BY MINH HUY
Usually the older a vehicle gets the less
desirable it becomes. That trend holds no weight when it
comes to classic Italian Piaggio scooters like the Vespa.
With over fifteen million scooters sold and groups of enthusiasts
popping up all over the world, the classic model Piaggio’s
aren’t going anywhere.
What seems to be behind the increased popularity of these
old scooters? The only plausible answer appears to be their
aesthetic qualities. Piaggio scooters appeal to the younger
generations because of their stylish appearance. For Piaggio
drivers it isn’t about transportation. It’s about making
a fashion statement.
A local enthusiast, a journalist named Ngan, comments “It
gives the rider a feeling of pride. It makes a difference
in the eyes of others. It’s impressive, generally”.
Another local enthusiast named Thang started a forum for
Vespa lovers on the web at www.ttvnol.com. He said “If one
owns this kind of vehicle, he or she should be proud and
remember that they have possession of a piece of the past…
something that many other people dream of”.
A decade ago these classic scooters were not in vogue and
were much harder to locate. In fact, if a northern person
was interested in owing a Piaggio scooter they had to travel
to purchase one or to find spare parts. Today that situation
is quite different. Scooter lovers in Hanoi can choose from
many businesses that have classic Piaggio scooters for sale.
The industry surrounding classic scooters has burgeoned
along with their appeal. On streets such as Lang, Thai Phien,
Phu Doan, Han Thuyen or Cat Linh in Ha Noi, there are scooter-service
shops. In HCMC, scooter repair shops can be found in many
districts. One of the most reliable repair shops in HCMC
is Saigon Scooter Center (SSC) on Cuu Long Street in Tan
Binh District. SSC is run by Englishman Patrick Joynt. They
buy old scooters and fix them up with high-quality spare
parts to sell, as well as to handle repairs.
While Piaggio scooters are fashionable, there are drawbacks.
They are temperamental, requiring extra maintenance and
can break down frequently. If the scooter does break down
the owner has to search for a mechanic that knows how to
work on it. The classic scooters are more difficult to handle
than lighter weight motorbikes. With no electric-starter
they have to be kick-started. There are no automatic transmissions
so drivers mush switch gears manually. And, as university
student Thanh Hang mentions of her scooter “It consumes
a lot of fuel”.
Still, problematic as the old classic scooters may be, their
owners tend to beam with pride when they are asked about
them. After all, scooter enthusiasts will remind people
that ownership should be viewed as a hobby, and any hobby
takes time and energy.