Flying Scot build dilemma

I was fortunate enough to pick up a 1950s Flying Scot from its 86-year-old owner and I'm now faced with the sort of decision that affects all collectors who have a stash of parts - how should I build it up?

Jim was a really lovely old guy who gave up serious cycling about six years ago. The Scot was his from new - he used to race and tour on it - but he'd swapped the old parts for more modern equipment over the years.

Most of the equipment was low to middle grade, perfectly OK for the long runs he used to enjoy but pretty uninspiring from a collector-geek perspective. Sometimes it's difficult to appreciate that the old guys who used the bicycles we love when they were new are often a lot less misty-eyed about them than we are.

The Scot had nondescript hubs with Wolber clincher rims, a fairly heavy triple chainset, Weinmann Vainqueur centre pull brakes and levers, Suntour gears, its original Reynolds lugged alloy stem, a capped alloy seat post and the saddle that Jim used throughout his cycling career, a Brooks B17 Champion Narrow.

It was all very serviceable but where was the romance? Jim had the bike repainted five or six years ago in a lovely 1950s shade of green with gold head tube and gold lug lining and I suspect most of the parts were added at that time. It was professionally painted but the refinisher either wasn't asked about or couldn't supply Flying Scot transfers so it has a generic script-style transfer on the down tube. The head badge has also been glued on rather than riveted. Can't say any of that bothers me too much as the Scot looks beautiful.

I'd have loved it if the bike had had its original equipment as my decision would have been easy - leave it exactly as it is. But for a collector/enthusiast, bicycle aesthetics are important and I wanted to upgrade the bike in a sympathetic way that improved its appearance and which would find favour with Jim.

Three possibilities presented themselves: a period build using mainly British parts from the 1950s, a practical build utilising high quality, efficient and dependable parts such as Suntour XC Ltd equipment and a classic French set-up. Each had its merits. I want to spend quite a bit of time in the Scot's saddle - whether Jim's or one of my own - so it has to be something that is usable and capable of transporting a none-too-fit person such as myself a reasonable distance.

I thought about the three builds and came up with the following:

Classic French:
Mavic or Maxicar hubs/650B rims; Simplex SLJ front and rear touring mechs/retrofriction shifters; Nervar (1011 model), Stronglight 49D or TA Cyclotouriste cranks/Lyotard MB23 pedals; Mafac racer brakes/guidonnet levers; Phillipe stem/randonneur bars; Simplex badged seatpost/Brooks saddle.

Ssimplex SLJ seat post from the Evian-Simplex 1970s catalogue

Suntour XC Pro hubs/650b rims; Suntour ratchet shifters, XC Ltd front and rear gears; TA Cyclotouriste cranks/Campagnolo Chorus pedals; Mafac Racer brakes/levers; Technomic stem/GB randonneur bars; alloy seatpost/Brooks saddle.

Britain's finest hubs? Hardens from the Brown Brothers 1952 catalogue

Harden hubs/Fiamme rims; Benelux cyclotourist rear/front/shifters; Stronglight 49D cranks/Phillite pedals; Mafac Dural Forge brakes/levers; GB spearpoint stem/randonneur bars; Strata post/Brooks saddle.

This is proving to be quite a dilemma. I could make arguments in favour of all three but, short of buying another two Flying Scots, that wouldn't do me much good! I have a few old "period correct" bikes already and I could do with one that has more up-to-date equipment from both functionality and dependability points of view. And yet I can't help feeling that there's not much point in having a classic 1950s bike if it has more modern parts attached to it. I'd be as well getting some tig-welded Chinese frame for that.

I'll sit on the idea for a wee while and see what happens. In the meantime, the Scot could do with a clean and polish while I have a root around to see if I have bottom brackets suitable for whichever build wins the day.