last updated 6/7/2008
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New, 10/22/2007: an update on Vietnamese restorations and some link clean-up, stuff like that.
New, 10/30/2007: WSJ article from Oct 27, 2007.
New 6/7/2008: thoughts on gas prices.
(Remember the Midas Muffler ads?)
Since I started this page years ago, classic scooters have become a whole lot more expensive. Now I say you shouldn't have to pay more than $1000 for a working scooter, nor more than $250 for a clunker. I still hear about amazing deals ("this guy had it in his garage, and he needed room, so he sold it to me for $125"), there are lucky finds. But they are rare. And anyway, luck is out of your control, but your effort isn't. Number one rule: PERSISTENCE PAYS.
If you want a restored, beautiful classic, expect to pay from $2000 to.. well… to too high! Fix it up yer damn self. It's more fun. Nudge.
Note, too, that since I started this page years ago, gasoline has become more expensive... by a HUGE amount. Part of the reason scooters took off in post-war Europe and are still so popular in Asia and other places where gas is expensive (and the weather is favorable) is because of their efficiency. Well, not only is Vespa back in business in America, but Genuine Scooters are selling classically-styled scooters as part of Scooterworks in Chicago (see below), and further I read today that Fiat is looking for an American partner to build and sell their new version of the iconic "cinquecento" (five-hundred"). What's old is new again... since oil hit $137/bbl and gas is at $4.00/gal and shows no signs of slowing. It's the 70s all over again! Scoot carefully. And scoot to save money.
John Stafford at the Baltimore Bombers SC page has some good advice on buying scooters: Baltimore Bombers Home Page
The Den of the Lambretta has some good advice on buying scooters. Visit them for some tips and some 4Sale listings.
(Remember the Faberge Organics ads?)
Ask around. Most of the scooters I have purchased I have learned about by word-of-mouth. Put the word out there, by email and so forth, that you want to own your own scoot. You'll get one.
Every week around your town there's an auto deals magazine, right? I know there is, wherever you are in North America, because it is an American rule: Auto-Hunter, the Want-Advertiser, Auto Sales Weekly, you make up a name, there is one out there. And there is always a Scooters and Mopeds listing, or at least scooters to be found in the motorcycles section. Use it. (My bet is that this rule applies in other countries as well.)
One that I can recommend: If you like NSU, BMW, Heinkel, Zundapp, or other German scoots or motorcycles., you might be interested in contacting Deutches Motorrad Register, managed by W. Conway Link of 8663 Grover Place, Shreveport, LA 71115. His quarterly newsletter is interesting, fun, and useful. Classified ads offer great bikes and best of all, parts for our German two-wheelers.
The biggest favor I can do is to point you toward some good existing listings of 4sale and 2buy (rather than try to maintain yet another one!) so here are a few:
In the last couple of years, a lot of scooters
have turned up for sale on eBay and Craig's List... from Vietnam. There
are millions of Italian scoots in SE Asia, and a pretty big
business in restoration has grown up around Saigon. Some of them even
look pretty spiffy! But, my gawd, the
horror stories about these restorations! Home-made parts, kilos of
Bondo-like filler, even dangerous things (cracked welds, bad brakes,
parted cables, painted-over or hidden casting failures). WATCH OUT.
This is not to say that there are no good restorations coming out of Vietnam, but the overwhelming majority seems to be crap. (The name for them in the scootin' community is "viet-bodge.") I have heard good things about a guy named Randall at ScootRS, for instance; and on Oct 27, 2007, the Wall Street Journal profiled Saigon Scooter Centre at which British ex-pat Patrick Joynt is doing the same kind of work as ScootRS.
As I wrote above, it is in your best interest, if you are new to scootin', to find someone with experience to help you buy!
Other People's Scooters
Quotations and Poems about Scooters
Scooter and Odd Car Organizations
Help in finding scooters and parts
Casa Lambretta USA, Inc.
2403 N.E. 2nd Ave #B
Miami, FL 33137
Fax: (305) 576-2806
http://www.casalambrettausa.com/I can personally attest to the quality of their service.
Domi Racer Distributors, Inc.
Accessory Mart, Inc.
P.O. Box 30439
Cincinnati, Ohio 45230
phone: (513) 871-1678
fax: (513) 871-6684
Specialty: European and British
Boston scootist Eric P. reminded me I didn't have these guys. Silly moi, and thanks, Eric.
Clauss Studios & Manufacturing