Back in the day, when bicycles outnumbered motorbikes on the roads of Pakistan, and only a handful of citizens could afford a scooter, Vespa’s two-wheelers were the ultimate status symbol.
However, since the 60s and 70s, cheap Chinese and Japanese imports have clogged up the roads and, although they have mobilised the population, they just don’t have the same charm as the Italian option.
One of the main players in the scene is Zubair Ahmad Nagra, who runs the Vespa club in the eastern city of Lahore. He still drives a Vespa that was imported by his father in 1974, reports Dunya News:
“It was the first motorised vehicle owned by my father,” said Nagra. “I’ve been fond of it ever since.”
Nagra said Vespas were the second best gift Italy gave to the world – “first being pizza” – as he recalled driving from Lahore to the Chinese border crossing at the Khunjerab Pass, some 15,397 feet (4,693 metres) above sea level in the Karakoram Mountains.
“They have not let us down a single time,” he said.
The “second best gift Italy gave to the world”, hey? I do love me some pizza, so I guess Vespa will have to settle for second place. That’s actually quite heartwarming, to be honest.
No doubt a labour of love, original spare parts are rare and only a handful of mechanics are skilled enough to restore the originals. When parts aren’t available, Vespa owners are forced to settle for “low quality Indian-made parts or ask for mechanics to fashion new pieces of bodywork from scratch”:
Farrukh Shahbaz, who 14 years ago inherited his father’s blue 1961 Vespa, has had to have the scooter repaired three times, but he cherishes the memory and love his father had for the machine.
“My father told me it came packed in a wooden box,” said Shahbaz, 50.
But the struggle is nearly over: a local company has announced that the latest Vespa models will be on sale in Pakistan from later this year.
Thankfully, Vespa is well established in South Africa, and treating yourself to a colourful scooter has never been easier: Vespa South Africa offers buyers the chance to get Vespa Finance, with a plan tailored to your needs, to get you up and running.
Even better – pop Seth an email, and he will gladly hook you up with a discount, too.
And, if there’s one thing that is evident from the old school Vespas still driving today, it’s that the Piaggio brand never lets you down.
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