Whilst relaxing on holiday and contemplating how I was going to introduce our first Italian made classic scooter to feature on the blog for 2014, my scatterbrain came up with an old, simple but very influential advertising slogan; “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. To a normally wired brain this may make no sense or have any relevance to an Italian scooter, but in my short circuited mind it has relevance. You see, it was this slogan that made Honda and dare I say motorcycling popular with the masses, especially in the American market. These words, together with pictures of happy men, women and children all performing different tasks on Honda Super Cub 50cc step through motorcycles, formed the basis of the 1962 Honda advertising campaign. It was this campaign which saw the general public begin to change their attitude towards motorcycles. In our experience you also meet the nicest people on a classic Italian scooter.
When we first launched our blog, scooters were not supposed to be on the menu of custom motorcycles on offer. We were ignorant of the vibrant local and international classic scooter movement. Not long after launching Retro Write Up, we started meeting some of these scooter fans/fanatics and were immediately drawn to their beautiful scooters as well as to their boundless enthusiasm and knowledge of classic scooters in general. We thus happily began including scooters in our line up. The owners of the scooters that we have featured are an eclectic group of people who seem to all accept and respect the various makes models and styles preferred by their fellow enthusiasts. A restored classic can be found standing parked next to a fully customised model at a scooter gathering.
Gerard, the owner of this Vespa SS180, is typical of many of the scooter owners to whom I have spoken. He is an avid Vespa collector and a staunch member of the notorious, or should that be infamous Vesparados Scooter Club. We have featured two of Gerard’s Vespas previously, including his Mod styled scooter.
This standard Vespa SS180 is a very sought after model amongst collectors. They were available from 1965 until 1967, a scooter which has full ’60s Mod heritage. A total of 35 700 units were produced. Its 10hp 180cc two stroke engine provided a modest 105km/h top speed but one must understand that these scooters were designed to be urban congestion carving commuters and not open road or highway speedsters.
Gerard bought this scooter, without even having actually seen or ridden it, for premium money in 2008… he just had to have it! I am sure many of you know that sensation when lust overcomes logic and we wind up making rash decisions. It is a wonderful feeling until reality arrives in our garage. This “fully restored” SS180 has a multitude of flaws which Gerard easily lists, including mechanical woes. He has recently acquired two cranks and will overhaul the “good as new” engine. The lesson to learn is look before you leap, ride it before you buy it. That said, a true fanatic is unable to control that “I have got to buy it before someone else buys it as it may be the last one that ever comes up for sale” urge and will not learn this lesson. Oh well, I tried! I must say, looking at these close up images, I do not see much wrong visually with this Vespa. I wish it was mine.
Do not be misled into believing that the classic scooters or their owners are a superficial, showy bunch of parking lot paraders. The scooter owners, like Gerard are as serious about riding their scooters as a superbike rider who attends track school every weekend… the scooters are just quicker through traffic.