I have a Lambretta Series III that had an Indian big bore exhaust on it. Well, it eventually shook itself to bits, giving up the ghost a few months ago. Right about the same time, Jet 200 announced that they would be selling the new BGM Lambretta exhaust. Good timing! After waiting for them to arrive from Europe, I finally got one from my local shop, and just recently had time to start the process of installing it. I got all the old junk off the scooter, and proceeded to put the new stuff on. Alas, I found that the new header is a bit too wide to fit on my cylinder. It hits the cooling fins. Now I have to decide whether to cut the fins, or try to jam it on there as-is. Hmmmm, where's my Dremel tool?
Are the "hipsters" that are so oft derided by popular culture just the mods of today? Hard to say. Youth subcultures all have their own uniforms and generalized ethos. However, I would say that the focus on retro natty attire and fetishization of bicycles of some of today's west-coast hipsters has a lot of parallels with the mods of yesteryear. Nevertheless, some styles are evergreen... as evidenced by the use of scooters in many fashion shoots. They just accessorize so well with clean retro-inspired fashion. Wouldn't you want to be pals with these guys?
I believe they are modelling Gant fashions.
Some cool footage from the SIP Custom Show. It is perhaps a bit more interesting if you speak German... but the shots of the scooters are universal.
Wow, time flies. About a month ago, I cruised over to my friend Jay's pad to help him make some progress on his GS. Jay bought a GS 150 VS4 in parts, and has been slowly resurrecting the old girl. Suffice to say, a GS restoration is not for the feint of heart, or anyone on a schedule. Missing parts, even small ones, take a long time to track down. Above, you see Jay-the-bandito working the surface rust off his rear shock. Fun times!
Here you see Jay's scooter in the background. My GS is in the foreground. I brought it over to his place so we had a reference for all the funky nuts and bolts, and just generally could figure out where the jigsaw puzzle pieces went. We've made good progress. At this point, we're just needing to get the wheel nuts, and Jay's got a roller! Then comes the fun part of connecting all of the cables and wiring...
Sorry for the light posting recently... I've been on vacation. Yes, relaxing on a warm beach in Mexico with a margarita and some fish tacos. I'm back though, and we'll get back to our regularly scheduled scooter blogging!
I live in the San Francisco bay area, and there are a lot of interesting people that live nearby. One of my friends works at Pixar. It seems that Pixar is working on some sort of animation that will have a scooter in it. One of their sound engineers was looking to find the sound of a vintage scooter for their project. My friend sent him my way. So he came by my house this morning to record some scooter sounds.
I ride a scooter every day, but I don't often ride different ones side-by-side. I had my PX200 out, and the SX200 that I have been working on as well. The thing that was most surprising to me was that the Vespa was much louder than the Lambretta. Honestly, the Lambretta was very quiet. What a nice scooter!
Cool period photo of some kids at a Vespa display stand. It could be at a car show or a motorcycle show. Note the sidecar box on the scooter they are sitting on. The scooters behind them have some nice accessories. Also, you can just see the back of an Ape delivery truck in the background on the left.
I'm thinking this is a Lambretta LC? This is a very odd ad. The model is impossibly thin, the clothes look crazy, just check out her waist!
So this just arrived on my doorstep. Thank you Bellomoto! I currently have a silver P, but I prefer the black. Soon my silver girl will be sold and gone, and this mistress will take her place. First things first though, I also have a shiny new SIP road exhaust to install before she gets rolling. I will post the details of that installation when I finally get some time in the garage.
Yeah! I like the chuzpah! If you are going to roll Viet-bodge, wear it proudly. I love the bent wheel rim, by the way.
Keeping with the theme of scooter videos, here is another one I like. This video is (obviously) from Germany. I think we scooterists can all relate to Dennis, the builder of this scoot. Lots of little details go into each of our scoots. Things that only we may appreciate, or even notice. As he said at the end, "I would never sell it, that is my thing, that is my baby..." Yeah, exactly right...
Some nice fellas down Louisiana way are going for broke, and doing a full web TV show about scooters. Well, I guess it is more about them riding scooters and having misadventures, but still, it is damn cool. This is the sort of thing I'd do if I had some equipment and the time to make it all happen. I love it. Check out the latest episode, where they go to Amerivespa. These guys bought a bus as a scooter hauler! How cool/crazy is that?!
Should you find yourself living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I would suggest you bid on this Rally 200 that is currently for sale on ebay. For the rest of us, I highlight this listing because it shows off a detail that only us scooter nerds would find interesting. The rear frame badge.
The Rally 200's were pretty similar throughout the 70's, but they differed in the small details. Here in the US, we got different switches and electrical systems, with at least three different versions. Maddeningly, none of them were the same as the European models, so spare parts for them are hard to find.
While the Euro models were much simpler with their electrics, they did get the (in my opinion) ugly large headlights. Sure, it is nice to see in the dark, but at what price... at what price!?
Now to the issue at hand here. The rear frame badge on this Rally is different from most of the later badges. Notice that the letters are all capital, compare that with the later badges, which have lower case letters. Also, the font is different from the later badges. I'm not sure how long these badges were used, but it must have only been the first group of the 200's that Piaggio made. I have only rarely seen these badges, and none of the US market scooters had them.
This Iso scooter is for sale on ebay in Virginia right now. Iso was an Italian manufacturer of refrigerators, most famous for originally building the Isetta bubble car. That car saved BMW's bacon when they made it under license from Iso in the 50's. I'm not sure if the Iso was sold in the US, and I think they were not. In any case, this one appears to be an Italian import. While the seller states it is in original condition, it has clearly been repainted. You can see overspray on the cable clips and on the wheel nuts. He mentions that he was planning on working on the mechanics, so you can also bet that it will need attention there too. Do you want to pay a lot for a non-running odd-ball scooter? If so, than this could be the one for you. The bidding is now at $2200, which I would say is all the money and more for this scoot.
By 1951, the battle for the Italian scooter market was at a fevered pitch. MV was determined to field a credible scooter; the result was the "Ovunque" ("Everywhere"). The main characteristic of the "Ovunque" was its single beam frame, constructed of large diameter tubing. While the engine used the same block and head similar as four-speed models, the "Ovunque" used a three-speed transmission with a twist-grip gear selector on the handlebars. The rear suspension was rather tidy; it was a swingarm design that used the engine as an integral part, as well as a single hydraulic shock absorber. Two versions were built; the O51, which used a single exhaust, and the O52, that utilized a double exhaust system. A popular seller, production was approximately 10,000 units.
This scooter recently sold at auction for $5000.
This Sears Allstate Puch sold at the Las Vegas Auctions in January for $2000. This is about what these routinely sell for... perhaps on the high side. This one looks pretty original. Not many people seem to be into these scooters, but Sears seems to have sold a lot of them.
While most of us appreciate the Vespa for the beauty of its design, there appear to be some people around the world who think to themselves, "How might I make this wonderful object horribly ugly?" My friend Pelayo sent me photos of this scooter, which is for sale in Reno, Nevada. It appears to be a mating of a Vespa motor in a home-made frame, with a lot of farm-engineering in the mix. They put a Vespa motor in this frame, and also seem to have welded the Vespa fork tube on the front. Note the Vespa fuel tank cap on there as well. Pretty wild.
This 1950 MV just sold last month at the Las Vegas auctions for $5500.
MV entered the scooter market at the Milan Trade Fair in 1949, and in 1950, introduced the CSL model (C Super Lusso). With its tubular and pressed steel step-through frame and non-stressed body panels, it incorporated a forced air cooling duct that ran down the middle of the foot-rest platform to provide cooling air to the engine. For better cooling, the engine was equipped with a fan installed on the magneto flywheel. Its 2-stroke single-cylinder engine displaced 123cc, and its 6:1 compression ratio helped generate 5 HP to the rear wheel via a 4-speed transmission. Production of this model was 2,500 units.
This Sears Allstate recently sold at auction in Las Vegas for $5000. It is a very nice scooter. The paint looks fantastic. I'd call it a "resto-mod," in that it hews to the original scooter, but there are a lot of obvious modifications. It is clearly much nicer than the original scooter was. If you are not into originality, this would be a very good choice. The price is higher than these usually sell for, but it appears to be much nicer than average. A fair deal all the way around.
This scooter recently sold at auction in Las Vegas for $4500. It was part of a large collection of MV's that were sold and scattered.
The CGT is an evolution of the "A" series scooter, the 'GT' standing for Gran Turismo. The scooter debuted at the 1950 Geneva Show and was first called the "Popolare", then the "Normale", finally settling on CGT. It had the same engine layout as the CSL, but without body panels to cover the powerplant. The front portion of the scooter used essentially the same components as the CSL. With the exposed engine, the cost savings were considerable; the CGT sold for 175,000 Lira, making it very competitive with its rivals. With 6 horsepower and four gears, the CGT could attain 80 Km/h. With its pressed steel frame, the CGT weighed 86 Kg.
New York City - Oct 20, 1971 - A city policeman ducks behind a police scooter as he takes up position outside a building on 44th St. where a office robbery was reported in progress. Dozens of city policemen, several armed with shotguns, poured into the midtown area to spectacularly break up the robbery as thousands of workers left nearby buildings and witness the action.
This scooter recently sold at auction in Las Vegas for $4000.
This very original Triumph Tina Scooter has only 202 actual miles showing on the odometer. It had reportedly been in Burroughs Cycle Shop in Burr Oak, Indiana, since 1963, and was sold to a collector approximately ten years ago. Very few Triumph Scooters were sold in the US and they made two models: the Tina and Tigress scooters. The Tigress was the larger and more sophisticated model, and this Tina represents the budget model. As motorcycle manufacturers, Triumph's heart was simply not in the scooter market. Just looking at this thing, you can certainly tell that Triumph did not even try to understand what the scooter market was all about. To top it all off, their scoots were more expensive than either Vespa and Lambretta, and were not nearly as well made. A clear recipe for failure in the scooter market, which quickly followed.
This scooter recently sold for a very reasonable $3500 in Las Vegas. It was part of a large collection of MV Agusta motorcycles.
For 1952, the MV Agusta factory produced a 150cc version of the CGT Scooter. Like the 125, the engine was exposed, and the single-cylinder, 2-stroke engine was cooled by direct air without a cooling fan. The scooter had a 4-speed transmission, allowing for a top speed of 85 Km/h. The rear luggage box was a handy feature, and the mudguard kept the riders clothes unsullied. It had a fuel consumption rate of 3 liters per 100 km, and a fuel tank capacity of 7 liters. Approximately 1,000 units were produced.
This LD was just sold at the Las Vegas auctions for $4,000. This looks like a nice scooter. Given the large influx of Vietnam-provenance LD's that I've seen, this one is the real Italian deal. Just from the one photo, it appears that it was redone by someone who knew something about Lambrettas. You can see all of the hardware on the forks was off for paint (always a good sign), and it checks all of the boxes for a nice LD. The only quibble I have is the painted centerstand. This appears to be a fair deal for both parties.
This video captures the attitude of just about every vehicle subculture that I have had the pleasure in which to partake. It reminds me a lot of what scooter culture was like here in the US in the 90's. I guess that as the values of vintage scooters has risen, the amount of "new blood" in the scene has declined. I think that many people who would have gotten a Vespa have gotten a moped. No matter, the moped scene is vibrant and interesting these days in the US. Some of the custom mopeds I have seen are truly amazing. It doesn't take a lot of cash to make a badass moped, but it surely does take some skill...
This is a very rare 1937 Moto-Scoot, made by Moto-Scoot Mfg. Co. Chicago, Illinois. It has an accessory headlight and tail light with an NOS battery tube holder. The rear body is all cast aluminum. This scooter had a completely rebuilt 4-bolt head Lauson engine - the original engine for this scooter. There was no clutch on this year, it was bump-start and go. I believe that the later models had a clutch, and these clutchless ones are quite rare.
This scooter sold at auction in Las Vegas for $7,000
I just spotted this porcelain Vespa sign on Ebay. It looked a bit strange, and when I looked closer, I realized it is a reproduction. The give-away was its size (small) and what looks like some overlap on the red and blue on the circle. The Vespa logo does not look right either, it just looks too fat, more like the modern logo, not like the old one. Also, all of the old signs I have seen have the Vespa logo going horizontal, and this one, it is tilted up, like on the scooter legshield. It looks like it should be that way, but the real signs did not have the logo like that. Normally I would not care, but this guy is asking $400 for this thing.
This 1960 MV Agusta Chicco scooter just sold in Las Vegas for $5,750. It was part of a massive collection of MV's. The owner had amassed one of every model of MV Agusta made. Fantastic. Too bad they were not sold as a lot, and are now scattered.
MV introduced the Chicco Scooter at the Milan Motorcycle Show in November 1959. It was popular, staying in production until 1964. While it had a conventional scooter profile, under the bodywork was a motorcycle-like powerplant. The 5.8 HP 155cc single-cylinder, 2-stroke engine had a horizontal cylinder and primary drive via a chain. The driven wheel cantilevered directly onto the gearbox output shaft. This engine had no relation with any other MV product and was specifically intended for this bike. Forced air-cooling kept the engine in one piece. The body used monocoque pressed-steel construction with a fixed front mudguard. Price in 1960 was 157,500 Lire.
I just love this photo. There are so many layers to it. Clearly from the context, this was taken in North Africa - Tunisa, Algeria? I'm guessing this was late 60's or maybe even early 70's. How did this Rumi get there? It was pretty rare even when new, and was not cheap. It must have taken a lot of skill for the woman to keep her head scarf on while riding!
Stanley from Holland with Vespressi has done a great re-purpose of a classic Vespa Ape. We here at Scooterlounge sure love Apes, and Stanley's is really nice. He has, clearly, set it up as a mobile coffee shop. We also love coffee, so you our excitement is two-fold! I can't imagine a more fantastic way to grab a cup of joe than standing aside this wonderful Ape! It also looks like he makes a really nice cappuccino.
If you find yourself in the Utrecht area, you really owe it to yourself to find where they are set up. You can follow their route here.
You can check out photos of the restoration here.
The beginning of the year is when the big motorcycle auctions take place in Vegas. This year there were only a few scooters among the choice bikes up for sale at the Bonhams auction. You can check out all of the bikes that were for sale on their site. Be amazed at the eye-popping insane $480,000 paid for a 1939 BMW race motorcycle. I'm sorry, I do love me some motorcycles, but the fact that someone paid almost half a million dollars for a single bike is a sign of the horrible skewing of wealth in this country. If you were the buyer, would you not be ashamed to show your face after such ridiculous "let them eat cake" excess? I would...
Anyhow, there were a few scooters for sale.
First up is this handsome 1969 Lambretta 125 DL. This one is painted in one of the original colors, but no mention if it is original paint. The auction listing indicated that the motor was punched out to 175, and clearly the original forks have been changed or modified for use with front dampers. Does this affect value? I would say that those are attractive modifications if this is for someone who wants to ride it. Are those people at a Bonhams auction in Las Vegas? Clearly not, since this scooter did not sell. Either the punters wanted something more stock and original, or the reserve was un-realistic. Auction estimate was $5,000-$7000, which I think was pretty ambitious for a 125. I've seen several sell in the $4000 range about 5 years ago, though none have come up for sale recently, that I know of. This one looks tidy, but I think that originality is king when it comes to high dollar scooters these days.
Next is this very cool 1957 Victoria R200. It looks very German, no doubt about it. I have to say that I've never seen one of these, and I doubt any made it to American shores. This one just oozes patina. You can just see a hint of the touring stickers on the front mudguard in this photo. The paint appears to be original. You can be sure that nobody else will be rolling one at your local scooter rally. This scoot sold for a very reasonable $1495. Quite well bought for a rare scooter. I would have certainly bid on it if I were in Vegas.
There were surprisingly many mopeds up for auction this year. This Flandria Kingline Deluxe was the coolest of the lot. Just look at it! It has the styling excess of a late-50's Detroit behemoth, but all packed into a 50cc moped. I love it. Sold for $2185, and most certainly worth it.
Sorry guys, it has been quite awhile since I have posted on the blog. You know how it is, life has been pretty hectic, and I have not had a lot of time. But I'm back now, and hopefully posting most every day.
So, I have been working on my friend's SX200 over the holidays. I had previously done quite a bit on it in order to revive it from its decades long slumber. I had gotten it running ok, but it had one residual issue. It would run with the key in the "ignition on" position, but as soon as I put on the lights, the ignition would die. I first thought that the problem lie in the key switch. After talking to some folks about the issue, it seemed that I should look in another direction. Bad grounds can cause ignition problems with a old/weak ignition system. This scoot still is on the all-original points system. I checked the spark, and it is consistent, but not the biggest fattest spark I've seen.
With all that in mind, I set to work on the electrical system. I basically went through it from back to front. I took all of the connections apart, and cleaned all of them. Certainly tedious work, but with electrical stuff, you really have to be methodical. The photo above is of the rear light, and the wiring connections. I cleaned all the wires, the connector, the bulb, and the bulb connector tangs. I did the same with the junction box, the headlight connectors, etc.
Here is the high/low switch. It is really in rough shape. When I took off the cover, the switch fell apart in my hand. It is still operable, so I cleaned it all out, and put it back together. The action on it is not super-positive, but it does work. Best to keep it, since it is the original switch. At some point when it totally craps out, then it will be replacement time.
After cleaning every connector, I started the scooter, and it worked! Yay! It really was just bad connections in the wiring. I feel like I generally have a good understanding of electrics, but this one was, and still is a bit of a stumper. I thought that the ignition and the lighting circuits were separate, running from separate coils on the stator plate. I have no idea why poor grounding on the lighting circuit would have any effect on the ignition. In any case, the results speak for themselves. This scoot is back on the road!
Merry Christmas everyone from your friends at Scooterlounge. We hope a nice shiny scooter is under your tree this year!
I have not had any time to work in the garage recently. But I dug up this photo I took of a Vespa Sprint that I worked on several months ago. It was having problems with flooding and poor idle, as well as a headlight that had vibrated apart. After some fiddling, I traced the running problems to a faulty float housing on the carb. A new one of those did the trick, and she ran great. I took the headlight out, and did a little surgery on it. I got some heavy duty adhesive, and got it all back together and rattle-free. I may have done some other work on the scooter too, but it was so long ago now that I can't remember.
The bag that is on the seat probably costs more than the scooter does...
A friend of mine has a nice Vespa Primavera ("Sears" VMA1) that has been sitting for awhile after being restored. It would start, but would not idle properly. So he brought it over to the garage for a little fiddling...
When it got to me, it would start and idle, but would not rev out properly, and seemed to bog when I got on the throttle. All points lead to the carburator.
Last weekend I got some time to work on a few scooters that had found their way to my garage. First up is the PX150 that is the daily ride of Steve, one of the Scooterlounge backbone support team. It seems that something strange had happened, and although the motor would start and it would go through the gears, the scooter would not move. Steve suspected that something in the clutch had given out. Time to find out...
I'm just back from a week vacation for the Thanksgiving holiday. I have some projects lined up in the garage for the weekend. Hopefully I will have some time to get to them. If I do, expect some fix-it posts coming up next week!
I've beenw working on an SX Lambretta recently. It has some big, and some little things to attend to. One of the little things was that it was missing the rear frame badge. It isn't a big deal, but it is these little details that really pull a scooter together. This is a job that just about anyone can do. I got a nice reproduction badge from Jet200. Then, I had to pull the frame holder. It is held on by two nuts under the frame. In typical Lambretta fashion, it isn't just two nuts, but the whole assembly uses a stupid amount of parts. There is the frame holder with two studs, two nuts, two flat washers, two lock washers, and two clips that make the nuts have a flat surface to tighten up. Silly really...
Of course, even the easiest jobs get complicated on an old vehicle. This was no exception. One of the studs had problems with the threads (or was it one of the nuts?). So the nut had a hard time coming off. When it was off, I had to dress the threads on the studs with my handy metric die set. Replaced with a new nut, and she's good to go.
Here it is with the new badge,ready to install. I could have polished the aluminum, but opted not to. The whole scooter is very original, and has slight patina all over. If I start polishing, it won't ever end.
So you want a 60's Vespa Allstate? Well there are at least four of them on eBay right now, so it is a great time to be looking.
The one above, in Ohio, looks pretty decent, especially for the $1600 buy-it-now
Another one, in Massachusetts, looks quite nice and original, bidding starts at $2000.
Then there is this one, in Seattle, which looks like it was in perfect shape, until the recent owner took a spill on it. Buy-it-now for $2100.
Finally, this one in Missouri, looks tatty but complete. It is $1550 or best offer.
Yup, there are lots to choose from, all around $2000 or less. The Allstates are a good place to start off in the scooter hobby. They are cheap, look good, and are assuredly not "fake restorations." On the other hand, you often find all kinds of crazy farm-engineered bodges on them. Usually they are easy to sort and get back on the road. Take your pick!
I've been very busy recently with work and life, and have not had a lot of time to get into the garage. I was able to steal a bit of time to work on an SX200 that has found its way onto the lift. It is a fantastic scooter, probably the best un-restored SX that I've seen. It spent most of its life in the dry desert of Arizona. That is great to stop rust... it is as dry as a mummy's tomb there. However, the heat and dryness does a number on any rubber bits. I'm replacing a lot of those things on this scooter. I started off with the legshield trim. It was hard and cracked. I started by removing the clips at the top and bottom of both sides. Surprisingly, the bottoms were easy to get off, but the tops were stuck. I had to pull out my very useful hand-impact driver to get them off. One even required a generous application of heat before the retaining screw would budge. Once I had the clips off, the trim came off easily.
This is one of those neat accessories that you just don't see for sale very often - a fuel gauge. Of course, it is something that people didn't buy, because it isn't necessary. It fits where the fuel tank cap goes, and you can just look down to see how much gas you have. Of course, you could just look down in the tank yourself to see how much gas is in there too... which is why I guess they didn't sell too well. This one is quite cool, with the Lambretta logo on it, and the fuel measured in gallons. Find it for sale here on eBay. How much will it sell for? I predict somewhere around $80. What do you think?
This weekend I went to my favorite car/motorcycle show. It is the All-Italian Day show on Alameda Island, across the bay from San Francisco. I really like the show because it brings out some really amazing vehicles in an environment that minimizes the pretension that some of these types of events can sometimes have.
This year, I eschewed my normal scooter steed, and rode my 1957 Gilera 150 motorcycle. The ride there from my house didn't really make up for missing the California Moto Giro this year, but at least I got the bike out of the garage!
As usual, there were some truly fantastic cars and motorcycles out for the show. On the motorcycle side, the highlights for me were the collection of 50's MV Augustas, and the treat of seeing more than one "round case" Ducati 750SS at the same spot. The cars were just as stunning as they always were. You know you are in someplace great when the 60's Ferraris are so plentiful that they sort of blur into one beautiful unobtainable blob. My favorite car was slightly more pedestrian (if just as unobtainable for me), a 60's Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce in blue. It was a very tidy and very wonderful car. I doubt I'll ever be able to afford one... Oh well, I guess I get to see some of the best every year at this show!
I took quite a few photos. If you would like to check them out, click here.
Well, there is a bit of buzz going around that Piaggio will FINALLY do what they should have done 15 years ago... make a four stroke automatic version of the classic Vespa. Supposedly, they are going to be selling it in the US as well. Crazy awesome if true. If they are lucky, it will sell much better than the classic PX150, that was a big dud here. I'd say part of the reason that the PX didn't sell was that it was crazy expensive. If they price the new four stroke PX similar to what has been reported ($3500 for a 125, $4000 for a 200), it will be a big seller.
You can find more information here.
This guy is committed... I hope he still loves scooters 15 years from now...
In honor of last weekend's inaugural Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride, I give you a snappy-dressed guy on a fast Lambretta. Yeah, I know the ride was really for cafe racers, but hey, what's a bunch of posh rockers without some mods to mess with?!
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... While you may think you are looking at a mid-50's Vespa, these two scooters are actually the Soviet-made Viatkas. The Vyatka was quite similar to the Vespa, but was heavier and slower. It had larger wheels, and it looks like from the photo above, a grab handle at the back to pull it out of mud and snow. All in all, the Soviets could have done a lot worse than their Vespa clone. (The later models of Vyatka were Soviet designed. Though they were utilitairan, they were style-less boxes on wheels)
As far as I can tell, the Vespa-clone version of the Vyatka was made from around 1957 to 1965. Supposedly three-hundred thousand were made. If true, that is a pretty huge number, even compared to the real Vespa. However, consider the harsh Russian climate, poor roads, and legendary poor build quality of Soviet vehicles... and as you can imagine, not many seem to have survived. A handful of these have made it to the US. Have never seen one in person, but there was actually one for sale recently in Utah. I can't say that I would want one myself, but it is a very interesting side-note on the Vespa story.
The custom Lambretta from Supertune was a special dealer custom that was made in the UK in the late-60's. The company Supertune had several versions of their special, and I believe they called this 200cc version the "Rallye." They started with a SX200, and went to town on it. The most obvious alteration was that they lowered the headset down by cutting the fork and the legshield. You can see the difference between the custom and the stock SX200 in the top photo. Then, there is the custom paint, which is quite cool, if you ask me. They also added ball-end levers for safety in competition. On the inside of the scooter, they did some work to the top end. Mainly through porting, and increasing compression by lowering the cylinder head. The idea was that the scooter would still be eligible to compete in scooter racing in the stock engine class. It was a very sweet scooter that commands a tidy sum today, if you can find one of the few that were made.
Gotta agree with this one
Back in 1951, the giant retail pioneer Sears took a gamble and imported 1,000 Vespa 125s to see if they would sell. The gamble paid off, and for the next 15 years or so you would find Vespas listed in their massive yearly mail-order catalog. (No kidding, it was MASSIVE; find one from the 50's or 60's. It'll blow your mind.)
Sears re-branded everything as their house brand "Allstate", and wasn't shy about mixing different makes together so they'd have a variety of scooters & small motorbikes to suit as many customers as possible. You'd find Cushmans, Puchs, and who knows what else side by side in the catalog every year . . . as this 1954 page testifies. Scroll down for a close-up of the good stuff.
Dano, head of the Scooterlounge IT team, was having some problems with his lights on his SX 200. So we decided to have a little evening session to get them sorted out. The SX is totally stock, with the exception of electronic ignition. So we worked, like any good detective, going through the electrics methodically, part by part. First we checked that there was power from the stator. Yes. Then we checked for power to the loom. Yes. Then we moved up to the headset, and checked the connections up there. Ultimately, we found a bad ground in the wiring junction at the headlight. That is a common source of lighting problems. Problem solved.
One thing I wanted to highlight was Dano's regulator. Dano had Lambretta expert dial in his scooter, Derek in San Jose. Derek modified an old Lambretta regulator/rectifier box so that it could discretely hide a small regulator. He cut the bakelite internals and discarded the old electrical items. Using the old connectors at the top, he soldered in the needed connections for the regulator to the loom. When the cover is on, you can't tell that it is anything but stock. Very very nicely done!
This is the follow-up to this post where I discovered the dead piston in my friend Andrew's P200.
It took me a bit of time, but I got a new top end shipped in. I also figured that I should just tear the motor apart and inspect everything. I'm glad I did.
This is a shot of the motor when I got it most of the way apart. As you can see, the gears are out. At this point, next steps were to take out the crank and work on the shift cross.
There have not been a lot of Lambrettas cropping up on eBay in the last few months. Maybe people were out riding! Now there are a few decent looking scoots for sale on the East Coast. First is a Series II Li 150 in New Hampshire. The seller does not seem to know what they have, and what little information they post is wrong. I would approach this one with care... maybe it is a scam?
Then, there is this very original looking Jet 200 Serveta near Philadelphia. It is just the kind of scoot you like to see. It has some rust, and some neglect, but appears to be un-messed with. It still has the refectors on the front fender, though the front turn signals are removed. If you cleaned it up, you could drive it as-is. Right now it is only at $850 (reserve not met). This could end up being a bargain if the reserve isn't too crazy.
Do you fancy yourself a scooter collector? Then prepare to be humbled... A collector in Austria is selling out what seems like a lifetime of scooter collecting in one big lot. He has pulled together a vast group of scooters from many different manufacturers. Note, there's not a Vespa or Lambretta to be seen among them. Too pedestrian, I suppose... If you would like to set up your own museum, check out the listing here on eBay. I can't imagine how much it would cost to ship all these scooters from Austria to anywhere, but I guess if you have the money to buy them all, you have the money to ship them. I sure am curious to see where they end up!
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Just click the orange RSS feed button at the top of your browser, and voila!, you are subscribed. New posts will fly through the interwebz tubes directly to your computer. No pesky clicking, no annoying thinking, it just magically shows up there. How, you ask? I don't know. The eggheads in IT explained it to me, but all I heard was "bleep, bloop, blorp, nerd, nerd nerd". No matter... subscribe to our new RSS and I'll promise to pet my cute and fuzzy doggie for you. My dog thanks you in advance.
I think this is a fantastic photo. Great lighting, great contrast, great personality... I found it randomly on the internet, so I don't know who shot it. If you do, let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.
This was taken in front of a legendary store called "Spag's Supply" in my town (Shrewsbury, MA). This guy had the whole idea of bulk buying and mixing different items under one roof in an efficient shopping environment down pat way before WalMart or Costco even existed. It was a New England institution for decades, then the owner passed away. His daughters took over, hired consultants who immediately screwed everything up and pissed off the legions of loyal customers, and the business died. If they just kept running it the way their father did, it would still exist today. Very sad.
Scooters from the early 50's may be relatively easy to find in Europe, but they are pretty scarce here in the US. Innocenti sold quite a few LD's in the US in the later 50's, but the spartan Lambretta D was not a big seller over here. So when I see a D for sale, it is notable. Here on eBay with no reserve, we have the typical barn find scooter from the mid-west. It has a generous coat of house paint or spray paint. The farm-engineered solution for a rusty gas tank is clearly in evidence in the photo, as are the duct-tape seat covers. That said, this scooter looks pretty complete and not too rusty. It is pretty beat down though. Given the relatively low value of the D, is it worth trying to restore? Probably not on a financial basis, but it sure would be fun as a project.
I've had my buddy Andrew's P200 sitting in my garage for awhile now. (Too long... sorry Andrew!) He has owned it for awhile, but never got it running right. I took it, and did some basic troubleshooting, which in turn discovered more issues. After a new carb, new CDI, new clutch, new clutch seal, and some electrical wiring, it still wasn't running right. I finally got some time to tear into the motor this week. After pulling the top end, here was the piston. A dead duck! Crazy, but this thing still ran ok. Not great, but ok. Given the other things I've found so far, I'm just going to take the whole motor apart to inspect the rest of it. It should run nice when I'm done.
I'm off to a camping trip this weekend. I sure wish I was rolling to it like this guy. What an adventure on the mega-est of mega-scooters! Great photo.
My very good friend Scott V. approached me with this really great scooter story a few weeks ago. This one is just much too great to keep to myself. Like all good stories, it is a little bit funny, a little bit sad, and almost all true... Enjoy!
Nowadays, when I go around and talk to people in a social fashion, it comes up that I have a penchant for old Italian scooters. Invariably, this confession renders the same reaction in people that it would if I told them that I was really into stuffed animals.
But it wasn't always like that. The general awareness and appreciation for old scooters was far more widespread before the big decline that occurred in the early 2000's. There was a time, in the late 90's where the scooter scene was thriving in the U.S. Ride-outs in San Francisco would have several hundred vintage scooters. It was quite a sight to behold, especially at night. Imagine riding through the huge dragon gates in San Francisco's Chinatown, rolling over 200 scooters deep. On the longer stretches, the line of scooters would strech over a mile from the crest of one hill to the next.
But, for whatever reason: the internet, bike scarcity, the return of new scooters to the US market, or just scene burnout, things here kind of fell apart quickly... as I assume you, dear reader, are well aware. But, right before that, right at the apex, the final moment of glory, the scooter scene was, as they say, going off, and everybody wanted in on it.
I was able to take some time this weekend and join the fun at this year's San Francisco Classic. The custom show was at my favorite club, the DNA Lounge. It was great to see old friends and catch up with people that I have not seen in awhile. It was hard to take photos of the scooters inside the dark club, but I got some nice shots of the bikes outside.
Click below the jump for more photos!
So, I'm not so sure that this is a scooter. It is a sort of glorified moped, like a Honda Cub. However, while Honda sold many millions of the Cub, Jawa sold significantly less of the 05A. For what it is, the Jawa bike looks pretty good. It is certainly a rare bird in the US. However, this one looks like it will go cheap. At $500, it is just the thing to stick on the back of your giant RV! If you want to make a play for it, you can find it here on eBay in Charlotte, N.C.
This photo really is evocative of a certain time in Italy. You can just imagine that the owner of this Vespa must have really felt like he "made it" when he bought it. Just look at the background. There are no cars on the street. There are no other scooters or motorcycles. The only thing on the road is a chicken in the foreground and a horse cart in the far background. That really tells you something... Just to put it into perspective, this was only 60 years ago.
This was a promotional still from Universal Pictures movie studios. It was for the movie "I've Lived Before." The actress is Leigh Snowden.
BMW are launching a new luxury scooter this year. There was a time in the 50's when they toyed with the idea of competing with the likes of Vespa and Lambretta. They ultimately decided not to build their own scooter, but stick to motorcycles and bubble cars. It seems that the prototype BMW scooter still exists. This is it! Quite a substantial scooter. Note that you can just see the prototype Vespa peaking out from behind the BMW.
Photo from the always excellentVintagent blog.
Back in the 70's, some a guy from Southern California rode the Baja 500 on a Vespa Rally 180. From the photos of the scooter, he didn't really do a lot to modify the scooter. About all I could see was a legshield mounted spotlight, and a modification to the exhaust to have it go up and over the motor. I think he also removed the front mudguard. Needless to say, he didn't finish the race. The only information I could find on it was that he had "carburetor problems."
Well, the Baja 500 is now the Baja 1000, and it is mainly the purview of big race trucks, and off-road motorcycles. Some guys think that they can do it on vintage Vespas. I wish them luck. The video above was about the only thing I could find on their site. I think it is the jalopy that one of the guys plans on riding. I'm guessing this is the pre-modified scooter. I wonder what he plans on doing to it!
You can find more information on their preparations here at Scootin the Baja 1000.
One of the non-Italian scooters that I really love is the Heinkel Tourist. They just look like they came from outter space to me. When you see one on the road, you don't forget it, that's for sure. This one just showed up for sale, and the seller claims that it has less than 200 original miles on the clock. I'd really want to look at it in person before I believed that story. There are a few things in the photos that look like they could be non-original. Who knows... I'm not a Heinkel expert. Personal inspection would tell the tale! If I was on the East Coast, I'd probably make a play for this scooter. Someday one will come up for sale near me! The Heinkel can be found on ebay here.
This is a cool press photo of a Vespa dealer in Colorado back in the day. The Rally 180 is nice, and shows some of the special US-only features. It has oil injection, the small sealed-beam headlight with a chrome bezel, small reflectors on the front mudguard, and you can just barely make out the CEV tail light at the back. Note, he's wearing cowboy boots! How cool is that! The smallframe in the background looks like a Vespa 90. If so, it would be one that was still kicking around from the first series bunch that were imported in 1964.
I'm back from vacation, and posting should resume its normal pace.
I'm going to be on the road for a few days, and I don't expect to have computer access. Posting will resume late next week. See you then!
Back in the day, Vespa and Lambretta were not the only scooters in the game. Just about every major motorcycle manufacturer tried to pull in some profits from the large scooter market in the 50's. One of those companies was TWN in Germany. They built the Tessy. A very few of these made it to the US, and it looks like one survivor is now for sale on eBay.
Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally, I don't find the Tessy to be particularly pretty. Odd, yes, but pretty, no. This one looks like a fine basis for a restoration, if that is your thing. It looks like it is almost totally original. From the paint to the seat, it all looks old, but stock. On the other hand, it is missing the side covers, which could be a major problem. Certainly you are unlikely to find those in the US, and would have to search in Europe. There are quite a few bids on this thing already, and it is up above $500. Withe four days still to go on the auction, where will it land?
I've been working on a VBA on-and-off for quite awhile. Eventually the owner decided to put the original motor on a shelf, and install a newer P125 motor for increased reliability and power. I built the motor up for him, and installed it in the scoot. Now it was time for it to return to its owner. He lives about an hour and a half drive from me, across several bridges and long highway stretches, so trucking it was the best answer.
I've seen too many scooters just leaned over in a truck, or tied with rope... if you do that, you're doing it wrong. Here's how I move scooters. First, I get my truck ready. Note: it helps to have a friend assist with loading, but I almost always end up going solo. I try to move my truck so that I have some sort of raised area behind the rear wheels. This makes the distance up to the rear gate much less. My old house had a nice curb, and it was super easy to load. As you can see in the photo above, my current joint doesn't have such a luxury, so I use a light rise in the street. I also point the truck down the hill, so as to use gravity to my advantage.
As you see, everything is set up, the ramp is obvious. Less obvious are the tie downs, which I have set on top of the edge of the truck bed, so I can reach them when I get the scooter up there.
I'm guessing that this was an ad for a company that was importing Indian-made Lambrettas back into Italy, after Innocenti stopped production. Nonetheless, it is a great ad. What a photo!
Robin B. is a friend who has been out of the scooter game for awhile. Recently, he decided to get another scoot. He's looked at quite a few, but settled on this really fine red 1974 Rally 200. I think he did quite well for himself with this one!
Sorry for the lack of posting, but I've been on vacation. I'm back for a week, then I'll be off again for another week. One of these days I'll figure out how to set posts to publish on a set date. In the mean time, it is just me pressing "publish."
Anyhow, Edward from the Philippines sent in a photo of his cool Vespa Sprint. Cool ride man!
Apologizes for the light posting the last few days. I just finished riding the Moto Melee. The Melee is an annual three-day motorcycle rally through around 900 miles of the best back roads that Northern California has to offer. The ride is open to pre-1971 motorcycles (and scooters). I've done this ride many times, and it really is one of the highlights of the year for me. Though Vespas and Lambrettas have been known to make the rally, I was astride my '62 BMW R50/2 motorcycle. Friday night, I finished checking over the bike, adjusting the valves and torquing the heads, and generally just making sure everything was tightened down for the abuse I was about to heap on it. I set off on Saturday morning from home, pointed the bike toward the meeting spot in San Francisco's Presido, and didn't look back. The ride was specatular. The BMW performed fine, and got me home in one piece. I have a lot to say, but have been so busy getting back into life at work and home, that I have not had time to put it down. I'll do another post in the next few days with photos for you to see.
My good friend Pelayo was riding his Lambretta a few months ago when it just cut out on him. After a little fiddling on the side of the road, he thought that he had lost compression and trucked the scooter home. With a bit of juggling of our very busy schedules, we finally got some time where we could meet up and give the scooter a once-over. Our late-night session began with getting the beast up on the lift. As you see it above, we had already gottent the panels and the rear floorboards off.
This video has two of my favorite things in it... scooters ('natch), and Big Lebowski references. I don't know the members of the Lebowski Scooter Gang, but I know I would like them already. I want to go to Italy and ride with these guys! This video is really well done.
This photo is a great action shot of a rider at a competition or gymkhana event. I guess that this was taken somewhere in Italy. (The legshield banner says "Rally di Roma") Note the very stylish audience. There was a time when scooter events like this were a big draw for spectators. The rider is wearing some serious overalls, but notice the fact that he is just wearing some sort of slip on shoe. In Italy, even when competing, one can't afford to be seen in ugly footwear! The scooter is a GS, maybe a VS4. I like the custom two-tone paint on the scooter. There is a pole on the left of the photo with a bell on it. I am guessing that the rider had to ring the bell as part of this event. I'm not sure who took this great photo, it is sure is cool!
The Maico-Mobil has to be one of the most impressive scooters ever made. The Maico Mobil was made from 1951-58, and came in 150cc, 175cc, and 200cc versions. Sort of a cross between a scooter and a motorcycle, this beast demands respect by its imposing presence. The front fender - huge, the rear trunk - huge... just amazing. Tires must have been going flat all the time in the 50's to justify having a full size spare haning off the back of this thing. What a machine!
Photo: Hartmut Ide, Clipsius
Members of the Lambretta Club Modena showing off their scooters to some American military officers.
A friend of mine has a Lambretta Series I that he thinks may have a tweaked frame. There is some info on the frame specs for the Series III scooters, but not much on the internet about the Series I/II. So I pulled out some of my old manuals, and came up with the crucial measurement. If you have a suspect Lambretta frame, check the distance from the chrome ring to the top of the toolbox. The distance should be 17 inches, +/- 1/8 inch.
Kristi, a friend of the site, sent us a few great photos of her and a nice red Allstate Vespa. I already posted one, here's another. Thanks Kristi! She's involved with www.Americanpinups.tv, which you may want to check out. The photographer was Rene Soliz with Soliz Images photography.
Two Vespa GS's and an Iso. The Iso rider really looks the part... but my guess is that the scooter would be terribly outmatched by the Vespas.
I did some work on my friend's brakes awhile ago, and now have had a few moments to write it up. As you may recall, his back brakes were bad. But so were the fronts, so here is how I went about replacing them.
This is the business end of the front fork in all its glory. Note that the rubber on the bottom of the shock is in rough shape. I chose to ignore it, since it was still functional. That's an easy enough fix, if my buddy wants to takle it himself. Now, on to the disassembly!
Too bad I have had technical problems with comments, because this would be a great photo for a caption contest.
Here's my caption: "Da, Comrade, even Central Committee approves of the Lambretta 50's clunky and awkward styling... reminds them of beautiful traktor No.7 on collective farm..."
Here's something I don't think too many vintage scooter fans have seen before: two different vintage Meyers Aircraft sidecars (Vespa models) compared side by side.
The history of steel-bodied scooter sidecars manufactured in America is kind of sketchy, but from what I've learned, a company called Meyers Aircraft in Georgia built steel-bodied sidecars for various motorscooters starting in the mid/late 1950s and into the mid 1960s. We've seen these on Vespas, Lambrettas, and Harley Toppers; they were probably available for other brands too, it's just not easy to find pictures or documentation on anything other than those three marques. The two shown here are both Vespa models; the early blue one is for 1950's widebodies, the later white one is for 1960's largeframes.
(Continued below the jump)
A vespa is a pretty rugged machine... but still, I think the result here is a foregone conclusion. Where is the bazooka Vespa when you need one?
I believe this is translated as, "And it was me that wanted to drop you!"
I'm a sucker for scooter memorabilia. Specifically, I'm into old dealer items... like signs, brochures, manuals, tools, and obscure stuff like that. Over the years, I've gotten a bit of a collection. However, sometimes you just come across something that is essentially unique. That is what I have here with this Fuji Rabbit dealer sign. I've seen a lot of different Vespa and Lambretta signs, but never one for a Rabbit. Not many Rabbits were sold in the US, and I can't imagine many dealers bothered to get a sign.
This one is a cut above. The sign is essentially in as-new condition. It is perfect. The color is bright, and there is no flaw in it anywhere. It still has a "made in Japan" stamp on one of the sides. It is a double sided sign, and both sides are the same. The lettering and logo are made from cut pieces of plastic that are about the same width as the white part of the sign. This thing is fantastic.
Of course, I don't have a Fuji Rabbit scooter... which is kind of a shame. Anyone know of a Rabbit collector that is dying to have a rare piece for their garage?
What a cool sidecar rig. This photo was taken at Vespa World Days 2010 by Hugojcardoso.
Kristi, a friend of the site, sent us this great photo of her, a cute doggie, and a nice red Allstate Vespa. Thanks Kristi! She's involved with www.Americanpinups.tv, which you may want to check out. The photographer was Rene Soliz with Soliz Images photography. Rene did a great job, don't you think!
This is a nice action shot at a gymkhana event in the 50's. I'm guessing by the stylish dress of the spectators that this was photographed in Italy. The scooter is a GS150 VS3 or VS4. It really is amazing to me that there was a time that gentlemen would go out to an event like this in a suit and tie. La Dolce Vita indeed!
This is a really rare photo of a MV Agusta scooter. MV Agusta were a manufacturer of some pretty serious racing motorcycles up to the late 70's. Though they made many street-going motorcycles, I guess even they could not resist dipping their toe into the huge scooter market in Italy after the war. They made a few different scooters starting around 1949. This appears to be an early 50's model called the "Ovunque." Not the sexiest name... It had a 125 two stroke motor with a three speed gearbox. Power was around 5 hp. This scooter was made with either one, or two exhausts. This is the one exhaust model. Note the accessory child seat located just in front of where the kid is sitting. Safety was a top priority!
This Lambretta used to be owned by my friend Scott V. He sold it probably 10 years ago. I have no idea who owns it now, or who took this photo. It still looks pretty much how it did when Scott was riding it around San Francisco. This was originally a police scooter in New Jersey. There were just a handful of these D.L.'s sold in the U.S., and from what I can tell they were only sold to municipalities.
Sure, Ewan and Charley famously filmed their ride around the globe. And some crazy guys from my area rode mopeds from San Francisco to the Tierra Del Fuego. But really, what is a rally that isn't held at 17,000 feet? This really seems like the sort of thing that begins with a dare after a long session at the local pub.
I can't wait to see if anyone takes them up on it.
My friend Nick had me take a look at his Lambretta awhile back, and I realized that it essentially had no brakes. So I ordered up some new brake shoes and got to work! I'll focus on the rear brakes now, and show you the front brakes in a later post.
This is one of those jobs that just about anyone can doe with some basic tools. The only real special tool you need is the rear hub remover.
This is a pretty rare period photo of a very stylish woman and an early Vespa 90. I believe that this first version of the Vespa 90 was only sold in the U.S. for one year, 1964. It came in this red color, and a powder blue. Note the leather camera front cover sitting on the scooter floorboards - you don't see those anymore!
When hunting for vintage scooters, always follow up on every lead, no matter how unlikely it may appear. Yeah, most of the time it's a wild goose chase, or a some old guy's moped. But every now and then you strike gold. You never know what it is until you see for yourself.
This particular find was described to me as "a rusty old thing, kinda tapered at the back . . . doesn't look like your Vespa there." Lo and behold, it turned out to be a 1948 Salsbury. Rusty, damaged, missing engine, but an honest-to-goodness holy grail of American scooters - a Salsbury Model 48, sitting quietly in the woods behind an abandoned house.
Sadly, this tale doesn't have a happy ending. What happened next? Loaded it on my truck. Cops came; said I was trespassing; had to unload it. Tracked down the property owner. He told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't want me (or anyone) on the property. Time goes by; I approach the property owner again; he had sold the property; I track down the new property owner. He gives his blessing for me to remove the old rusty thing (also tells me if the cops show up tell them to call him so he can confirm he gave permission to me); I drive over to pick it up and it's GONE. Scrapped, most likely.
But hey, I owned a Salsbury for 5 whole minutes! I'll find another someday. And until it does, I follow up on every lead.
Velocette made some pretty great motorcycles. They were famous for their middle weight singles, and their high quality construction. Alas, in the post-war period, they had some pretty major styling mis-cues. Their biggest was the Velocette LE motorcycle, which was a sort of cross between a motorcycle and a scooter. It was homely, and quite expensive. Those were bad qualities when competing with the Italians, who made beautiful and cheap scooters. The LE almost bankrupted Velocette, but luckily for them, municipal governments bought them for police use. Velocette also made the Viceroy scooter, as seen here. I'm sure this scooter was well made... but boy was it ugly! I think it remained a secret, as the brochure says, since I doubt many were sold.
This last Sunday was the annual LALO Rally in San Francisco. LALO - the "Loose Association of Lambretta Owners" - has a rally that is really low key and always a ton of fun. Last year, we hosted part of the LALO across the bay in Oakland, but this year was San Francisco only. It is always great to see old friends, since this is usually the first scooter rally of the year. The weather this year was typical for SF. Half of the city was sunny and wonderful, and the other half was foggy and cold.
The photo above (taken by Pelayo L.) was a shot of us riding over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco into the Marin Headlands. You can see the fog totally covering the bridge... which is pretty normal. I'm the guy on the right side of the photo on the white Lambretta
Ford M., had a camera strapped to his helmet, and got a nice video of the ride across the bridge. I have it linked below. You can get a sense of what it was like to ride with the 40 or so of us die-hard Lambretta folks. It is hard to imagine how there can be such a huge amount of nice open space just 10 minutes outside of San Francisco. The video below gives you an idea. As we get over the bridge, we ride into the Marin Headlands, which used to be a military base, and is now open hiking trails and wonderful vistas.
Tons and tons of photos of the LALO below the jump
So I had made some progress on the orange GP, and gotten the old girl running. However, when I took her out for a test ride, she was having trouble. The scooter bogged at high rpm's. I'm thinking that it is a fuel starvation issue. So I pulled the fuel tap, and installed a new one. This is one of those jobs that is dead easy. The only real trick is that you pretty much have to pull off the carburator to get the fuel rod linkages connected. Here is the new one on the scooter. I had just enough time to get this on before I left for my vacation. However, I didn't have the time to actually put some fresh gas in and test it out. Maybe this weekend!
Here is one that I've never seen before. This is a Moto Guzzi scooter. I'm thinking that this was a prototype, and never actually went into production. It is a more fully formed scooter than the one that Guzzi is known for, the Galetto. This scooter is located at the Moto Guzzi museum in Italy. Does anyone know the story on this scoot? What is it? Was it ever actually put into production?
Photos by Scott Burton
Vintage vehicle ownership is not all about full restorations and making things shiny. No, it is mostly an exercise in keeping entropy at bay. Often, it is the really small things that end up taking much, much longer than you anticipated that end up being the focus of your efforts.
As a case in point, I give you my recent job of replacing the center stand rubber feet on the orange GP 150 that I've been working on.
Above, you see the existing feet as they were when the scooter was wheeled into my garage. The rubber was all rubbed away, and it the metal on the feet was starting to get ground down. Clearly, way past time for replacement. I figured it would take me about 15 minutes to pull these off and put on some nice new feet that I got from Jet200/Casa Lambretta.
I was wrong.
You know, although scooters are pretty small, they do take up some space in the garage. At some point, if you are not Jay Leno, you max out space for storage. At that point, what do you do if you still are crazy for scooters? Well, you start collecting scooter-related memorabilia. I've been doing it for years. I was inspired by a good friend of mine, Ansgar Fulland in Germany, who built one of the best alltime scooter sites, Vespa Das Archiv. He had collected brochures, and when I saw his collection of memorabilia and it really impressed me with its quality. He was also one of the first to scan brochures and paper material and put it up on the net. Well, I took that inspiration, and have built my own modest collection.
Here is a photo of one of my most recent aquisitions. It is (obviously) a Lambretta dealer sign. There are a few things that set this sign apart. First, is the fact that it is a US market only sign. There are quite a few of the big heavy porcelain European Lambretta signs that I have seen, but very few of these lighter US signs have survived. Second, is the non-obvious fact that this sign is NOS, or "new old stock". This sign has never been hung. It was in the original packing cardboard box from the manufacturer up until about six months ago. There is a slight bit of edge damage from storage at one corner, but otherwise this sign is perfect. It would be hard to find a better one. I'd been looking for one of these signs for at least a decade, and I'm happy that I finally found this one!
So before I left for vacation, I did some work on that orange GP150 that has been in my garage for awhile. I got it to the point where I was trying to get it finally running... and discovered that it was giving no spark. Sure, I could have futzed with it a bunch to try to coax some fire out of the old girl, but really, why bother? So I ordered me up a shiny new electronic set-up from Jet200/Casa Lambretta and pulled the old stuff for posterity.
Above, you see a shot of the old Ducati points stator while I had everything apart to clean out the top end. It looked fine in there, and there was no obvious reason why it would not spark. In the age of good quality and reasonably priced electronic ignitions, there really is no rational reason to waste time troubleshooting a Lambretta points igition - so I didn't!
Here is a shot of the new unit while setting up the timing. Everything fit pretty well with a minimum of fuss. This scooter was originally a battery model, but I set up the electronic as a AC unit. Don't fret you trainspotters... I kept all the original components should some new owner decide to do a 100 point restoration on this scooter. I also did absolutely no modifications to the wiring. It was all just plugged in to the new setup. Everything I did would be easily reversible in a matter of hours.
After I got it all on there, the scooter fired up for the first time in at least 10 years! It has been a lot of work on my part to get to this point. I basically had the motor apart to clean and check the top end, and replace the stuck clutch plates. It also now has a new exhaust as the old one was really rusty. My plan now is to get it finally dialed in as I'm able to ride it on the street. My vacation stopped me from finalizing the scooter, but I expect to have it in the hands of the expectant owner at some point this month. Stay tuned!
I had to spend some time digging around in my storage a few weeks ago. I had to move a bunch of stuff out to get to something tucked in the back of the storage. This is my 90SS. I found it when I was living in Germany in the mid-90's, and shipped it back with me when I returned to the US. It has been living in my storage for a long time. Shuffling things around, I had to pull the 90SS out of where it was squeezed between a motorcycle and a scooter. It has not seen the light of day in at least 5 years. It is one of those scooters that I have on the "list" to do a full restoration. You know the old saying "when you have the time, you have no money... when you have the money, you have no time." Well, that is the case with this thing. I've been planning to restore this scooter for at least 15 years now... someday I'll get to it...
Sorry for the light posting the last couple of weeks. I've just gotten back from a nice vacation in Mexico. I'm tanned, rested, and ready to get to work on the site!