Most fans of vintage scooters are well aware of the infamous “Viet-bodge” – restorations of vintage Italian scooters that look great on the surface, but are a mechanical nightmare underneath. Horror stories abound of beautifully “restored” machines bought on eBay that were wholly unfit for the road. It’s too bad, really. With so many old bikes to be had all over the world, what if there were somewhere else outside of Europe where one could find a responsibly restored vintage scooter?
Time is reporting that a growing vintage Italian scooter restoration scene is in full swing in India. An abundance of old scooters plus a surplus of experienced mechanics means a lot of old bikes are taking to the road again. India is a place that, unlike the United States, has a real cultural relationship with scooters that goes back solidly half a century. Yet while that relationship to scooters goes back so far, the restoration scene is really starting to take off more recently.
The work of restoring vintage scooters is arduous. The companies have scouts looking for vintage models all over the country. When an old scooter is acquired and delivered to the workshop, mechanics will work on it for a month or even more. But because wage costs are relatively low, and spare parts locally available, buying from India is cost effective. Restoring a vintage scooter in Europe can cost as much as $6,000; the same work in India, including shipping, comes to about $2,000.
The question in the end is the Vietnam problem. Are these bikes simply pretty? Or are they mechanically sound too? In my heart of hearts, I want there to be more vintage scooters out on the road. Anybody in the ScooterFile readership have any experience with one of these Indian restorations? We’d love to hear from you.