We'll call this my first post, since I've been unable to register for
the last six months for some reason (no worries, lurking here has been
so incredibly, amazingly helpful in the project!).
It's a 1965 Vespa Super Sport 180 from FLCL (fooly cooly)
Hopefully the enthusiastically purist members will forgive me this
indiscretion, as it is an all-out replica instead of just another member
of the P! sticker army!
Last summer I decided to fulfill one of my wife's long-standing dreams
of having a scooter. She would often talk about wanting a Ruckus or a
superbike, but she would more frequently fawn over how cute a classic
Vespa looked. She's also a pretty avid costumer, the kind of girl who
spends hours dying and styling wigs, who has completely taken over the
second bedroom of our apartment with rolls of fabric, buckets of resin,
and all manner of crafting accessories.
I started a secret savings account last July and I've been putting
little things into it since. eBay sales, tips from when we use the movie
cars as charity limos, stuff like that. In February I reached my goal
and started officially looking for a starter body. The SS 180 is a
pretty sought-after type of scooter, it's not the rarest or most
valuable, but it's really popular. Originally I planned to build a clone
by buying a late 70s P-series scooter and swapping out the parts to
make it into an comparable look-alike of an SS. At the end of February I
lucked out. Someone in Arizona was selling an SS, the exact body type
that I needed. The exterior was kind of rough, but mechanically it was
sound. The original engine had been removed and replaced with a more
powerful, more reliable, and easier to maintain engine from a P200. This
made the scooter undesirable for a collector, but ideal for someone who
wanted to turn it into a nerdmobile. I guess the meme of "and nothing
of value was lost" might apply here!
So I made up a story about going snowmobiling across the divide with my
brother as a cover to keep my wife from asking too many questions. I
grabbed a good friend to tag along and we departed for Flagstaff,
We drove through the night, planning to sleep in Socorro, but stopped in Albuquerque to visit Walt's car wash from Breaking Bad. That was pretty cool.
After leaving Socorro we headed west to another place I've been dying to visit for years, the Very Large Array.
Most famous for it's role as a location in Contact, Terminator:
Salvation, and a handful of other films, the VLA is a set of 27 dishes
arranged in a Y-shape that act as one large radio telescope. We hit the
visitors center, watched the little video and looked at the exhibits,
and I picked up some VLA swag for my nerd friends back home. The staff
saw the car and got pretty excited (we must have been their only
visitors in a while), and they let us drive around the access roads of
the facility for some neat photo opportunities. Great people, awesome
place. You should go.
Near Holbrook, Arizona we came across an old Route 66 Wigwam motel that
had classic cars parked in front of each room to add to the atmosphere.
So it looks like Radiator Springs is a real place!
After that was Meteor Crater.
Which is pretty goddamn amazing. I was a bit disappointed that it felt
like a tourist trap thanks to it being privately owned, but the crater
itself is worth seeing. VERY cool.
We arrived in Flagstaff around 4pm and made our way to seller's house.
He ran over the details of the scooter, things like modifications,
damage, behavior, all the good stuff.
At this point, I had never driven a motorcycle or scooter by myself.
Now that I think about it, the only two-wheeled motorized vehicle I'd
ever been in control of had been a Segway! He took me around the block
on it, gave me a quick lesson, and I tried it myself. It almost got away
from me at first (the P200 engine is a goddamn MONSTER for this thing),
but I figured it out and took my first ride in a neighborhood in
Arizona. We loaded it up into the back of the Magnum, it fit perfectly.
This was a huge relief as, eyeballing the space back there, it didn't
look like it would fit. The measurements the owner gave me before I left
were well within the confines of the car, so I had to trust the math.
The fuel tank was pretty empty, but it still reeked of gasoline,
something we'd have to endure for the next 12 hours. We went home by
going north through Utah. Moab, Grand Junction, Vail, and back in Denver
by 2am, which was pretty good!
After getting it hope and secreting it to a friend's garage for storage
away from prying eyes, we stripped it down and got it ready for paint.
Kind of sad to see the flat black go, that looked REALLY cool...
A week later it was ready!
Initially I'd planned to get the scooter 100% complete before giving it
to my wife. But she is pretty particular about her cosplay stuff, her
favorite costumes are the ones she made completely from scratch. For her
it's more about making them than wearing them. So I changed my plans
and decided to unveil the scooter early so she could be a part of the
assembly process, thereby turning it into something she helped make.
When she first saw it, she didn't quite understand. She thought it was
just someone else's scooter that would be perfect for a Haruko FLCL
scooter. When I stated that it was hers, she looked at me confused,
shoved me, and started crying.
God. Damn. Adorable. :3
We brought the Vespa home and wiggled it into the elevator and up into the apartment. Work started immediately.
And it was all back together a few days later!
Immediately after getting it roadworthy, one of the gear selector cables snapped and the scooter was back under my wrench.
Installing the bar-end turn signals.
The bar-end lights have been particularly frustrating. After many hours
of researching online and chatting with the guys at Sportique, we
determined that the headpiece of her scooter is an SS180, but that the
handlebar "twist grips" are from a 60s or 70s Vespa Rally. I'm sure one
of you could tell me tons of things about the scooter that I would have
never known otherwise, though!
But it's nice to know that the original "production" Vespa is at least as much a frankenscooter as this one is.
People at anime cons will likely know exactly what the scooter is all
about, but it's an obscure-enough cartoon that lots of people probably
won't even know what the ****, so I made this for her to put next to it.
Vespas are sassy.
Tapping the holes for the fin.
The sticker on the leg shield was a placeholder, she applied the final vinyl and pulled it off - the finishing touch!
Things left to do for the scooter:
- replace a few gray seals with black ones
- replace the legshield beading the original, fatter trim
- fix the horn
- add the 3D "egg" shape on the side of the fin.
- I may or may not add the ignition slot on top of the headpiece. It's
rarely drawn on the scooter in the show, and when it is, there usually
isn't even a key in it.
- create an accurate "5656" license plate. "FLCL" is the current custom plate we're gunning for.
Things left to do for us:
- motorcycle safety class
- gear shopping
My wife cosplayed as Haruko back in 2007, so now she's in super go-mode
to get that costume back up to her standards so she can wear it on the
scooter at the next con!
A terribly fun project that will make for a terribly fun summer!
Unbelievably huge thanks to Sportique Scooters here in Denver, and ScooterWest for tons of parts!