Lady Katie is just wild about bikes

She may be a Lady, but Katie Percy was born to be wild.

She may be a Lady, but Katie Percy was born to be wild.

The Duke of Northumberland's daughter is swapping her glamorous lifestyle for the grease and grime of a busy garage.

Lady Katie has been appointed as chief mechanic for Marquass [correct] Motorcycles, which is about to import restored 1950s People's Liberation Army bikes from China.

The Chang Jiang [correct] bikes, which come equipped with sidecars and optional machine gun mountings, were originally designed by BMW in 1938 and Lady Katie will be working hard to restore the vintage classics.

She has even been spotted taking the bikes for a test drive in the grounds of her father's West London stately home, Syon [correct] House.

Lady Katie, 23, said: "They are really what I like, put together properly with bolts. They are efficient and uncomplicated. They had to be for military work.

"My parents have been very enthusiastic. They love it. I'm sure they'd rather I was a doctor or a lawyer. But my father definitely wants one. I was riding his bike when I was nine."

Lady Katie is currently working in a central London garage.

The Duke of Northumberland said: "We all fully support Katie's new enterprise and we wish her success. She is doing something she loves."

She has been driving all her life after learning on her father's estates at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, when she was a child. But her love of speed saw her banned from driving for six months in 2003 after she was caught exceeding the limit in her Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Speaking at the time, the Duke said he had warned his daughter to slow down and first revealed her interest in becoming a mechanic. He said: "Lady Katie, who is mid-way through a three-year car mechanic course, has a keen interest in motor racing.

"The Duke and Duchess have reminded their daughter that speed on the track should not be duplicated on public roads."

Oxford psychology graduate Ben Whately, of Holybourne, Hampshire, set up Marquass Motorcycles with Australian Jeff Marquass. Since the launch of the business the pair have been travelling China for the vintage machines.

Ben said: "Lady Katie is the only mechanic I know and an obvious choice when we were looking for someone to look after the bikes over here."

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer