Vespa Gran Lusso
The Gran Lusso (or G.L.) filled the niche in-between the top of the line G.S. or S.S. and the normal Vespa 150. The G.L. which began production in 1964 did indeed fit that description. The larger wheels put it in the high-line category, but it did not have the same powerful motor as the performance scooters.
The idea for a mid-line scooter had been around for quite awhile before Piaggio decided to make a separately styled model. Early versions were manufactured for specific European markets, and were basically a standard Vespa 150 with larger 10" wheels. They did not have any model specific styling or badging. One notable example of this early "G.L." would be the German market "Vespa Touring," of which many were made. However, none of these early "G.L." market-specific models were officially imported to the U.S.
The G.L. was a very elegant looking scooter, and became the model upon which the Super Sport was based. It was the a tentative first step for Piaggio into a more angular, and less round body style. The headset was a significant departure from previous models. The most obvious difference was that the headlight was no longer round, but trapezoid-shaped. This new headset was open on the bottom, and had threaded mounting points for a rear-view mirror or windscreen had a trapezoidal headlight. The speedometer from the VBB/G.S. was retained and was still the large clamshell style speedometer.
The cowls on the G.L. were more angular than on the VBB, and they are unique to this model. The cowls had a muted angular line to them, and were somewhat flat along the top edge. The right cowl covered the motor, and the air louvers were of identical length. The left cowl held a glovebox, and on models equipped with a battery, it was housed here along with related electrical components. The front fender was also new, and squarer. It was also unique to this model. Both the cowls and the front fender had curved aluminum flashes that were similar, but smaller, than those found on the G.S. 160.
The G.L. sported a new taillight that followed the new squarer look of the rest of the scooter. This Siem brand light was a larger, and more square interpretation of the old "acorn" taillight.The taillight had a chrome housing, and a one-piece red lens. There was also a small reflector inset into the lens. The shape can best be described as a small rectangle on top of a large rectangle. The horn was the same "clamshell" horn used on the VBB/G.S. Additionally, the forks, hubs, and wheels were painted to match the scooter. The G.L. only came painted in an ivory/cream color.
The two-port 150cc motor is similar to that on the VBB, and one should expect similar performance. Some internal changes were made to the motor to suit the gearing required for the 10" wheels. Additionally, some modifications were made to the top end that mildly increased performance. A Del'Lorto SI 20/17 carburetor was fitted on this model. The 10" wheels were identical to those on the G.S. 150, and the front fork used the separate dampener and spring set-up of the previous models. The steering lock was of a new design which was similar to one used on many motorcycles at the time. This locking mechanism was later fitted on all Vespas until the P-series models.
The Vespa G.L. is one of the most beautiful that Piaggio created. Even today, the design drips of classic style. On the road, the motor suffers a bit in today's traffic. The two port motors were not fast, even when new, and the addition of 10" wheels did not help acceleration. However, the 10" wheel configuration, and standard motor mounts mean that this scooter is well suited for a more modern engine replacement. Furthermore, there are performance modifications that can be made to the standard motor to give it a bit more power.
Parts availablitly for the motor and suspension is excellent. Many of these parts are interchangeable with either the VBB or later Sprint models. One can expect that virtually any wear item on the scooter can be easily and cheaply replaced if needed. However, the cowls and front mudguard were unique to the G.L., and are therefore extremely hard to find. I have been told that the mudguard is now being reproduced in Europe, but that it is not cheap. I would generally avoid buying a G.L. that has any missing frame pieces.
All in all, the G.L. is a fine scooter, and an excellent choice for a collector or rider.
- Rough but restorable = $600-1200
- Drivable, but not show = $1500-3000
- Restored or Excellent Original Condition = $3500-5500