Vespa Sprint & Sprint Veloce
The Vespa Sprint was successor to the G.L. It had a similar layout and design, but had updated styling that matched the other contemporaneous largeframe Vespas. The scooter came in two different versions. Early models, called the Vespa Sprint, were made until 1968. Later models, called the Vespa Sprint Veloce, were made beginning in 1969. Sprints were also sold by the Sears department stores for one year only in 1967. These are covered in the "Allstate" section of the Buyers' Guide.
The body on the Sprint was an evolution from that on the G.L. The frame itself is virtually identical, however the cowls and front mudguard became more angular on the Sprint. As on many previous models, the right side cowl covered the motor, while the left side contained a glovebox and housed the battery if one was equipped. The cowls had more of a sharp styling line around the top outside edge. In addition, a raised aluminum strip featured prominently on each cowl and the front mudguard. On the motor side, there were air vents cut in the cowl, and there were raised lines which accentuated the louvers extending past them. On the glovebox side, there were three raised lines in the cowl that provided a counterpoint to the engine side louvers. The glovebox lock was integrated with the latch as on the G.L. On thing to note is that the later Sprint Veloce omitted the aluminum strips on the cowls and mudguard.
The Sprint came standard with a single saddle seat and a package tray, as had all of the non-performance Vespas. However, with the new body design, came a new seat design. The saddle had a slightly different shape, and included more padding. The rear package tray was made to look more solid and flat, and included simpler mounting points for a buddy seat. This seat and package tray unit was also used on the 150 Super.
The Sprint 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 "Sprint" in cursive script. On the back, there was one badge located on the frame below the rear package tray that said "150 Sprint." In the center of the legshield there was a "Piaggio" shield badge. On the Sprint Veloce, the badges were changed. The front legshield badge simply said "Vespa" in a block font. The rear aluminum badge was square shaped, and said "150 Sprint V," with a black background. The "Piaggio" badge was also changed to an octagonal shape.
In Europe, the Sprint's headset was the same trapezoid headlight model that was used on the G.L. and Super Sport. However, in the U.S., this headset was not used. In its place, the American models got a new headset with a round headlight. American laws required a sealed beam headlight, and Piaggio opted to fit a single headset design on all of their scooters to accommodate it. This headset was similar to that which was used on the Vespa Super and Vespa 125 Smallframe in Europe. The very early Sprints used the same headset as the 125 Smallframe with an inset headlight (non-sealed beam) that fit in the headset with two tabs at the top of the headlight unit and an adjuster at the bottom. The later headset had a round, sealed beam, headlight was 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 the new smaller speedometer that was also used on the Vespa Super and Vespa 125 Smallframe in Europe. Sprints had gray handgrips, while Sprint Veloce models had black handgrips.
On the European models, the taillight was the same one used on the G.L. and Super Sport. However, in the U.S. regulatory changes caused not only the substitution of a different headset, but a different taillight as well. It is 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 later Sprint Veloce 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 which omitted the metal housing. 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. European Sprint Veloces received an updated taillight unit. This light was a large plastic unit that was flush mounted to the rear frame. I had a large red plastic lens with a solid plastic top cover, which was painted the same color as the scooter.
The motor was based upon the 150cc two port powerplant on the G.L. However some internal modifications were made to increase the performance on the Sprint. The compression was increased slightly, and a new better flowing exhaust pipe was fitted. The gearing was changed to accommodate the slightly increased power, as were the flywheel and clutch.
The big update with the Sprint Veloce was in the motor. The design was altered from the venerable two port design with the addition of a third transfer port on the top end. The compression ratio was again increased the Sprint's 7.5:1to 7.7:1. The carburetor used on this new motor was an SI20/20 and it had a larger air filter than the previous Sprint. The exhaust was also altered slightly to accommodate the motor changes.
All Sprint Veloces imported to the U.S. after 1973 had turn signals fitted as standard equipment in order to satisfy American regulations. The turn signal system on the Sprint Veloce 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 on the motor-side cowl, which rubbed against a metal plate on the frame. This was done so the cowl 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.
The Sprint series is a fine scooter. With prices on the Rally models starting to creep up, and the relatively large amount of Sprints made, they make a good daily rider. The two port Sprints are not particularly fast, but they are fine for cruising. The Sprint Veloce is a better choice because the motor is significantly faster, and can easily be modified with the addition of an aftermarket performance top end. Parts availability for these scooters is excellent, and virtually everything can be purchased new. The Bajaj Cheetak, manufactured in India, was a clone of the Vespa Sprint. Because of that lucky fact, virtually every body part can be bought new in the aftermarket even today, and helps make the Sprint an excellent choice for a practical, drivable classic scooter.
203923 (Sprint), 144168 (Sprint Veloce)
1965-74 (Sprint), 1969-79 (Sprint Veloce)
5.9 (Sprint), ? (Sprint Velcoce)
- Rough but restorable = $600-1200
- Drivable, but not show = $1500-3000
- Restored or Excellent Original Condition = $3000-5500