1958 Vespa VBA 125

Let's go for a ride on a vintage Vespa!

Published on 28 Jan 2022

This restored Vespa was the oldest participant in the 2019 Classic Scooter run from Colombo Galle Face to the finish point at the Wurth HQ at Pannipitiya. Piloting this oldest-in-event two-wheeled classic was one of the youngest rider participants a youth of just 27, Kasun Jayasuriya. The Vespa from 1958, Kasun from more than three decades later.

When Vespa 2 Sri 5551 came to the Jayasuriya family, the all-steel bodywork was heavily rusted and, of course, the bike was a non-runner. “If you rubbed your finger on it, the paint just flaked off,” said Kasun and his father Ashoka Jayasuriya. Both are avid scooter and motorcycle enthusiasts and deeply into two-wheeler restoration. In what is probably a record time for two-wheeler restoration - just a month and a half - 2 Sri 5551 went from flake to finish in the loving hands of the father-son duo.

Ashoka says “We sand-blasted the entire bodywork, sprayed on undercoating, and painted the original colour.” The colour you see in these pages is Royal Ivory, popular choice of classic two-wheeler manufacturers. Also period appropriate are the white-walled tyres, spare wheel and rear-view mirror (both the latter missing on the original bike) and their mounting locations, and the upholstery of the single saddle.

Some parts had to be sourced; damage from age and neglect had rendered the originals unusable especially the rubber parts. After all, it was six decades since the brand new Vespa had left the Italian Works.

We are told by Ashoka that the engine bore is the standard size and that the carburetor is mounted onto the engine barrel in this model of Vespa. The speedometer, handlebar-mounted light switch and the taillight body are original as was. The handlebar grips are also as was; the Piaggio logo still on both grips as also the headlight lens with the original Vespa icon.

The Jayasuriyas tell us that sourcing engine parts was not without its difficulties, but that eventually, “When comparing the previous condition and the restored one the bike is so different and we are so happy after finishing the restoration” Ashoka and Kasun stress “The scooter is restored to original specifications. We want to keep everything original”. Of this Piaggio Vespa VBA 125 2 Sri 5551 Kasun Jayasuriya says, understandably with pride:  “This scooter could be the only one of its originality still running in the country.”

Piaggio and Vespa

Coming into this world in 1946, Piaggio’s “wasp”, Vespa in Italian its home language, this scooter soon caught on not only as a reliable personal transport vehicle for vast numbers across the globe but also for its adventure and fun value. In order to expand production overseas, Piaggio SpA, outsourced part of its manufacture to Douglas Limited, Bristol.  The Douglas Vespa was produced for a number of years beginning 1951. So popular did the Vespa turn out worldwide that it quickly became the universal ‘60s Mod culture icon. Engine capacities of the Vespa have ranged from 50cc to 300cc.  A sidecar model and a full-fledged four-wheeled automobile were produced for a while in the mid-1900s. Recent Vespa models have up-to-date tech such as electronic ignition, disc braking, and electric starter. Today, Piaggio’s Vespa is as relevant as ever, the brand competing strongly with its hybrid and electric models.

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