starters. Though if you want to show off to the usual crowds attracted by the Starlett, it’s very impressive once you’ve mastered the technique.
One of my 1950s French magazines has a big spread on the Starlett (as below; plus some of the illustrations on this page come from the magazine, Revue Technique Motorcycliste of April 1954, number 78). I’ve photocopied the magazine to give to the purchaser of the scooterette.
SUMMARY of THIS MONET GOYON STARLETT
This is an older restoration that was in store for some years before I bought it. It was recently serviced by Geoff, my mechanic, and it starts easily, runs well, and the gears change as they should. You can see a video of it running below.
The paintwork is weathered in places.
The saddle needs stitching on one side (see below).
The rear wheel needs re-spoking.
It needs new tyres and inner tubes. A British supplier has them in stock.
I was given a French carte grise (logbook) with it, although the frame number is different on it.
The frame number (S2S 21834) of this Starlett (found by removing the side panel) is stamped above the wheel spindle on the offside.
The engine number (001705) can be seen by removing the top engine cover.
So, a few little jobs done and you’ve a wonderful quirky French scooterette with a British Villiers engine to amaze friends and strangers alike.
Geoff starts all my (external flywheel) bikes with a drill! But it does start fine using the hand pull-start lever.