Forever Vintage: A History of Three Italian Scooters
I have been a Vespa enthusiast since purchasing my first scooter in 2002. If you’re unfamiliar with these amazing 2-stroke motor scooters, Piaggio & Co. S.p.A. of Pontedera, Italy introduced its classic single model in 1946.
Today, Vespa is one of seven companies owned by Piaggio. Though the modern scooters have wonderful features like disc brakes and security locks, I’m forever a vintage Vespa rider, now on my third classic bike.
I bought my first Vespa, a blue 1964 VNB, and named him Ducky for his small size and humorous quacky horn. Ducky was purchased in Pennsylvania but it wasn’t until I brought him to California in 2003 that I fell in love with vintage Vespas.
In 2004, I became a founding member of the San Francisco Scooter Girls, an all-female club with a focus on empowering women riders and building a safe, friendly riding community.
I learned to handle my classic Vespa by traversing the city hills, with one of my most memorable moments being a slow ride down infamous, twisty Lombard Street during a scooter rally in 2005.
A few years later, in my quest for more power, Ducky was replaced by Dynomite, a battleship grey 1978 P200 whose creative “modifications” included a kill switch resembling a vacuum cleaner on/off control just below the seat.
Mimicking J.J. from the television show Good Times, I would shout “Dyn-O-mite!” as I run-started the bike when the engine refused to kick over. Good times, indeed.
I sold Dynomite just before I left Sacramento to live in Mexico in 2012. Scooters tend to run in small circles and in 2019 I learned Dynomite was acquired by a friend who enjoys riding him today, kill switch and all.
In 2018, I returned to Sacramento after living abroad and was contacted by a friend about a yellow 1981 Vespa P200E. Recalling the fun of past rallies, I quickly agreed to the idea of owning another vintage Italian motor scooter.
My friend delivered the bike to me from San Francisco and I reveled in its brilliant paint job and the sweet aroma of its 2-stroke smoke. I took the bike out for a test run and quickly remembered why I love vintage Vespas.
Although it took a few weeks to name, this Vespa is now referred to as El Banano (the Banana). He loves Sunday rides to the Farmer’s Market and cruising the wide streets of William Land Park.
Watch my video: El Banano in Land Park, Sacramento
In addition to being a great scooter for riding around Sacramento, El Banano is a good commuter, and performs well, even in the pouring rain with me wearing – what else – a bright yellow rain suit.