Once the epitome of ‘50s Roman jazz-age cool, the Vespa experienced something of a fall from grace between the 1970s-1990s. No longer considered hip, most were reduced to the scrap heap or left long forgotten in storage bins or family garages.
Why Vietnam ?
During the 1960s, Vietnam was the biggest export market for Piaggio (Vespa) and Innocenti (Lambretta). To an old statistic, fifty nine thousands scooters had been exported to Vietnam by Piaggio Corp, Italy. It included all model from Lambrettas, VBBs, VBCs, VLBs, GS, ACMA, 50cc, 125cc, 150cc, 175cc, 200c,…. Vietnam have never produced these bikes and will never.
Fast forward to the present day and the humble little scooter is undergoing a global revival. In Vietnam where the Vespa never truly died off, because people couldn’t afford to replace them, retro scooters from the 50’s-70’s are more popular than ever.
Vietnam’s streets are jam-packed full of your run of the mill models, the Honda’s Dylan, @, SH, Suzuki’s Hayate and Yamaha’s Nouvo that all clamor for attention in some of the world’s most bizarre urban waves of traffic. But it is the chic old models that have been custom painted and fitted that are turning heads in HCM City.
However, it’s not all easy trails with the old Italians and French, they are up to 50 years old and require some pampering from time to time. They are generally less convenient than the newer models and are prone to problems such as difficult start-ups, frequent breakdowns and stalled engines. Enthusiasts say its all part of the charm and the little acts of maintenance love they dote upon them make the relationship that much more special.
With decades of restoration work under their belts, Vietnam’s scooter restorers have gained a reputation as some of the best in the business. The interest has sparked a new cottage industry in the country as buyers, dealers and collectors from abroad flock to the country’s shores in search of a good deal and a rare find.