CULTURE AND CUSTOMISATION – THE MOTOR SCOOTER STORY
Author: Barry John
This is a book packed with unique artwork and engaging photographs and celebrates motor scooter mania. In a feast of nostalgia, it takes us through the evolution of the scooter, focusing naturally on all things Lambretta and Vespa, but also covering plenty of obscure and eccentric machinery along the way. Scooter enthusiasm in all its forms receives generous attention, whether as fashion accessory for 1950s movie stars, style-conscious transport choice for the Mod generation of the 1960s, or object of worship for today’s retro-loving adherents.
Motor scooters rose from the rubble of post-war Italy and fulfilled the nation’s need for inexpensive but efficient basic transportation. But even with an economy crippled by conflict, the Italians never lost their sense of style and even the earliest scooters emphasized that,
Piaggio emerged first with its Vespa (meaning ‘wasp) and almost 80 years later remains one of the giants of the motorcycle industry. The Vespa has sold so well over the years that it provided a secure financial platform from which Piaggio were able to acquire three more of Italy’s most famous motorcycle marques – Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and Gilera. The scooter is also perfect for the transportation needs of highly populated Third World countries and Piaggio have several factories in Asia to service those regions.
The Vespa was soon followed by the Lambretta (named after a Milan suburb) and although no longer in production it is arguably more highly regarded by classic scooter aficionados. The evolution of numerous Lambretta and Vespa models over the years is illustrated and explained in this book and is accompanied by a look at the myriad accessories available for them.
And motor scooters were not just made in Italy, as this book proves by way if a survey of classic-era scooters from Britain (Triumph Tigress, BSA Sunbeam and various Villiers-powered models), from Germany (Zündapp Bella and Heinkel Tourist) and from Japan (Fuji Rabbit & Honda Juno) and elsewhere.
Motor scooters also made a unique lifestyle impact via the ‘Mod’ culture that emerged in the sixties and was indelibly entwined with music and fashion. The ‘mods’ made a unique contribution to scooter fandom that has since embraced the globe. In fact, that phase is most likely the one which has now come to appreciate scooters as classics bringing with it a resurgence of interest since the late 1970s and all that has come with that - from restoration and racing to customising and club gatherings. All is covered in the book, along with anecdotal scooter tales worldwide such as Cesare Bataglini’s round-the-world Lambretta odyssey; Mod revivalists in Tokyo; elderly scooters soldiering on in Africa; Indonesia’s Rebel Riders and their crazy Vespa-derived creations; scaling Ben Nevis on a Lambretta; and much more.
UK price: £20.00
Format: 210x210mm Hardback ● 112 pages
Illustration: over 200 illustrations, mainly colour
Go to The Motorcycle Files blog features section and read our own extensive article Classic Scooters Showcase which contains information and photographs of a dozen makes of scooter from Italy, Germany, Great Britain, the USA and Japan.