Vespa Rally

General Information

The Vespa Rally replaced the Super Sport as the top of the line sporting scooter from Piaggio. The Rally retained the same basic layout as the S.S., but quite a few changes were made to both the frame and motor which made it both more reliable, and in stylistic harmony with the other models in the Vespa range. There were two versions made, with the primary difference between the two being the size of the motor. The first had a 180cc motor, and the second had a 200cc motor which included electronic ignition. With the Rally, the Vespa reached probably the best balance of classic style with modern performance.

Style

The body on the Rally was set up in the same general manner as the Super Sport which preceded it. The right cowl covered the motor, while the left cowl was also removable, and covered a spare tire. The spare surrounded a battery and related electrical components. All U.S. model Rally 180 and 200 models came with a battery as standard equipment, while some European market versions did not have a battery. On the Rally, the metal spare wheel cover, which had been used on the G.S. 160 and S.S. 180, was substituted for a plastic cover.

One thing to note on the Rally, was that it was the first time that the top of the line Vespa had actually gotten smaller in its evolution. Though the styling on the Rally was very similar to the Super Sport, the cowls and mudguard on the Rally were not nearly as wide as those found on the S.S. Additionally, the aluminum strips that had adorned the cowls and mudguard on the S.S., were deleted from the Rally. The glovebox on the Rally was also slightly smaller than that of the S.S. The narrower, unadorned look of the Rally gave it a more sporting and less luxurious look.

The Rally 180 had thick brushed aluminum badges on both the front and the back of the scooter. On the right side of the legshield, there were two that said "Vespa" and "Rally" in cursive script. On the back, there was one badge located on the frame below the rear package tray that said "Vespa Rally." In the center of the legshield there was a "Piaggio" octagonal badge. On the Rally 200, the badges were changed. The front legshield badge simply said "Vespa" in a block font. The rear aluminum badge was square shaped, and said "Rally 200 ," with a black background. The "Piaggio" badge was also an octagonal shape on the 200.

Though the body on the Rally was smaller than the S.S., seat on the Rally was made larger. A dual seat was standard on the Rally, and it was so large that it stuck out slightly from the frame in the front and back. It had generous padding, and was quite comfortable. The seat came only in black and had "Piaggio" screen printed in white on the back.

On the European Rally 180 models, the taillight was the same one used on the Sprint. However, in the U.S. regulatory changes caused not only the substitution of a different headset, but a different taillight as well. It was the same "tractor" style taillight that was used on the very last Super Sports sold in the U.S., and was put on all U.S. market Vespas at this time. This taillight was not flush mounted to the body, as the earlier taillights were, but was attached to the body by a metal stalk, which also served as a license plate holder. The stalk, and the round metal taillight housing were painted the same color as the body. A small rectangular reflector was added to each side of the housing in accordance with Federal regulations at the time.

The Rally 200 had a similar version of this taillight. The stalk unit with integrated license plate holder was the same, but the actual light unit was altered. This later version of the taillight had a small chrome backing plate, with a more square red plastic lens. The lens had large integrated reflectors on both sides, and was a standard unit that was used on all models of American market Vespas in the 1970's, as well as many motorcycles. The European model Rally 200's received an updated taillight unit that was not equipped on the U.S. models. This light was a large plastic unit that was flush mounted to the rear frame. It had a large red plastic lens with a solid plastic top cover, which was black on all 200's.

By the time the Rally had reached American shores, U.S. laws required that all motorcycles have a sealed beam headlight, and Piaggio opted to fit a single headset design on all of their scooters to accommodate the new regulations. This headset was similar to that which was already being used on the Super both in Europe and the U.S., but it was modified to take the new light unit. This headset had a round, sealed beam headlight made by Siem, and sported a thick chrome ring. It was attached by three small set screws inside the headset itself, while the chrome ring attached with small screws which screwed into the set screws. It was a somewhat complicated design, but it did get the job done. This headset sported a new smaller speedometer that was also used on the Vespa 125 Smallframe, and became the standard Vespa speedometer on all models until the introduction of the P-series. The Rally 180 had a small high beam indicator at the top of the headset. This indicator was omitted after 1974 in favor of a key switch at that location. All handgrips and cowl rubbers on the Rally were black. The hand levers were also altered throughout the run to make them less narrow, and the tips less sharp.

Though the bodies of the 180 and 200cc models were essentially the same, the Rally 200 had several small changes. First, horizontal stickers were attached to the front fender and cowls. On the left cowl, the word "electronic" was spelled out in small letters. This referred to the electronic ignition fitted to the 200cc motor. Additionally, the spare wheel cover was changed from curved gray plastic, to a more angular, black plastic design. The front fender crest was also changed during the 200cc run, from a large aluminum version, to a square black aluminum one. One other change was that the Rally 200 had an ignition switch at the top of the headset with a blank key, while the Rally 180 had no switch. On the 1974 model year only, the ignition switch was located under the seat.

Motor

The motor was the star on the Rally. With the Rally 180, the top of the line Vespa finally got a rotary valve powered motor. Versions of this motor had been used on the lower sized motors of the Vespa line since 1959, and had proven themselves robust and very reliable. The rotary valve induction allowed the oil mixture to be lowered from 5% on the S.S., to 2% on the Rally a significant improvement. There were numerous internal motor changes to accommodate the new design. Additionally, the 180 had a brand new exhaust design, one that was only used on this model. All Rally 180's and Rally 200's imported to the U.S. had the auto-lube oil injector fitted as standard equipment. The oil injector was only an option on European Rally 200's and was not available on the 180 in Europe.

Another notable feature of the Vespa Rally was the larger fuel tank which was fitted. It held 2.1 gallons (8.2 liters) of fuel, including a half gallon reserve. The tank was physically larger than that fitted to the Sprint, and it stuck out a bit from the top of the frame. The larger Rally seat fit around it, but no other Vespa seats would fit on the Rally.

There were several changes to the motor with the Rally 200. The most important was the addition of electronic ignition. This was a first for a Vespa. Electronic ignition had numerous advantages over the traditional points ignition setup used on all previous Vespas. The main advantage is that the electronic system did not rely on the mechanical movement of the points opening and closing to provide the measured spark to run the motor. This meant that maintenance of the ignition system, was virtually non-existent. This greatly increased the reliability of the Rally 200. Almost all of the Rally 200's had a system that was non-adjustable and used an H.T. coil made by Femsa. This "Femsatronic" coil was mounted directly to the frame, near the back of the motor. Some very late model Rally 200's had a Ducati made system that was identical to that on the P200, with a coil that mounted to the rear of the motor itself.

The other significant change to the Rally 200 motor was, as its name implies, an increase in the side of the cylinder to 200cc. This small increase in displacement actually created a significant increase in power and torque - with the power now reaching around 10 h.p. The carburetor was increased in size to match the motor, and a Del'Lorto SI24/24 was fitted. The exhaust was also altered to suit the new motor. There were other internal changes to the motor, most significantly to the gears, clutch, and crankshaft. This motor, with minor internal changes would soldier on in the P200 and PX200 for the next 30 years. It was the pinnacle of Vespa engine development.

The wheels and brakes were changed on the Rally from those fitted on the S.S. and G.S. 160. Once again, it was step back to uniformity and the system used was the same one used on the Sprint, as well as the previous G.L. and G.S. 150 models. The larger dampener with integrated spring shock absorber on the front fork utilized by the S.S. and G.S. 160 was abandoned in favor of the separate dampener and spring arrangement used on the Sprint.

Rally 200's imported to the U.S. had turn signals fitted as standard equipment in order to satisfy American regulations. The turn signal system on the Rally 200 was the same as that on all other U.S. market Vespas from 1974 until the introduction of the P-series to the U.S. in 1978. The system consisted of four separate plastic lenses attached to aluminum stalks protruding from the headset and both rear cowls. The wiring in for the rear signals was integrated into the cowls, and contact was made via a pin, which rubbed against a metal plate on the frame. This was done so the cowls could be removed without having to unhook wiring. There was a chrome turn signal switch that was attached to the left side of the handlebars. The system worked poorly, when it worked. The six volt power system was not up to the task of powering the signals, and they were so dim that one could hardly see them during the day. The aluminum stalks and plastic signals were flimsy, and since they stuck out from the frame, they were prone to catching on things and breaking. Finally, the design of the system looked clearly like an afterthought, and really disrupted the smooth lines of the scooter. Today, most of these 70's era Vespas that had signals fitted when new, have since had them removed. Thirty years on, it is actually quite rare to find the entire system intact on one of these scooters, let alone fully functional.

Bottom Line

The Rally 180 and 200 are among the best scooters that Piaggio ever produced. Certainly, when one thinks about a drivable classic, the Rally fits the bill without equal. The body design is clean and modern looking, but it still catches the eye as a classic. The Rally is a great balance between classic lines, and more modern mechanicals. The three port rotary valve motor is a lot less finicky than the previous piston ported designs used in the G.S. and S.S. models. Additionally, since the 200cc motor shares a majority of its internal parts with the P200, which is still in production, parts availability is great. Virtually the only parts that are not available on the 200 are the crankshaft and electronic ignition stator. However, some of the body parts are hard to get. The cowls are not in production at this time, nor is the glovebox. These parts can be hard to source if they are damaged or missing.

On the road, the Rally is a joy to drive. It has a smooth and powerful motor. That, coupled with the large and comfortable seat, make this scooter that anyone would be proud to own and drive. If I only had one classic scooter, the Rally would be at the top of my list.

Number Produced:

26,494 (Rally 180), 41,274(Rally 200)

Years Produced:

1968-73 (Rally 180), 1974-79 (Rally 200)

Power Output:

8.7 HP (Rally 180), 9.8 (Rally 200)

  • Rough but restorable = $800-1500
  • Drivable, but not show = $1500-3500
  • Restored or Excellent Original Condition = $4000-6500

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