Monday, February 20, 2017

Vespa Day

I have had a long standing love affair with scooters built in Italy and known to the world as Vespas. I got my first 50cc in 1970 when I was twelve, two years too young to ride it legally on Italian roads, a rule my mother was happy to encourage me to flout and so it was I learned to travel by Vespa on my school vacations. The picture below shows me at age 23 in Mexico in the summer of 1981 half way from New York where I bought the Vespa 200 and San Francisco where my six month trip would end. I kept the Vespa with a friend and rode it for another ten years until I foolishly sold it. 
I tried unsuccessfully to recreate that long lived relationship with the Indian built Stella when they came on the market around 2004 but that machine was horribly built and utterly unreliable:
I then went back to proper Vespas and bought an extraordinarily comfortable and powerful Vespa 250. Unknown to me 2007 was a terrible year for Vespa 250 models plagued with fueling problems.
 After ten months I had to give up the Vespa 250 and in despair I bought my Triumph Bonneville and motorcycled on in perfect reliability.
The Triumph still runs perfectly ten years and a hundred thousand miles later...
My wife meanwhile found a Vespa 150 very lightly used by a nervous newcomer to riding who decided to sell it after 250 miles. We went round to Cudjoe Key and I rode it home. We still have this machine with 30,000 miles on it and recently refurbished it looks set to go for another ten years and 30,000 miles. The most successful Vespa of all, 150cc four stroke automatic, Vespa's first automatic Vespa and now a classic, the ET4:
I wanted none of that automatic nonsense, I wanted a simple two stroke Vespa with gears and I found this in Iowa, a 1979 P200, classic of all the classics, not as pretty as some but more modern and solid:
Four years later I have given up. The P200 has never run right and the shop that refurbished my wife's scooter made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Today I say goodbye to nostalgia and drop off the white Vespa when we pick up my wife's scooter in the trailer. Thanks to Darren of Vespa Servicing in Bradenton for all his hard work: 
The trailer only has room for one scooter so in a couple of weeks I will come back to Bradenton (seven hours by car from Key West) to load up this modern orange Vespa 150:
I figure it is the same simple scooter my wife cleverly bought for herself so it should run as well, give me 60+ miles an hour like hers which makes it good to run on the Overseas Highway for my commute. 
 And like hers which was ultra low mileage in 2005, this one is almost brand new even though the S150 is  a model that was sold about seven years ago.
New old stock indeed.
With a sigh and no regrets I enter the modern age at last. And even though it is an automatic it is still a Vespa, and like my first scooter this one too is a flaming unabashed orange. I have gone full circle.