Vespa On A Vindaloo (And A Few Beers, Too)!
Classic Scooterist|December 2019 - January 2020
Over time my sanity has been tested by Vespas, including the PX125,PX150, LML150, a T5, a T5 Classic and PX200.

All had personalities, grin factors and fun; some brought despair, head-in hand moments and many spanner-throwing tantrums! As a rule of thumb I’ve targeted new or low mileage scooters which have been reliable, economical and have basically done what they were asked of (usually)!

For those who’ve read my previous Classic Scooterist articles (Issue 72: LML Star – an enthusiasts view; Issue 89: Vespa PX – return of the Django; and Issue 101: Journeys End – to find the real Bobby Dazzler), it was only a matter of time before I was going to toss out the whole ‘Oh… and another thing!’ moment. So yes, I’ve scribbled about this and rambled on about that, but it’s what I’ve witnessed that still amazes me – everything from beautiful nut and bolt restorations to the mere humble chap riding his battered ‘ole faithful’ with gaffer taped side panels. With that said, I’ve also witnessed the odd ‘game show-sized spend’ on a mid-life crisis scooter – but hey, it’s the scooter scene, so who are we to judge?

I'M OFF SHOPPING

Moving on, this project is what I’d best describe as being totally outside my comfort zone. No new toy or low mileage thing here, more of a ‘pocket money’ restoration on a somewhat loose budget! This idea was always going to be a bit ‘daring and scaring’, but hopefully it will show just what can be done by utilising the skills of a good friend, some hard work, late night research and, of course, the challenge of a slim wallet.

After a tip-off, I found myself in a local scooter shop looking at a black 2002 Vespa PX200 with around 34,000 miles on the clock (2,060 miles per year to roughly humanise it). However, there’s still plenty to consider here. Irrespective of the PX200 (and PX125) now becoming rare as hen’s teeth, we still have to weigh up the initial outlay and factor as to how far we intend to go with this project as a whole, etc, etc, blah, blah!

Now, this particular PX has already had a partial rebuild, new cruciform, clutch plates, mudguard, centre stand, re-painted sidepanels, brake overhaul, plus the MOT all on a sesame seed bun for £1900. Sounds good? Let’s take a look.

On examination it doesn't take me long to diagnose that there’s still plenty of work to be done. It has rust blisters and corrosion in the usual areas. It’s also been dressed up with EFL parts like a Mk1 seat, amber indicators, early badging and an LML fork link cover, along with dreadful, ill-fitting aftermarket grips. Strangely, no spare wheel though. Gut instinct tells me this scooter is a bit of a ‘donor bike’, but to be frank, I found it to be fairly honest. After all, it’s had one owner with good service history and the condition was in accordance of the years/mileage. Time to retreat for a coffee and do some figure work.

ROUND 2

Here we go, it’s time for another look, but this time I go armed with my school buddy and long-term friend, Jason.

To get some sort of unbiased opinion, I didn't tell him anything about my initial findings, but let me tell you this, absolutely nothing gets past him! He's one of those people who has that ‘vehicle sixth sense’ and a real knack of seeing true potential. He’s also going to be the muscle and backbone of the restoration work whilst I get busy sourcing the parts – now that's what I call teamwork! (Jason thinks it’s more like Del-Boy saying to Rodney: “Right Rodders, I’ll go down and open up the van door while you carry this lot down!”)

After another look over the scooter, we compare notes and concur – the price needs to come down to get this project over the finish line. After a brief chat with the seller we deal on a fair price and he kindly throws in a spare wheel.

On the ride home I was surprised how well the Vespa pulled. Ok, it felt a bit strange and had some interesting characteristics, but once we got it back to Jason's garage it was straight on to the surgeon’s table. Immediately I'm at the engine. Cable and wiring loom sleeves are tatty, the flywheel cover, gear selector box cover and carburettor lid are all scabby, and the fuel tank and upper chassis have ongoing paint damage. Then it’s just a case of an essential engine running check, a good degrease and general clean up (for now).

THE BODYWORK

It was surprisingly ok for its age, but Jason (being Jason) was already plugging in the various power tools. I quickly grab my iPad and start to ‘paparazzi’ because once he's let loose, absolutely nothing is safe!

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