In Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, a group of enthusiasts is defying the trend of high-speed motorbikes dominating the automotive market. Instead, they cling to vintage VESPA scooters and have ambitious plans to tour Italy, the birthplace of these iconic bikes.
Manufactured by an Italian company in 1946, VESPA scooters gained popularity among Pakistanis in the early 1960s as a reliable two-wheel option. However, with the rise of domestic production and assembly of CD70 motorbikes in the 1990s, the demand for VESPA scooters declined.
Nevertheless, a dedicated group of 30 bikers in Quetta, known as the Mukhlis (sincere) Scooter Group, continues to cherish these uniquely-colored scooters. Founded in 2005 by 39-year-old Ejaz Ahmed, a local businessman who began riding his father’s 1976 VESPA model in eighth grade, the group embarks on comfortable long rides outside of Quetta every Friday. Having already completed a 4,000-kilometer tour of Pakistan, their next endeavor is a journey to Europe.
“We want to travel to Italy to show the Italians that we [the people of Pakistan] have preserved their VESPA in very good condition,” said Sadaat Khan Kakar, a practicing advocate at the Balochistan High Court and owner of five VESPA scooters of different models.
Members of the group express their love for VESPA scooters, finding them more comfortable than modern-day bikes. Ahmed, the group’s founder, highlights their fuel efficiency and comfort, comparing the experience to driving a car after a 400- to 500-kilometer ride.
The group’s dedication to preserving their VESPAs is evident, as they treat them with utmost care, parking them inside their homes to avoid even a single scratch. They only venture out with their scooters once a week. Surprisingly, while bike snatching is a common problem in Pakistan, no scooter belonging to the group has ever been reported stolen. Ahmed attributes this to the unique riding experience of VESPA scooters, which are not suitable for high-speed maneuvering through narrow city streets.
In Balochistan, VESPA scooters are available for prices ranging from Rs20,000 ($70.18) to Rs1 million ($3,508). Despite the steep price tags, enthusiasts willingly invest in these scooters, not only for their riding pleasure but also for engine maintenance and customizations.
However, maintaining and repairing VESPA scooters poses challenges. Few mechanics are familiar with the intricacies of their engines, and finding spare parts is also difficult. The group members used to purchase spare parts from local shops in Quetta, but now they have to order them from Lahore, Karachi, and even England and Italy.
Mansoor Ashraf, an experienced scooter mechanic and VESPA enthusiast in the city, refers to his scooter as a “mini-car” due to its two-wheel design that allows for carrying an extra passenger.
Despite the hurdles, this passionate group of VESPA enthusiasts in Quetta remains committed to their vintage rides, combining nostalgia with the thrill of exploration as they plan their journey to Italy, showcasing their well-preserved scooters to the country of their origin.
Story Source: Arab News Pakistan