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1997 Vespa PX150E Part 2: The Ups and Downs of Restoring Epy’s Vespa

We recently revived our old 1997 Vespa PX150E, one of our old Project Bikes from our old MotorCycle Magazine, which we got from Jeffrey “Epy” Quizon, the versatile actor, TV host, and son of the late King of Comedy Dolphy. Please allow us to turn the clock back by 16 years to when we first started the restoration of our 2-stroke steel-bodied classic Italian scooter. 

In January 2007, our friend actor/comedian/host Epy Quizon told us of his damaged and neglected 1997 Vespa PX150E that he planned to restore but never got to. We offered to restore it for him, got the scooter from his house in February, and immediately took it to Euro Motors Corporation (EMC), which was the Philippine distributor of Piaggio, Vespa and Vitto scooters at the time. Eddie Limon, who was the president of EMC then, directed us to their service shop in Kamagong Street in Makati so their mechanics can try to start the Vespa and check what other repair work would be needed. As we were unloading the scooter from our pickup truck, we were advised to buy a new Vespa instead of restoring the one we had because it looked like it had already been cannibalized. But when we told them that Dolphy’s son owns that particular Vespa, they agreed that it might be worth restoring.  After all, it’s not everyday that they can work on the Vespa of the Son of the King of Philippine Comedy.

While it was parked at the entrance of the EMC service garage, we can’t help but compare the condition of Epy’s scooter to the complete and newer Vespa and Vitto scooters around it. We were inclined to agree that it would be more practical to just buy a new one, especially since our Vespa would require a tremendous amount of work. The dented panels needed to be straightened and repaired. Some of the bent chromed parts needed to be fixed, cleaned, stripped and re-chromed. The torn saddle needed to be re-foamed and re-covered. The broken clutch and brake levers needed to be replaced. The worn tires needed a replacement set and the shot wiring needed to be sorted.

Lost and Found Parts

A few days after we dropped the Vespa off at EMC, Epy’s friend and personal assistant, RR Vela, delivered some of its missing parts, including the front nose section, which houses the horn, and the front compartment panel. RR also informed us that the scooter’s registration hadn’t been renewed since 1999 so we cannot legally ride it around once we get the forced air-cooled 2-stroke single-cylinder running. We went back to EMC to check on our scooter and drop off the front nose section and the compartment panel. We had placed the parts on the Vespa and made a mental list of other parts that it needed, such as a new headlamp, new front turn signal assemblies, new rear tail lamp lens and rear turn signal lenses, a new seat lock and ignition key set, and a new battery.

Epy found the missing parts of our Project Vespa, including the front nose section…

… and front compartment panel, which…

… bore dents and scratches from numerous drops and crashes.

We received some good news from EMC’s  Joel Lapuz, who told us that the mechanics cleaned the carburetor and were able to start the Vespa. He reported that the 2-stroke motor runs well but they were not able to check if the clutch and the transmission are still okay because the clutch lever needed to be replaced first. Joel promised to find and install clutch and brake levers so they check the clutch, transmission and brakes and maybe take the Vespa out for a short road test.  He also suggested to have the whole scooter disassembled to repair the beat-up body panels before to prepping it for paint. We were getting very excited at this point.

After the top half of the carburetor was removed and the bowl and the body cleaned, it was carefully reassembled…

EMC mechanics and technicians tried and succeeded in starting the Vespa’s 2-stroke motor.

Hectic Schedules and Changing Times

Our hectic schedule of publication deadlines, events, test drives, product launches and out-of-town media drives prevented us from regularly visiting Epy’s Vespa at the EMC workshop from the second until the third quarter of 2007. Every now and then, we would call EMC to get updates on the Vespa’s restoration progress and they would say that work on it was interrupted because they have to prioritize several customers’ units. Since the work on our Project Vespa was sponsored, we understood that they have a hectic schedule as well, thus we just had to patiently wait for them to disassemble the Vespa so we can take its steel body and metal panels to a good body repair and paint shop.

Towards the last quarter of 2007, we were informed that there were management changes at EMC and that we needed to re-negotiate the sponsorship of the Vespa’s restoration with the new management. Then, we were told that EMC was no longer the Philippine distributor of Vespa scooters so they cannot sponsor its restoration anymore. We were charged P2,500 for the Vespa’s disassembly and re-assembly, and we thought about pulling it out in bits and pieces to avoid paying the re-assembly costs. But then, we realized that there’s no sense in pulling the scooter out in boxes only to find that some parts are missing. If that happened, we wouldn’t really know if we left the missing part at EMC or if it was already missing in the first place. We’d rather be safe than sorry even if our pocket will be lighter by P2,500.

We’re beginning to think that “we bit off more than we can chew” by taking on the restoration of the neglected Vespa of the Son of the King of Philippine Comedy. We’re just surprised that the local distribution of Piaggio and Vespa has been passed around from Veloci Motors to EMC to another new company. But we’re pretty sure that we won’t quit on giving Epy’s Vespa a second lease on life. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this Italian steel scooter’s “Epyc” (epic) saga!


Odometer Reading: 9,132 km

Mileage Since Last Report: Still zero.

Accessories Costs: N/A (So far, we hadn’t bought any.)

Service Costs: P2,500 – Disassembly and Reassembly charges

Total Costs, to date: P2,500