The strikingly good looking machine - the Peugeot 103 T-Hawk - you see here is actually based on a 50cc 1978 Peugeot 103 MVL that has been heavily modified by Christophe Naulet. The 37-year-old Christophe is French and grew up in Paris, where he used to ride Peugeot, Motobecane and other mopeds in the late-1980s. We’ll let him tell his story in his own words…
‘Peugeot and Motobecane mopeds were very popular back then, with lots of parts available to trick them out. They also started racing them on the track. From late-70s to mid-90s, racers and tuners perfected these 50cc mopeds with variator-type transmissions, taking them to the next level, with custom aluminum frames and up to 18bhp from the engines. There was even a national championship [but] it died in the late-90s. A few old timers started racing again in 2007 with their vintage racing mopeds and it's slowly coming back and growing,’ says Christophe.
‘I moved to Los Angeles in 2001. By accident I rediscovered mopeds in 2009 through my neighbor who owned one. I was blown away and it brought some childhood memories back. I had no clue that we could even find or buy a moped in California. I looked on Craigslist and bought my first vintage, 1978 Peugeot 103 in stock, non running condition for $500. I fixed it after spending $30 in electrical parts and was like a kid when it fired up in my condo living room. That's the pimped out T-Hawk moped you see here,’ says Christophe. ‘I took me two years and $5000 to make it look like it does today. But that's in part because I started building mopeds for others and never found the time to finish my which was a little bit above my expertise at the time,’ he adds.
‘The stock 1978 Peugeot 103 MVL has a 50cc, 3bhp air-cooled engine and does about 48km/h. The custom version is a 70cc Malossi H20 with electric water pump, battery, lots of performance parts and all the bells and whistles. It does 96km/h. Nothing is really stock except for the frame. I made everything, including the swingarm – with no tools at the time, in my bedroom,’ says Christophe.
‘In 2010, after I decided to turn my hobby into a part time business, it was a hard and long road. But now it is my full time business. Back in 2009, I shook up the moped world and community in the US with my euro style custom builds. Some people loved it, others hated it. But I was taking moped customizing to the next level, doing stuff that nobody has ever seen. Today, I'm among the top moped builders in the US and probably the only one that does it at that level making living doing it,’ he says.
‘It's too much work, time and money. Some people do it for close friends but not as a business anymore. There's not much money in moped building in general, the average moped guy is broke. But I knew it from the beginning, so I focused on high end custom mopeds hoping to reach scooter and motorcycle owners by creating those fascinating vintage machines that are just so cool. It was a gamble but it’s starting to pay off. Most of my clients are now moped, scooter and motorcycle owners or collectors,’ says the Frenchman.
We think Christophe’s work really is brilliant and he’s outstandingly talented with his unique craft. Do visit his website for more of his unique mopeds.
The original 1978 Peugeot 103 MVL (above) and the custom-built T-Hawk (below). Just try imagining the thought and effort that must have gone into this...