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."
(yes, that is a pic of my actual scoot I'm picking up)
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! http://af1racingaustin.com/
- 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!
- Zero storage
- Air Cooled
Austin to New Orleans, LA and get my first service done at The Transportation Revolution (Vespa Dealer) https://ttrno.com/ 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.
(More to come in about two weeks)
Last edited by Virginian on Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:31 pm; edited 5 times in total
1969 Vespa Rally 180, 2014 Yamaha Bolt 950, 2015 Vespa Primavera 150, 2015 Honda Grom 125
Joined: 19 Oct 2015
Location: Gulf Breeze, FL
There will be a ton of pics on the journey. Keeping my fingers crossed that the weather is kind to me.
Pictures and posts please. Looks like a great trip and you are in no way crazy. If you are so are a lot of us. If you pass near Dothan, look up Capt. Gary.
Someone told me to avoid Houston or that will take 3 hours to get through working my way over to NO. So I may revise that leg of the trip.
Vespa offers a multi media kit that replaces the kick panel and plugs into the left side for $300. For this color it has been discontinued which is fine with me as it was too expensive to me anyways and from what I read the multi media is gimmicky anyway.
That said I need to get power to my cell phone and GPS to get home. After speaking with the salesperson Colin, I opted to just order the OEM USB and grommet and just have it poke out from behind the kick panel. I figured I'd just break out the Dremmel and altar the stock kick panel.
I got an email yesterday:
Keith was able to go above and beyond on your USB connector. I have attached pictures. Also, the name plate pictured is kind of important for this model. I think we are still waiting on the windscreen.
Nice! I have never ever been treated so well on a purchase! Looking good and exactly what I was going to do.
The side medallion is a work of art and specific to your scoot with the VIN number etched in it.
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:48 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 21 Feb 2017
Gratulations, I personally think that this machine already will be a classic
when you roll it out of the showroom! Lucky bird!
Here in Thailand the 946 Emporio Armani carries almost the same price
tag as an entry level Honda Fit (City).
That means it is only a little bit more expensive than the S model Fit.
1500 Miles, eh....eh....: 2400 kms!
A glass of water please...
There is a balance between clothes and weather and that is a very
subtle one, so honor it as good as you can (and drink a lot)!
These were my big mistakes...
Looking forward to read more!
And travel light of course, unless you have some deliveries to do...
Joined: 16 May 2011
Location: Austin on IH35
you are going to have so much fun!!!!
Thank you for all the kind words and the business.
Our other two leftover 946 also sold this week, so we are now without any 946 on the floor....sad face....
we still miss our white demo we had when they first came out.
There is just something so special about the 946, the way it rides is awesome, and the styling is so elegant.
Windshield made it from Italy just in time and installed. I'm finishing up some work projects and I'm on vacation as of tomorrow! Flight leaves Richmond at 5:30 AM so an early start next Tuesday morning.
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total
2012 Vespa GTS300ie
Joined: 06 May 2016
300 GTS SS
Joined: 18 Apr 2017
Location: Austin, TX
I saw your bike in the shop last week! Those 946's are beautiful in person. Congrats and enjoy Austin!
Ok I'm a day behind so I'll try to get caught up!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total
Its 4:30 AM and I just boarded. Funny situation, your allowed only two carry ons. I have a backpack, dry bag and my helmet. The checking gal was busting my chops so I said "can I wear a hat on the plane?" She said sure, so I had to wear my helmet boarding to avoid checking in. LOL I got a few strange looks. I told the American Airlines staff that I thought I booked a flight with UA, hence the helmet. She burst out laughing!
Day one 360 miles:
So yesterday on a red eye I flew into Austin and within 10 minutes Colin greeted me and we were off to AF1. Again, props to Colin as he's a super guy and if you purchase from AF1 please give him a call!
My gear at o-dark-thirty... I really was stressing about checking in a bag and it not making the destination. Both bags are my life support on this journey.
Some eye candy at AF1. HOLY Mama Celeste of Italian bikes in their showroom! Just awesome and I finally got to throw a leg over the El Dorado!
Some nice vintage Vespa's as well.
And they wheeled out Bella...
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:52 am; edited 2 times in total
So while I'm jury rigging up my Nav and rear rack while they get the paperwork ready, I'm greeted by some of the staff and customers milling about asking if I'm the nut case riding a puny scoot back to VA.
Damn skippy I am! Proud of it too!
I sign on the dotted line and take the hero shot with Colin!
9 miles on the clock to start off this journey.
A massive storm front is rolling in so I don the rain gear and get the heck out of Austin as best I can. I slabbed it to escape Austin and then took some surface roads here and there. That's a very angry sky in the back....
I tried to get a pic of the scoot on the tracks but every time I climbed off it a car came and then a lady with her German shepherd. So this was the best i could do....
Loved the overhanging trees!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
As I'm exiting this road I happen upon this...
Hmmm? So I hop off and try sidewalk surfing across it to see if its slick. It's not so I do some ADVing across it with a just awesome 6" rooster tail of spray coming off my rear wheel.
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:53 am; edited 1 time in total
Some random shots...
If you can see in some of the earlier pics I donned the complementary rain cover over the leather seat. It stowed nicely with the tool kit.
Note: the lovely gas cap but it's a major PITA to top it off. It squirts up and in that troff every single time so you literally have to top it off just a little at a time.
Top speed 69 mph! Musta had a strong tail wind and been rolling downhill!
The bugs!!!!! Just wow! After every rainstorm they came out and smashed into me by the pound!
Apparently they're called love bugs. I see why now, about every 3rd one was doing the bump & grind thing. I flicked these two porn stars off Bella in a hurry!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:53 am; edited 2 times in total
I rolled out of TX and into LA and crossed over a massive bridge that went over Lake Charles I think? It was dusk, I & Bella have been rode hard and put away wet today so time to think about finding a hotel.
I went to 5 reputable hotels and none of them had outside doors to the room. You see, the plan was to wheel Bella into the room each night so I spoke with the check in gal and she said park it right in front of the door and I'll keep an eye on it as she had the night shift. Right on! This was in Iowa, LA.
This concludes day 1 and if I get time I'll post up day 2 this evening.
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:54 am; edited 1 time in total
73 & 74 Rally, 76 ET3, 80 P200, 06 PX150, 61 Ser 2, 65 Silver Special, 86 Elite 80, 2015 HD Road Glide Special, 2011 Ural Tourist
Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Location: Oceanside, CA
Awesome! Nice scoot man. Looks like you found the love bugs. I don't know what they're really called, but when I worked tugboats out of Lake Charles they'd be everywhere and sneak into everything.
Good to see another Glympse user. It's a great app and I caught you in Nola.
Day 2 317 miles - 677 Miles accumulative
I got up early and had a light breakfast anxious to get back on the road into NO on time for my first service. So I hit the road at 8 AM sharp allowing 4 /hours to get there, padding it another hour. So I jumped on I10 and within an hour it was gridlock... I lost 1.5 hours time getting underway on that leg making me run late to my service appointment.
Wow!!!!! The bridges in LA are just incredible. I traveled over so many and some of them covering the swamp area seemed to go on for 20 miles. Today was very windy so I was getting tossed around a bit but managed with no harrowing incidents.
One of many.
I finally beat my way into New Orleans and the old homes, architecture and canopy trees were amazing and definitely gave you a feel for NO.
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:55 am; edited 1 time in total
Loved the old school trolley cars that were operational.
Made it to Transportation Revolution for my first 600 mile service just a little short.
The service writer Kat Tomisato was very understanding and accommodating despite me being just about an hour late for my appointment. ttrno.com and their staff all greeted me at one point or another. The owner came up and greeted me and all had a genuine interest in what I was doing with a Vespa. Please vote with your dollars to keep good Vespa dealer's doors open. They did an amazing job and I was back on the road in no time.
Ok, here some eye candy from their store! Enjoy!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:55 am; edited 1 time in total
A few more to gander at...
THe Armani 946. Now I'm not down with the "Armani" garb on it but actually this is a stunning scoot. The paint looks flat black but it's actually a metallic metal-flake dark green.
What a nice shop, if you're ever in NO stop by and have a peek. Awesome place!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:56 am; edited 1 time in total
That's my scoot hiding in the back being worked on.
I thought this was notable.
The paint on the this scoot was a chameleon pearl, kind of cool.
They were kind enough to let me stow my gear behind the counter while I ventured out for a bite to eat.
So I stopped at a burger joint for a quick bite to eat while I was waiting.
I'm not sure what's up with the darkside beer taps?
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:56 am; edited 1 time in total
So I bailed out of NO, yeah I wanted to hang around but I'm on this ride for a ride, not to see the city. I'm saving my time to thoroughly enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I crossed into Mississippi. Sweet, three states in 48 hours.
My ass was hurting so on one of the gas stops so I snapped a few scenic pics, nothing notable.
I'm settled in at Hattiesburg MS For the night. I've earned a tall beverage and a hot shower. I didn't cover much ground today but most of it was a grind with traffic. I'm kind of glad to get out of big cities at this point.
(More to come)
Last edited by Virginian on Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:46 am; edited 2 times in total
Day 3 318 miles - 995 miles
I woke up feeling the fatigue of the past few days. I slept in an extra hour and had coffee as I was planning my day. What the heck, mine as well hit up the Barber Museum!
I crossed into Alabama!
I stopped for gas and grub. I took this pic as I find it funny a tattoo joint advertising on their truck.
I hammered my way to the Barber Museum.
Pretty cool parking in the front for motorcycles or in this case pasta scoots!
One hero shot... I'm having one of the best rides of my life today and making this far has been a great adventure.
Very cool statues out front. "The Chase"
Here comes the metric ass ton of museum pics!
Last edited by Virginian on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:58 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 23 Feb 2016
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Holy moly! I was digging the travelogue (don't know how I missed it when you first got on the road) and then BAM: the museum! Overwhelming!
You're doing it! And the smile on your face says it all. Very cool!
Hoping the last legs are dry, safe, and equally well documented.
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