Thursday, May 1, 2008


There are scooters all over the city, a favorite mode of transportation among restaurant delivery persons who favor the cheap Yamaha and Honda varieties. Italian scooters, however, are considered chic among the 20- and 30-something crowd. And since Piaggio reintroduced Vespas to the U.S. market several years ago, there seems to have been an explosion of these sharp little machines throughout Manhattan.

Who can blame their owners? They're fairly inexpensive (around $3,000 new), don't burn a lot of gas, and are easy to park. My favorites are the vintage scooters - those models marketed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. There are plenty of old Vespas in the city and even Matthew Broderick tools around on a white antique model in our neighborhood during the summer. I like the Vespas, but for sheer style points I prefer the Lambrettas. Like the ubiquitous Vespa, they stood as an iconic symbol of the 50s and 60s and were the scooter of choice for many of England's "mod" crowd during that period. Just watch the movie Quadraphenia to get a sense of how important the scooter was to that movement! Only made by Italy's Innocenti corporation from 1946 until 1972, the Lambrettas are much more rare. And for my money, they were sleeker and more elegantly designed than the Vespas. (Although the Lambretta name is used on scooters and other vehicles in India and Asia today, it's not the same company.)

Posted by Picasa


One Wink at a Time said...


Kitty said...

I love these things but I don't think I'd be brave enough to have a go. I'd be worried about slamming into a car door.
The Vespa showroom between Soho and Chinatown is a fun place to go. It's a surprising venue in the midst of the city.

BooCat said...

If gas gets any higher this LOL (that's little-old-lady, but laughing out loud would probably also be appropriate) might give one of those things a try, at least for in-town getting about.
A little part of me always remembers that my father, a physician, would never let my brother have a scooter or motorcycle. He said they were just "Red-blankets waiting to happen."

Isabel said...

Hey, I remember getting rides on one of these (a pale blue one) from a friend in high school. He used to drop me off a block before my house so that my mom didn't find out. We called these VESPAS (wasps, and my mom thought them to be too fast for "young ladies". Go figure!