Friday, November 11, 2011

Vespa Super

General information

The Vespa Super was successor to the venerable Vespa 125 and 150 VNA/VBB. It had a similar layout, but had updated styling that matched the other contemporaneous largeframe Vespas. While the largeframe Vespas with 10" wheels had evolved over time in their styling and design, the 8" wheeled models had soldiered on through to the mid-60's with only very minor changes from the 50's. Their gentle curves began to seem out of step with the times, and the rest of the Vespa lineup, which had by then sported a more angular look. Piaggio totally redesigned the look of the most basic of the largframes with the introduction of the Super.

Style

The body on the Super was basically a shrunken version of that found on the Sprint. All parts of the body became more angular, and sharp edges on the Super replaced the gentle curves of the VBB. As on the previous models, the right side cowl covered the motor, while the left side contained a glovebox and housed the battery if one was equipped. The cowls had more of a sharp styling line around the top outside edge. In addition, a raised "swoosh" featured prominently on each cowl and the front mudguard. In the motor side, there were air vents cut in the cowl, and there raised lines which accentuated the louvers extending past them. On the glovebox side, there were three raised lines in the cowl that provided a counterpoint to the engine side louvers. The glovebox lock was integrated with the latch as on the Sprint. The Super had flat aluminum strips on the cowls but not on the front mudguard.



On the European models, the taillight was the same one used on the G.L. and Super Sport. However, in the U.S. regulatory changes caused not only the substitution of a different headset, but a different taillight as well. It is the same "tractor" style taillight that was used on the very last Super Sports sold in the U.S., and was put on all U.S. market Vespas at this time. This taillight was not flush mounted to the body, as the earlier taillights were, but was attached to the body by a metal stalk, which also served as a license plate holder. The stalk, and the round metal taillight housing were painted the same color as the body. A small rectangular reflector was added to each side of the housing in accordance with Federal regulations at the time. The later 1970's Super had a similar version of this taillight. The stalk unit with integrated license plate holder was the same, but the actual light unit was altered. This later version of the taillight had a small chrome backing plate, with a more square red plastic lens. The lens had large integrated reflectors on both sides, and was a standard unit that was used on all models of American market Vespas in the 1970's, as well as many motorcycles. Later, 1970's European Supers received an updated taillight unit. This light was a large plastic unit that was flush mounted to the rear frame. I had a large red plastic lens with a solid plastic top cover, which was painted the same color as the scooter.


The early Super had thick aluminum badges on both the front and the back of the scooter that were painted black. On the right side of the legshield, there were two that said "Vespa" and "Super" in cursive script. On the back, there was one badge located on the frame below the rear package tray that said "150 Super." In the center of the legshield there was a "Piaggio" shield badge. On the later Supers, the badges were changed. The front legshield badge simply said "Vespa" in a block font. The rear aluminum badge was square shaped, and said "150 Super," with a black background. The "Piaggio" badge was also changed to an octagonal shape.
The Super came standard with a single saddle seat and a package tray, as had all of the non-performance Vespas. However, with the new body design, came a new seat design. The saddle had a slightly different shape, and included more padding. The rear package tray was made to look more solid and flat, and included simpler mounting points for a buddy seat. This seat and package tray unit was also used on the Sprint models.

The very early Supers both in the U.S. and Europe used the same headset as the 125 Smallframe with an inset headlight (non-sealed beam) that fit in the headset with two tabs at the top of the headlight unit and an adjuster at the bottom. This headset sported a new smaller speedometer that was also used on the Vespa 125 Smallframe, and became the standard Vespa speedometer on all models until the introduction of the P-series. Soon after the introduction of the Super, American laws required that all motorcycles have a sealed beam headlight, and Piaggio opted to fit a single headset design on all of their scooters to accommodate the new regulations. This headset was similar to that which was already being used on the Super, but it was modified to take the new light unit. The later headset had a round, sealed beam headlight made by Siem, and sported a thick chrome ring. It was attached by three small set screws inside the headset itself, while the chrome ring attached with small screws which screwed into the set screws. It was a somewhat complicated design, but it did get the job done. U.S. model Supers from the 74 model year on had an ignition switch at the top of the headset which used a blank key. Early Supers had gray handgrips, while later models had black handgrips. The hand levers were also altered throughout the run to make the tips less sharp and pointed.

Motor

The motor was based upon the 150cc and 125cc two port powerplant on the VBB/VNA. There were virtually no changes with the exception of the addition of a different style of H.T. coil for the ignition. Though both a 125cc and a 150cc version were made, it appears as if the 125 Super was only imported in very small numbers to the U.S., and probably only for one year when they were first introduced.

 
 The major change with the Super was in the wheels and brakes. The old four-lug wheels and small drums were gone. The new wheels were of a similar split rim design as the 10" wheeled Vespas, but just smaller. The brake drums were enlarged, and the shoes were also increased in size. The wheel rims attached to the drums via four bolts, as opposed to the five stud design on the 10" wheeled models. The central wheel nuts on both the front and the back wheels had a plastic domed cover over them. These often are lost, and are not being reproduced. On the front fork, the separate dampener and spring design was retained from the VBB/VBA.

 All Vespa Supers imported to the U.S. after 1973 had turn signals fitted as standard equipment in order to satisfy American regulations. The turn signal system on the Super was the same as that on all other U.S. market Vespas from 1974 until the introduction of the P-series to the U.S. in 1978. The system consisted of four separate plastic lenses attached to aluminum stalks protruding from the headset and both rear cowls. The wiring in for the rear signals was integrated into the cowls, and contact was made via a pin on the motor-side cowl, which rubbed against a metal plate on the frame. This was done so the cowl could be removed without having to unhook wiring. There was a chrome turn signal switch that was attached to the left side of the handlebars. The system worked poorly, when it worked. The six volt power system was not up to the task of powering the signals, and they were so dim that one could hardly see them during the day. The aluminum stalks and plastic signals were flimsy, and since they stuck out from the frame, they were prone to catching on things and breaking. Finally, the design of the system looked clearly like an afterthought, and really disrupted the smooth lines of the scooter. Today, most of these 70's era Vespas that had signals fitted when new, have since had them removed. Thirty years on, it is actually quite rare to find the entire system intact on one of these scooters, let alone fully functional.

Bottom Line

The Super a competent scooter, though it is hard to get excited about one. They were the bottom of the line largeframe when they were sold, and thus do not attract a lot of interest with collectors. The combination of the two port motor with 8" wheels does not lend them well to performance modifications. And finally, the styling, while fine, in my mind is not nearly as pretty as the curvaceous VBB/VBA models. The Supers are not particularly fast, but they are fine for cruising around. Basically, they are competent all-around, and certainly consider one if if you find one in excellent condition. However other Vespa models did just about everything better.


Number Produced:

553,807

Years Produced:

1965-76

Power Output:

5.7 HP
  • Rough but restorable = $600-1200
  • Drivable, but not show = $1500-2500
  • Restored or Excellent Original Conition = $2500-3500
Source: http://scooterlounge.com/vespa/buyers-guide/vespa-super.shtml

2 comments:

  1. You should at least give credit for the fact that you lifted all the text on this page from: http://scooterlounge.com/vespa/buyers-guide/vespa-super.shtml

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