There are a number of things that make the Vespa 946 a remarkable machine. For us, the fact that the 946 is an auto show concept vehicle come-to-life is the most entertaining aspect of the bike, but it’s really in the details that the 946 starts to earn its equally extraordinary price tag of $9,946. In addition to the 946’s mix of hand-assembly and CNC machined components, this scooter features a number of cast aluminum pieces that would be plastic on other Vespa models.
I recently had a chance to see a 946 partially disassembled. The front fender (which by the way, is one of those aluminum parts) had a significant chip in its paint from shipping, so it had to come off for repair. That meant a number of other components had to come off in preparation, so we were able to get a good look at the inside of the headset and the aluminum upper.
As you can see, the pieces appear to be sand cast and then machined to their final shape — a common way to make aluminum parts. What surprised me the most was just how thick these components are. At nearly half an inch thick, the headset upper was substantial. No worries about dents here.
Yet that had me thinking. The idea behind aluminum is weight savings, right? Yet these parts are so substantial that they’re certainly heavier than their plastic counterparts. Sure, they’re lighter than the equivalent part in steel, but not by much. Looking at the parts up close, I can only gather that the choice of aluminum was more about the quality of finish. It’s about the substance of the part.
That only left me with one lingering question, though. It’s not that there are no plastic body parts on the 946. The headlight shroud, for example, is plastic. I couldn’t help but wonder why this wasn’t simply cast in to the top of the headset. I guess you have to stop somewhere.