We are currently working on a comprehensive set of guidelines and definitions to help the experienced an inexperienced alike understand, identify and define this plague that has been inflicted on on the vintage scooter community over the past several years.  For now, let us just start by saying that all of the horror stories and warnings that you may have come across either verbally or on various internet sites and forums are true.  As with anything, there may be exceptions to the general rules that have come to shape conventional wisdom, but we have yet to come across these exceptions.  We have had the displeasure of seeing first hand several dozens of these “restorations” from multiple “shops” and importers and can say with absolute certainty that they are as bad, and in most cases far worse than the reputations that they have acquired.


Below is a good illustration of the very typical problems that are found with these “restorations”.  We wrote this up for a woman who purchase this scooter so that she could have some ammunition and proof of false advertising to use in an attempt to get her money back from the dishonest importer who sold it to her.*


So, without further ado...




The issues listed below were uncovered during a minor surface-level evaluation of the scooter.  The first list is obviously the primary concern, however the second list should not be overlooked, as it illustrates the many reasons why this scooter should not have been advertised as a "restored" or "showroom condition" vehicle.  It is our educated guess, based on what we have seen so far in this evaluation, as well as previous experience with bikes of similar origin, that further disassembly and inspection would most likely, if not definitely, reveal further similar and possibly worse issues underneath.  While we have made an attempt to remedy some of the major issues listed below (i.e. cotter pins), it is our opinion that this vehicle remains UNSAFE and UNFIT FOR ROAD USE!!!


MAJOR SAFETY AND MECHANICAL ISSUES ENCOUNTERED:



- Scooter was sold with no cotter pins on the front or back wheel.  Without these very simple and inexpensive parts, there is nothing to stop the main center wheel nuts from vibrating loose and the wheels from falling off.  This is obviously a MAJOR concern.


- The scooter's front break lever was made out of very poorly cast metal and was installed with an incorrect mounting screw.  This caused the lever to actually brake off in the new owners hand while she was loading it onto her trailer.  We have since replaced these parts.


- Major structural and aesthetic parts of the scooter's chassis/frame appear to be fabricated out of poor quality sheet metal, and welded in, producing a poor patchwork rendition of the original frame.  This is particularly concerning because a Vespa's structural strength is based on the monocoque principal of it's original stressed steel unibody construction.


- The wires feeding the external high tension ignition coil were twisted together (not crimped or soldered).  This can cause not only poor and intermittent running conditions, but also harmful and even fatal electric shock.


- A front fork from a completely different Vespa model was installed on this scooter to facilitate the conversion to the (also incorrect) 10" wheels.  This "upgrade" fork is too long for the type of chassis it has been installed in, causing the steering bearings to be dangerously loose.  This will cause unsafe handling and excessive vibration at all moderate to high speeds.


- The gear-selector box and shifting control cables were incorrectly installed, causing the scooter to randomly pop itself into gear from neutral, usually upon startup.  This also caused there to be absolutely no correlation between the gear shift indicator numbers and the gear you are actually in.  This can be very discouraging and UNSAFE, particularly for novice riders.


- Many fasteners throughout the engine and frame which require lock washers had none.  This makes them considerably susceptible to vibration and they will eventually come lose and fall off.


- One of the five studs that hold the rear wheel rim to the rear hub was completely missing and replaced with a standard nut and bolt (incidentally of the incorrect size).  This bolt was also only finger tight.


- Front break actuator arm is attached at the hub with a flimsy screw rather than a pressed in pivot.


- Fuel tank is full of rust and sediment which has also found it's way into the fuel tap, fuel line, and carburetor, requiring these items to be rebuilt or replaced for the machine to run correctly and not cause further problems.


- Air filter has a home-made screen causing incorrect air fuel mixture.  This part was also held in place with one incorrect screw and one screw was completely missing.


AESTHETIC ISSUES ENCOUNTERED:

(Further indication that this vehicle was incorrectly and fraudulently advertised as "restored")


- Nearly every hardware fastener on the entire bike is the incorrect size and type.


- Home-made/incorrect pinch bolts on all control cables.


- Incorrect wheel size, VBBs are supposed to have 8" not 10" wheels.  Because of the frame geometry of the VBB, this causes it to sit much higher than even natively 10" wheel Vespas.


- Engine swing-arm bolt is installed backwards and is held in place by a grossly incorrect nut.


- Center stand boots are on backwards causing it to be very difficult to catch the stand with your foot and park the bike.  Could also cause damage to the frame, but luckily (???) the center stand brackets and/or spring are also incorrect so this isn't currently a danger.


- Outer floor rails are missing.  Instead the bike has incorrect and poorly installed tubular steel trim.  This is a very common site on Indonesian and Vietnamese "restorations", as this trim covers up the floorboard edges which can be very difficult to perform successful bodywork on.


- Speedometer is a particularly bad reproduction of a speedometer from a completely different year and model of scooter, and in addition to looking highly out of place to the trained eye, it also doesn't fit properly into the headset.


- Poorly cast accessories scattered throughout the bike.  While the tastelessness of these items may be a matter of opinion, I must argue that since none of these things actually come at all close to resembling factory equipment or even period accessories, then I believe it stands to reason that this scooter should once again NOT be billed as "fully restored" or "showroom condition".  This logic can also be applied to the metallic two-tone paint, the black rather than gray grips and cowl trim, the glovebox installed behind the legshield (incorrect for a VBB and used to impersonate more rare models), carb box rubber used to line the gas tank, glove box doors, and tail light (no carb box rubber on the carb box itself of course), very poor quality homemade spare tire mount, etc.


  1. -Paint and even chrome plating has been applied directly over rusted parts.  Rust is seeping through the seems on the floorboards, and several other spots on the body show cracking paint and other signs of premature deterioration due to inadequate or omitted rust removal and improper prep and bodywork.




* sadly, the woman did not get her money back from the unscrupulous importer, and instead, we found out later, began trying to sell the bike to someone else, claiming that it was 100% legitimate and NOT from Vietnam and that we at Bar Italia told her so.  I can not even begin to describe how angry that made me.  This just goes to show you that some people have no problem turning right around and screwing someone else over and lying through their teeth in order to pass on their hot potato.

 

What Is A Viet-bodge?