We were young and wild and needed the ride and the money!
I remember when we were 16. We lived in the suburbs of a small town. Buses were rare and if you wanted a girlfriend you needed a moped or a scooter. Enduros were for farm boys! So only Vespa or Lambretta remained ! That is why Vespa Scooters were so popular!
Vespa Shops or how to find parts in 1992?
There was no internet and today’s market leaders for parts were still sitting in mom’s garage. You had to drive there for hours with a buddy in the car and catalogs were available on copy paper.
For chrome side covers, you had to spend days stripping paint by hand. Then you polished for another few days before maybe someone wanted to take 300 marks from your pocket money for reluctantly chrome plating it for you.
A bench with Union Jack or Canabis leaf ? For that you had to buy a musty flag in a junk store from African immigrants. Then you had to find an apprentice to the interior decorator, who wanted to cover it with a tarpaulin as a journeyman’s piece. One built a Garelli fender, because it was lighter and looked cool.
Vespa Tuning ?
First we just unscrewed EVERY unnecessary acessoire, because we believed every gram counts to get 3.5 km/h more out compared to the neighbor boy. And to achieve that we lay like Superman on the scooter. From a friend of a friend 100km away one bought a 207 or 135 cc cylinder which had already soft seized once. Another one put the cylinder head flat on sandpaper and turned it for hours by hand until he had taken off few mm to alter compression. This of course totally messed up the compression. This resulted surprisingly in a full fully seized piston – at night in the rain at full throttle on the highway. We were on the way home from to a rally / mud meeting in a gravel pit. Then we cut a hole in the fence of the highway and hid the scooter in a bush. We spread out on the remaining scooters to pick it up hours later in an old VW bus with 50 hp. In the process, fuel ran into the seat and it welled up.
We also fell flat on our faces practicing wheelies or Vespa cross in swimming trunks and flipflops! In the process we destroyed the chrome side panels and bend the mudgard. We built switches on the glove compartment, which only darkened the tail light and license plate, to run away from the police over the dirt road – because of the illegal tuning or the 2 grams of grass, which certainly one of us always had with him.
Did people like Scooterists?
We had to meet under highway bridges, because at some point no one wanted the group of chaotic people in front of the house. They wrenched while they ordered pizza and music from the car radio in the glove compartment drone until the battery was empty. The street in front of the house was a racetrack where they daily got on the nerves of the neighbors with the speeding and the noise.
I summarize – we had no idea what we were doing, but we really had loads of fun!
Were we fast? We only felt fast!
I admit we were silly bullies and we had no respect for anything or anyone – not even for the weather or the police.
We just wanted to drive, every day, no matter what the weather, with the few bucks we earned by washing our cars, delivering newspapers and mowing the lawn. We wanted to practice cornering in the traffic circle until the gearbox sprayed sparks into the night. Mixture came either from the special gas pump or measured by the eye.
Were there parts? Hardly! And too expensive for teenagers!
Meeting with a trailer and in a hotel? Impossible. Never ! Supermarket tent, canned beer and salt sticks by campfire. Sometimes slept in the entance of a bank like homeless.
Mods or Scooterboys ?
Polo shirts or Bomber Jackets ?
No! Just hoodies and baggy pants while listening to Run DMC and Beastie Boys!
Were our conversions dangerous? Sure – there were always a few screws left over. Occasionally someone lost a wheel at full speed, because the scooter was assembled late on Sunday night to get to school on Monday.
Were we cool ? More like crazy!
But that was better than the guys who nowadays build 30hp Faro Basso Racing projects and drive with the trailer to the event! They sip prosecco with their retro outfits ordered from Amazon and celebrate that they have money. In the evening, they sleep in a fancy hotel and give each other fancy awards and prizes for being there and maybe driving through the rain for a few hours or giving a mechanic a lot of money to rebuild their overpriced collectible.
Why Vespa Scooters ?
I wish for more of those days again, when some tools, passion, an idea and a spray can plus some stickers were enough to build a “custom scooter”!
When a shitty scooter was enough to do unbelievable crazy things with it and make memories for life!