Restoring iconic scooters of yesteryear

ITALIAN-manufactured Vespa scooters, introduced in the 1950s in Malaysia, are back in demand.

However, it is not easy to find one in the market as production stopped in 1980.

“There are new versions of scooters but hardcore fans still prefer the classic Italian scooters,’’ Yusdanizam Mohd Yusak said in an interview.

He said there were many people, aged between 20 and 40, looking to own one because their fathers had once owned scooters.

The 150cc and 200cc Italian Vespa produced between 1960 and 1980 are considered classics.

Yusdanizam cleaning the engine of a classic Vespa as part of the restoration work at his workshop in Jalan Pipit.Yusdanizam cleaning the engine of a classic Vespa as part of the restoration work at his workshop in Jalan Pipit.

Yusdanizam, 40, specialises in restoring old Vespas at his workshop in Jalan Pipit, Kampung Baru Masai in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

Vespas need specialised service, unlike Japanese-made motorcycles which can be sent for maintenance at any workshop, he said.

His expertise in repairing and restoring the old scooters attracts owners from Johor, Melaka and even Singapore.

Even those wanting to own a Vespa will look him up.

Yusdanizam said the Vespa Johor Owners Club (VJOC), based in Simpang Renggam, would assist him to get the classic scooters.

“Even if you are able to find one, it is unlikely that the owner will part with a Vespa unless you manage to persuade him,” he said.

He revealed that the best places to look for the scooters in Johor were at the kampung and Felda settlements in Batu Pahat, Kota Tinggi, Muar and Pontian.

Customer Indra Mohamad checking out the restored Vespa scooters.Customer Indra Mohamad checking out the restored Vespa scooters.

These scooters were not cheap, he said, adding that the asking price for a classic scooter was between RM5,000 and RM7,000 for those without grants and from RM10,000 for those with documents.

Yusdanizam said he rejected an offer from a Swedish expatriate working in Pasir Gudang who wanted to buy his Classic Vespa for RM30,000.

“The restoration cost for the Vespa starts from RM3,000 and the amount is higher if the scooter is in bad condition,” he elaborated.

He said he was able to repair and restore four scooters a month, subject to the availability of spare parts and components from Singapore.

The work involved in transforming a scooter to its original condition includes overhauling the engine, welding the floor of the scooter as well as rewiring and repainting the body.

Yusdanizam, who had worked as a factory supervisor for 15 years, learned to restore scooters from his father-in-law A. Rahman Suleiman, who is now 66.

“It takes skill and patience to fix a classic Italian scooter,” said Yusdanizam, adding that he even rejected a promotion to general manager of the company he worked in, to continue repairing Vespas.

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