We were working on restoring the 1997 Vespa PX150E of actor, comedian and host Jeffrey “Epy” Quizon when he dropped a bomb in July 2011 – he decided to sell his beloved but battered all-steel Italian-made scooter! When asked why, Epy said that he went into business with some partners and he needed to buy a scooter for the messenger/rider of their new company. With his new business venture, Epy was afraid that he won’t have the time, budget and the inclination to see the restoration of his Vespa through. For a brief moment, we thought that our Project Vespa was finito, arrivederci, baby, but then…
Epy noticed that we had several scooters in and around our office. He was particularly interested in our long-term test 2011 Blaze Hubs 150, with its underbone commuter layout, 4-speed clutch-free semi-automatic manual transmission, fat 14-inch wheels, and unique look. He said that it would be a great scooter for his company’s messenger/rider, which would also leave a good impression to the clients of his new company.
When we told him that we also have a 2012 Genuine Scooter Stella 150, which is an Indian-made steel-bodied copy of the Vespa PX, albeit with a 4-stroke 150cc single-cylinder engine instead of a 2-stroke one, Epy immediately agreed to give us his sccoter in exchange for the two motorbikes. Even when Epy confided that someone misplaced the Vespa’s original Land Transportation Office (LTO) Official Receipt (OR) and Certificate of Registration (CR), we were not perturbed. We wanted to finish what we started so badly that we were willing to take the beaten, battered and badly neglected Vespa with all its problems head-on.
Paint and Bodywork
Now that we officially “own” our Project Vespa, we initially planned to take it to 2211 Works at Leon Guinto street in Malate, Manila. They gave us a job estimate where it would cost around P36,750 for a full restoration, broken down into P17,750 for parts and P19,000 for labor, including paint and bodywork, engine and transmission overhaul, and upholstery work for the saddle. We were undecided if we were going to restore it in its original dark green color, or paint it Hugger Orange with black stripes to match our 1971 Chevy Camaro RS project car, or keep it classic-looking and paint it white. However, we found ourselves leaning towards making it look like a Vespa for the Italian carabinieri (police).
Luckily, a good friend, Roberto “Bobby” Jose who runs the Rangeland Auto Shop in Marikina, which specializes in Range Rovers, is also a Vespa enthusiast. He agreed to sponsor the body work and paint of our Vespa and Bobby’s boys removed the rust, massaged its all-steel body panels back to its original form, and then painted the body white, and the front fender, horn cover, and side panels black. Needless to say, the artisans at Rangeland worked their magic to make our Vespa desirable once again.
From Rangeland, we then took our freshly-painted scooter and whatever parts we had to 2211 Works, where their technicians checked the forced air-cooled 2-stroke 150cc single-cylinder engine, supplied the missing parts, and then made it run again. 2211 Works proprietor Miguel “Migs” Oca was a diehard Vespa enthusiast who owns at least half-a-dozen collectible Vespa scooters and he committed to supply the necessary spare parts to complete our scooter’s restoration. Meanwhile, his service supervisor, Simon Barcelon, oversaw the refurbishment of our Vespa’s motor and 4-speed transmission, drum brakes and single-sided suspension.
Work in Progress
We went to JT Triumph Marketing in Caloocan City to get three pieces of Shinko 10 x 3.50 white-wall tires to wrap around our Vespa’s split-rimmed steel wheels. We initially wanted to have the wheels chrome-plated or powder-coated but left them in their factory silver paint while we shore up funds. We weren’t able to have the torn saddle restored before we displayed our Vespa (ooh, we love it when we say it’s now “our” Vespa) alongside our long-term test 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in our MotorCycle Magazine booth at the Manila International Auto Show or MIAS in April 2014.
While it was displayed in its “work-in-progress” condition at the show, another friend, Lorenzo “Babes” S. Rojas, proprietor of Leder Interia, a renowned automotive upholstery and restoration shop which also has a display booth at MIAS, saw our Vespa’s tattered-and-torn saddle and offered to have it refurbished by his shop. We took the seat to Leder Interia two weeks later, and a specialist wasted no time in removing the old, torn synthetic leather while carefully keeping the mounting bolts for the seat lock and the four small metal backing plates for the chrome grab rail. As if by magic, our old tattered-and-torn saddle began to look like new again in no time.
Before Epy gave up his ownership of this Vespa, we were planning to host a fun “surprise reveal” at the Dolphy Studio inside ABS-CBN or Bikers’ Night party when we’re finished with the scooter’s restoration. Despite now owning the PX150E, we still felt that we have an obligation to make it a tribute to the late, great King of Philippine Comedy, Dolphy Quizon, since we got it from his son. We ditched the idea of the caribinieri scooter and began playing with the idea of having a caricature of the late funnyman hand-painted on the right front panel of our scooter. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, what do you think?