Sunday, December 28, 2008

the vespa scooter

visited the national museum on christmas day as admission charges to all the exhibition areas were waived. did not have the leisure of visiting all the exhibition halls because i had to go for a christmas day lunch, one that i have not missed for a decade, at least. so, i settled for the canyon where they had on display 'weapons of mass desire'. one of the exhibits was this vespa scooter.

the vespa scooter is an italian post-war invention. it was a machine meant for all people, men and women. it was built on a spar-frame with a handlebar gear change, and the engine mounted directly on to the rear wheel. the front protection "shield" kept the rider dry and clean in comparison to the open front end on motorcycles. the pass-through leg area design was geared towards all user groups, including women, as wearing dresses or skirts made riding a motorcycle a challenge.

what i remember most about the vespa scooter is not the time i used to ride one but more the time when there was this gang of riders whom were referred to as the 'green hornets'. they all rode souped up vespas that were painted green. these modified scooters were capable to hitting a top speed of 128 km (80mph). they not only made changes to the engine, but they also trimmed the 'shield' to reduce the drag.

they would race among themselves or with other scooter gangs. sometimes the scooters would race with the motor bikes. in the 60s and 70s, a popular racing venue was the changi coast road.


peter said...

Yg Lambretta and vespa same right? The Italians licnesed to the Indians and the one you see in india today called the Baja or Bajai is Vespa.

yg said...

lambretta and vespa were both italian made scooters but by different companies. piaggio produced the vespa and innocenti, the lambretta. there was a slight difference in design and shape. however, in s'pore, the vespa was more popular than the lambretta.

unk Dicko said...

I started on the Lambretta in mid 60's.It had s lighter body and slimmer profile compared to the Vespa. By the late 80's,I had switched over to a Vespa which gave less problem than the Lambretta's engine. And i am still zipping around in my latest Vespa..feeling like a rich man.
A full tank can last me more than 10-12 days of riding.
Cost of petrol? $ 6-7 only!
At height of oil price increases last year, every 2-3 days i put in $80 in my car!!!

yg said...

dick, i have never ridden a lambretta but i did ride a vespa scooter for a while. yes, riding a motor-bike, you did ot have to worry about petrol prices very much.