Barn Scooter: 1955 Vespa 150

Place your hand into the Mouth of Truth and answer this: have you ever thought about how much fun it might be to own a vintage Italian scooter? If you’ve still got you fingers, get ready to click on a link, because this 1955 Vespa 150 is up for auction here on eBay. At the time of writing no one has yet placed the starting bid of $2,500, but there are four days left in the auction. Of course, if you can’t risk missing out on this bit of la dolce vita, you can always pay the Buy It Now price of $4,500.

The first Vespa scooters were born of Italy’s need to get moving after the end of the Second World War and manufacturer Piaggio’s need to produce a salable product even though its aircraft factory was mostly a pile of rubble. Drawing inspiration from a number of sources, including American scooters like those built by Cushman, the company managed to wed aero styling with a 98 cc engine to produce their first two-wheeler. Sources differ on the source of the name “Vespa,” which is Italian for “wasp.” Some say it comes from the little bike’s looks, while others claim it refers to the sound of the two-stroke engine.

Wherever the name came from, Piaggio had a hit, and as numerous models followed over the years, engine sizes steadily increased, eventually resulting in the production of the large frame models, like this 150. Named for its one-cylinder engine, which produced either 5.4 or 5.8 hp (depending on which source you believe), this Vespa had a reported top speed of just over 50 mph. Although it’s been repainted and it does show its age, there is a lot to like here. Aside from the front wheel, the rust does not appear to be fatal– take a look at the underside here. The most obvious flaw is the tail light, which isn’t original. Curiously, both the tail light and the horn are powered by a dynamo attached to the engine, so neither would ordinarily work when the scooter isn’t running. The headlight and other electrical equipment is directly powered by the 6v battery.

Vintage scooters might not be for everyone, but it’s hard not to smile when you see a Vespa on the street. When you think about it, you could definitely pay a lot more for a piece of Italian motoring history from the 50’s, and put a lot more into a restoration than this is likely to take. In terms of sheer enjoyment, pound-for-pound, not much stacks up to a Vespa. It’s a utilitarian vehicle that not only got Italy rolling again, but did so in a characteristically Italian way– a little thing, done just so, like a gelato on a warm summer night. In its own way, perfect.

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Comments

  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Shoo! Boy does that bring back memories of the old days. Where I grew up only girls rode these things. It’s a nice piece of memorabilia but not even close to the opening bid being asked for. Try $500.00 and you might get a bite or two.
    But then again, like P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute”.
    God bless America

    Like 12
    • MattR Member

      John my bet is that you are going to be surprised by the final bid. I bought a 1966 Vespa Allstate from a farmer for $50 in the 90’s.Those days are long gone. $2500 seems like the minimum for vintage Vespa’s these days. I’ve seen people ask close to 10k for some restored ones. I doubt they are getting that, but $4k probably happens a lot, at least on the west coast. It’s nuts.

      I still have a soft spot for the vintage ones. I had 3 at one point in college. I used to do highway 12 from Madison to Chicago and back quite a bit back then. They are quite bullet-proof when you have them tuned up.

      Like 9
      • greg

        How long ago did you tempt faith and ride a scooter on that road? I use to know it well in the late 60’s. Dangerous even then not to mention all the little suburbs today.

        Like 2
    • Steveo

      You can buy a nice looking, running 1966 for less than the opening bid amount.

      • MattR Member

        @greg – I was running on that road around ’89 – ’93 mostly..

  2. chrlsful

    looks like 1st vehicle I ever wrked on.
    History teach/football coach (Y do they all ways have history to teach?) hada frozen piston. I hung it frm a rafter (horizontal piston) & poured break-up juice in the spark plug hole till it dripped out (daily? wkly? 56 yrs ago). Not long I could push piston thru its cycles. Brought back, un-disassembled he was amazed’n happy.
    Don’t think he ever thanked or paid me so I went on w/that expectation. It has served me well as it find solving problems fun. When thanked and paid now it’s just the gravy. Find something U enjoy and life will B enjoyable no matter the ratfinks (Big Daddy E.R.) U run into…

    Like 2
  3. A.G.

    I’ve owned a couple of Vespas and a couple of Cushmans. When I was young and living in Lincoln my father took me to the Cushman plant. I regret I was too young to appreciate it.

    Riding any vintage scooter can be fun including my 45 CID scooter from Milwaukee. Unfortunately there are so many aggressive, self-entitled people on the roads today I seldom ride. I miss the civility. BF is a welcome relief. I thank y’all.

    Like 17
    • A.G.

      I thank y’all for the civility, not the road-rage.

      Like 6
  4. That AMC Guy

    Is this a Vespa being driven around 1960s Puerto Rico in the (truly awful) 1965 film “Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster”?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EF1Newek4c

    Like 2
  5. Howard A Member

    Being a family site, I can’t finish this saying, but you can figure it out,,,there are 2 things you only do late at night after the bars close,,, one is ride a Vespa, and 2,,well,you know. Coming from ol’ Harleytown itself, only the very brave would ride a Vespa. Maybe in Madison, or Stevens Point( college towns) I rarely saw any. Later on, mopeds came in great numbers, (70’s) but posed no threat to our beloved Big Twins. Then the Asian road monsters came in(80’s), different story. While I’d never have considered a scooter, in certain applications, it could work. These classic Vespas are all the rage on “TV”, but in reality, with all the distracted driving in a city, the only place this could be used, you’d have to be nuts to ride one.

    Like 4
  6. RichieRich

    Even if you restore it -its best left in the garage – or hang it up in the house as a piece of Italian art work — if you ride around the city you look such a dork that people aim for you — Just saying !!

    Like 1
  7. Mike Mittge

    Had a late-40’s Cushman as a kid in about 1960. Paid about 50 bucks for it, probably sold it for the same. Wish I had kept it, it was fun to ride. Of course, what is now retro- cool was just dorky then.

    Like 3
  8. dogwater

    The way people drive today no way would I go on the highway with that thing death wish.

    Like 1
  9. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Ok, so maybe I have a death wish, or as Howard put, I’m crazy. Since moving to Vegas a few ago I have been contemplating getting a scooter. Not something old or classic, but a new scooter to go grocery shopping in or stroll the strip.
    Easy to park, ride and maneuver. Gas prices are creeping up and Nevada is the third highest priced state in the country. The only reason I didn’t get one a few years ago is because my credit wasn’t that good, but it’s better now, plus, I paid my car off so maybe now is the time.
    Maybe put some Cadillac emblems on it. 😅

    Like 10
    • Richard Willoughby Member

      Put some 426 Hemi emblems on it or Cobra emblems

    • Howard A Member

      We’re ALL a little crazy, or we wouldn’t be interested in this stuff. I could understand for short in-town trips, could be very handy, although, I rarely see one. You’d think with the tree huggers and activists here, fuel conservation would be front burner, but even they have their limits, and can’t compete with their air conditioned Subarus. Today, most new scooters are the generic Chinese kind,( with the crappy belt drive) and have poor mechanicals. If going the scooter route, for a little more, I’d go the Vespa. Like 8 million Europeans can’t be wrong.

      Like 2
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Just buy another Midget, ACD. Same effect as a scooter. Room for a couple more bags of groceries. Parking’s as easy as with a scooter too.

  10. Tony B.

    I currently own a ’63 Allstate, a newer Stella 150, and dozens of motorcycles. I’m very well-versed in bikes, and I can tell you…a ’55 is only for a VERY dedicated enthusiast. I do all my own work, and wouldn’t consider an early Vespa as a bike I wanted ride on a regular basis. Would look great in my shop though! And yes, this will probably bring at least $4k.

    Like 3
  11. Robert Eddins

    Where,s Mike Wolfe when you need him?
    Being a 55′ it just might be a keeper, or a fix and seller.

    Like 2
    • Lee

      Mike always says how much they stand to make on items, but never tell you how much he really makes.

      Like 3
  12. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah

  13. Dave

    This was my first motorized vehicle. Found it thrown away at the town dump. Oiled down the cylinders, you know the routine, got it started and never looked back. Lived in a very wooded small town where I took rides all over the country roads. I was 13 years old. If I heard a car coming, I just drove it off the road and dumped it by the trees. A very fun time in my life the mid 60’s.

    Like 5
  14. Lawrence Roberts

    High revving two stroke motors have a limited lifespan. The electrics on this vehicle will be a nightmare. For the asking price you could build an electric bike with enough acceleration to get you out of trouble.

  15. Solosolo Member

    I wanted to buy a house back in 1973 so sold my 1968 Chrysler Valiant and borrowed some money from my bank in order to raise a deposit to do so. Now I had no transport so managed to buy an old Vespa 150cc. My kids were only 8 and 6 years old so to get them to school I made a hook to fit to the spare wheel in order to hang my daughters school bag on, and my son squatted between my legs. Try that today and see how far you get!

    Like 8
  16. Robbie M.

    Toad had one in American Graffiti. “that’s almost a motorcycle”

    Like 3
  17. Jim

    My second bike was a second hand 1960 Allstate Vespa scooter that worked great and was fun to drive . I used it all summer to drive to army reserve camp. This one for sale looks pretty tired but with work I guess a new owner could make it look good again!

    Like 1
  18. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I just went to the eBay listing and so far not one bid.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  19. Trashboat

    Great write up! Not sure why there’s so many negative comments and fear revolving around a vintage Vespa? Pretty sure similar model scooters are driven all around the world in insane, traffic filled cities. Life is risk and these old Vespas are a blast.
    The older Vespas are bulletproof transportation! The electronics (magneto) are super reliable and very far from complicated. I’ve had a 65 Allstate with 8 inch wheels up to 75mph without any wobbles or scares. Do you need a loud $20,000 dollar Harley to be manly? nope.

  20. t-bone BOB

    Ended: Jun 16, 2021 , 2:15PM
    Winning bid:US $3,161.00
    [ 3 bids ]

    Like 1

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