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Kickin’ it old-skool

January 18, 2008

Yeah, I’ll bet you were wondering when I’d get around to using that as a headline! 😀

Vespa SS

Vespa SS

Anyway, the other day an e-mail from Fuzz showed up, addressed to me and Doc. Fuzz had found a 1965 SS180 for sale on Craigslist, and wanted our thoughts.

Here’s the ad. I’m slightly familiar with it, having seen it at rallies in Portland and Seattle, though in the latter case, not recently. The bike certainly has a colorful history, having served as an African missionary’s daily ride before returning to Portland and passing through a succession of owners.

On the plus side, this is a bike that has been well-maintained and more importantly, well-ridden. The seller freely admits the paint is faded and it’s got a few owies, but everything is there. With collector vehicles, original beats restored (which usually ends up being over-restored) every time. While it presently has a performance pipe, he will include the original pipe, along with other bits and pieces, and most importantly, documentation. The price is reasonable.

The downside: notice how many times the seller mentions things that are no longer available, like an original pipe, cowls and so on. Being 43 years old, it’s gonna have quirks. An experienced old-skool Vespa owner will know what to whack or jiggle if something isn’t working, but Fuzz is relatively new to the scooter thing, his fleet consisting of ET4s in various colors.

I told Fuzz SS180s are rare, and that the possibility of having something made of pure unobtanium break or be damaged would seriously diminish any fun I might have using it in the way it was intended. Ask any owner of an original, genuine Shelby Cobra how that feels. This particular bike, while an excellent example of a highly desirable model, is probably a better bike for a serious collector.

At the same time the SS180 notice was on Craigslist, there was also a posting for a Vespa P200E. I suggested Fuzz consider this one instead. Not only was it being offered for $500 less than the SS180, it meets all the criteria for a collector vehicle. The bike is all there, it has the manuals and the other bits that come with a new bike, and the deal includes stock parts that were replaced. The Sito exhaust and Bitubo suspension are common upgrades, and in the latter case, not particularly cheap, so it’s nice that they come with the bike.

Better still is the fact that it’s a P200. Every single part is still available new (even the frame), so it’s no biggie if it falls over or something breaks. It has electronic ignition (that’s the ‘E’) and oil injection, just like my PX. No mixing!

As you can see from the pics, the bike looks new (the color scheme is not original, but so what?), and I would be very surprised if the seller can’t provide receipts for all work done as part of the “complete mechanical and cosmetic restoration.”

The P200 is considered by many old-skool Vespa aficionados to be the best scooter the company ever made—it’s reliable, it’s easy to maintain and most importantly, it’s fast, good for 60 mph out of the box when new.

This fellow’s looking to pass it on to a “new enthusiast owner.” A P200E like this one would be the best way (aside from a new PX or a Stella) to dip one’s toe into the pool of old-skool Vespa ownership. It would be an excellent daily rider. Fuzz, I said, if I were you, I’d go for the P200. If I had the money. *SIGH!*. Favicon

One Comment
  1. January 22, 2008 6:47 pm

    It is hard for me to shake that wanton feeling for the old skool nostalgia… but with all the Westender banter today about ongoing maintenance nightmares with the infamous ‘blanken_stella’, I think Tacoma Bob hit it on the head when he said “I can PROBABLY fix all of that myself (and probably will) but what a pain….I just want it to work…..” That’s my sentiments exactly. Good advice to consider the P200E instead – but the PX is probably the best of both possible worlds (old skool charm with modern dependability)…

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