We’ve said it before: the greenest car you can buy is a car that’s already been built. “But,” I hear you asking, “what’s even ‘greener’ than that?” Try this: a fully re-used and re-cycled, 90 mpg, California-legal “restomod” 1966 Vespa 150 Super.
The ’66 shown here was restored by Scooterworks USA, a Chicago-based parts company that’s been catering exclusively to the scooter community at large (and the vintage Vespa community, in particular) since 1989 … but it’s not the only such restoration. Scooterworks will be offering these restomods as finished bikes (with warranties) beginning in 2012.
Scooterworks’ CEO, Jim Kolbe, believes these Restoration scooters will give image-conscious scooter commuters a legitimate “green” option that delivers many of the benefits of a plug-in EV, but with an extra helping of classic Italian styling, too. You can check out Jim and his red Super in action, below.
We’ve covered a number of electric scooters in recent months, as more and more people come to understand the economic (Vespanomic?) benefits to choosing a scooter as alternative transportation. Even those “super-green” EVs, however, require huge resources to mine, process, manufacture, and package the li-ion batteries and rare-earth magnetic motors. The effort behind pulling those resources out of the ground eats into the potential carbon emission and fuel-savings benefits of even the most economical EVs, regardless of wheel-count.
For their part, the “Scooterworks Restoration” Vespas start with original, Italian-VIN steel frames, which are detailed and touched-up to a showroom-fresh finish. Once the frame is ready for prime-time, a brand new (50 state emissions-legal) 5-port engine and 4-speed manual transmission are installed – a combination that’s been EPA certified to exceed 90 mpg. The new 5-port is significantly more powerful than the 60’s motor, as well, giving back real two-wheeled performance without environmental compromise. New electrical wiring, a modern electronic ignition system, and new suspension components combine with modern tires and brakes to deliver the 1960s Vespa experience older riders remember, if not the smoky, unreliable experience they actually had.
The first production run of Scooterworks’ Restoration Vespas (as shown) will be ready to ship in the coming weeks with an MSRP around $4495 (depending on specific year/model), and it’s worth noting that the bikes can be custom-tailored to a customer’s specifications with different colors, seating options, and sidecars. Expect more information and a full “menu” of pricing information to be released in the days leading up to February’s 2012 Dealer Expo, as well as some real-world riding impressions as soon as I con Jim into letting me borrow his!
Full disclosure: Since May of this year, my 9-5 hours have been spent at Scooterworks USA, where I help babysit the company’s website, PR copy, and product database. Since October, I’ve also been charged with growing Scooterworks’ West Coast dealerships, so if this article leads to Scooterworks selling a bunch of restored Vespas that would be very good for me.