All scooters are cool. But face it, if we could afford one everyone has a soft spot for the original hands down classic of all time.. The Vespa. I wanted one. I found one. It took me 12 months of stopping in and visiting the owner before he finally agreed to sell. I got it for a good price, but it was far from a runner. It had been restored once in it’s life already. It was structurally fairly sound, no rust holes, solid frame, and most of the parts. The fly wheel was off the motor, the points and condenser were missing. The shifter was froze in the handlebars, the carb was gunked, the fuel tank had some rust in it, tires were shot, rims were rusty…you get the idea. Here she was the day I brought it home.
She was a classic 1964 Vespa VNB 125 cc. 8″ wheels with solo saddle and pillion seat.
I was very happy and excited to get it home but had no clue where to go from here. I am reasonably mechanically inclined but I had never owned a classic Vespa and parts were missing and/or not installed on the bike.
First order of business.. research. I bought a Hayne’s Service Manual. I browsed the scooter forums and found some guys in ME that knew Vespa’s. Networking is your best bet when taking on a project like this. From them I got advice, parts suppliers, and even on occasion actual physical assistance with tricky bits.
Next step was inventory what was good, what was bad, what was missing, and order what I needed. Then the basics, clean the fuel tank and carb.,
Then the electrical and ignition. It was rough to say the least.
With the help of the Hayne’s Manual I got it back together, timed, points, gapped, and making spark. So the fuel system was good, I had spark, next I did the brakes, new tires, and all new rims as they were very rusty inside and cheap.
It took me 45 days to make it into a runner working on it here and there evenings. But man the first time it ran for me I was stoked. Don’t mind the fat guy. Did I mention classic Vespa’s are pretty small in size?
Later I took it to the Owls Head Transportation Museums annual bike show. You have to admit she cleaned up pretty decent.
She even found a couple friends.
Sadly that was about the end of the Vespa and I. I had big plans but that was the winter of $4.50 fuel oil and I was not doing well financially. I had to sell her to fill the tank and pay a couple other bills.
She was never “reliable”. Completely my fault but I sheared two flywheel keys because I did not properly torque the flywheel nut. The coils needed to be replaced as they were in rough shape so she would occasionally lose spark. But I wish I could have kept her. I will someday have another. Fear not. She found a good home.