For some of your MV.com readers, you may have seen Eric's recent ride posts. For those that haven't, meet Eric and follow his journey from Austin to The Old Dominion on a brand spankin' new Vespa 946. We'll start here with his initial post to let you in on his plans.....
"I've booked a flight for Tuesday 04/18/17 from Richmond to Austin, TX to pick the scoot of my dreams and ride it home. Yeah, yeah I know, y'all think I'm nuts. Take a number, I've been hearing that whole life. The scoot of my dreams... 2014 Vespa 946 "Bellissma", translated is "Gorgeous."
( < Eric and Collin at AF1)
In 1944, Piaggio engineers Renzo Spolti and Vittorio Casini designed a motorcycle with bodywork fully enclosing the drivetrain and forming a tall splash guard at the front. In addition to the bodywork, the design included handlebar-mounted controls, forced air cooling, wheels of small diameter, and a tall central section that had to be straddled. Officially known as the MP5 ("Moto Piaggio no. 5"), the prototype was nicknamed "Paperino" (either "duckling" or "Donald Duck" in Italian). Piaggio was displeased with the MP5, especially the tall central section. He contracted aeronautical engineer Corradino D'Ascanio, to redesign the scooter. D'Ascanio, who had earlier been consulted by Ferdinando Innocenti about scooter design and manufacture, made it immediately known that he hated motorcycles, believing them to be bulky, dirty, and unreliable. D'Ascanio's MP6 prototype had its engine mounted beside the rear wheel. The wheel was driven directly from the transmission, eliminating the drive chain and the oil and dirt associated with it. The prototype had a unit spar frame with stress-bearing steel outer panels. These changes allowed the MP6 to have a step-through design without a centre section like that of the MP5 Paperino. The MP6 design also included a single sided front suspension, interchangeable front and rear wheels mounted on stub axles, and a spare wheel. Other features of the MP6 were similar to those on the Paperino, including the handlebar-mounted controls and the enclosed bodywork with the tall front splash guard. Upon seeing the MP6 for the first time, Enrico Piaggio exclaimed: "Sembra una vespa!" ("It resembles a wasp!") Piaggio effectively named his new scooter on the spot. In April 1946, this amazing new, functional and innovative mode of transport was presented to the general public for the first time in a Golf Club in Rome. The shield was embossed with a new logo which replaced the previous Piaggio Aircraft emblem. Vespa was an immediate success and gained extensive media interest as well as public curiosity, surprise and even skepticism. The first sales of Vespa were managed through a small dealer network and the price of the standard model was 55,000 lire, while the deluxe version was sold for 66,000 lire. Spin forward to 2013 Piaggio was bold enough to release a handmade Scooter as a tribute to the release of the very first Vespa "Wasp" 70 years ago. The 946’s styling is sourced from Vespa’s original MP6 prototype developed in 1946, hence the 946 in the name. The “Ricordo Italiano!”, translated is "I remember Italian!" As I understand it, only 100 946's were imported into the United Stated each model year. The price of admission is $10,000 U.S. plus applicably fees, freight, prep, etc. officially making it the most expensive scooter ever massed produced. Done, too much for me so I wrote it off... Piaggio presently owns Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio Scooters, Derbi, Gilera, Vespa and Piaggio commercial vehicles. So as most U.S. folks know the dealer support in North America is weak sauce at best. Vespa and MG dealers have been folding up shop right and left nationwide for the last 10 years. As a result some of the larger dealerships in the country get to buy other dealers inventory at a reduced rate. Which brings me to flying out to AF1 in Austin. They started out small with just Aprilia and now are one of if not the biggest Italian m/c dealer in the nation. AF1 is a really good dealership and they know everything and then some about the Italian brands. They had one at a very handsome price OTD that was just about as cheap if not cheaper then a new Sprint 150! Sold! I'm on my way. I would like to give a shout out to Ed Cook, one of the owner's of AF1 and Colin Shanafelt my salesperson, They both have bent over backwards to accommodate my purchase to the point that Colin is going to pick me up at the airport in Austin. Many thanks! The specs: - Single cylinder 4 stroke, with catalytic converter and electronic fuel injection, Single overhead camshaft - 3 valve (2 intake, 1 exhaust) - Cylinder capacity 155 cc - Max speed 57 mph (93 km/h) - Tank capacity 2.2 gallons (8.5 liters) - MPG up to 117 mpg (up to 50 km / l) - Ignition Electric - Transmission Automatic “twist and go” CVT - Front suspension Single link arm with coil spring and dual-action hydraulic shock absorber - Rear suspension Coil spring with adjustable preload, mono shock with progressive lever system - Front brake Disk, 220 mm + ABS - ASR - Rear brake Disk, 220 mm + ABS - ASR - Seat height 31.6 in (805 mm) - Emissions approval EPA and CARB - Warranty All 2014 and newer Vespa scooters include a 2-year unlimited mileage warranty. *Limits are outlined in the warranty booklet. See dealer for details. - Roadside Assistance 1 Free year of Roadside Assistance provided by Road America and Road Canada ***Discontinued 01/01/17*** Why is this scoot so expensive? Good question! “Luxury scooter” is kind of oxymoronic, no? Jumbo shrimp! - Hand made - ASR electronic traction control – the first on a Vespa - Two-channel ABS - LED lighting all the way around (except the DOT U.S. version gets crappy winkers instead of the Frenched in LEDs the rest of the world gets) - 320 welds - Body is hand made out or metal (for the most part) - Damn sexy! Negatives: - Zero storage - Price - 155cc - Air Cooled The route! Austin to New Orleans, LA and get my first service done at The Transportation Revolution (Vespa Dealer). Stay the night in NOLA and hit it hard early the next morning working my way to the the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'll travel the entire BRP and hang a right to get home. I've just uploaded my routes on my GPS subject to change with the weather.
I have no idea how long this trip will take, if a brand new hand made scooter from Italy can make it without breaking down or if the weather will beat my ass the whole trip. What I do know is I have a lot of heart and determination. I'll just report the news as it unfolds, any of you that have read my other reports probably know this. I'll start packing in about a week and and will reveal what gear I used and why as I go. How well it did or how it failed. One things for sure, it will be a journey."
Follow the rest of Eric's epic journey from Austin to the Old Dominion HERE