First loves. They stay with us forever, one way or another. Usually as a memory doused with nostalgia and better times. For Sandy’s first (scooter) love, this wouldn’t just me a memory, but a machine that’s been turned up to eleven. Oh, and it’s also got nitrous.
After checking out Sandy’s workshop at S.S. Scooter Engineering, something caught our eye. There lay, glimmering in the afternoon light, a scooter that was something to behold. Immaculate in every sense, the closer you look the more the prestige of this scoot was elevated. It’s in hearing the story behind this scooter that appreciation for it reaches new levels.
Originally purchased when Sandy was living in the UK, the scooter was in all original condition, with a pea green body and plenty of dents and prangs. After acquiring it, Sandy was quick to get cracking into making this 1973 Vespa Sprint Veloce something to suit his needs. “First off I gave it a coat of gunmetal grey and a 180cc upgrade. I wasn’t satisfied with this still so the barrel port timing star was modified, crankshafts flowed and balanced, and different expansion pipes experimented with to see what would give better all round performance.”
“I was very lucky of met my mentor and tuning guru, Trevor Howe of Project-13 fame, in my time living in the UK. His specialty/obsession lay on tuning so-called small frame Vespa’s. He taught me everything from paint and panel, nut and bolt restorations, to high-end two stoke tuning where we would take a humble 3 hp 50cc scooter and create a 20hp cannon ball. We would take her to Santa Pads drags to see would take to see what she could do. The bug for speed, tuning and precision workmanship was well and truly instilled.”
It would seem that just about all of Sandy’s time and money was being poured into this machine, as pay-check after pay-check was funneled into the cause. With the thirst for power came gremlins, however, and it was soon apparent for this scooter to become a ball-tearer, it would need to handle the stress. “As the horsepower from this tiny engine was doubled, pistons started to be holed, clutches exploded, and worse yet engine cases started to crack. “
A solution to this overworking of the scoot would be in Sandy creating a formula that would create maximum horsepower with matched reliability. No easy marriage, but something he was up to the task of. “Armed with my 125cc T5 engine case, a tig welder and die grinder, the final – more reliable – engine started to come together.”
The original factory run for this scooter was 7.7hp at 5200rpm, with a dyno run of 28 horsepower, the test of Sandy’s work has held up. “After a few months on the road I decided to tear the whole machine down once more. I wanted a bare metal resprayed, which is where the years of paint and bog that had been applied to the scooter were revealed. Once the battle scars were beaten back into shape it would receive the final coat of Gunmetal Grey. I added a fibreglass race seat from Germany to help add to its performance aesthetic.”
Something very unique about this build, and something that will catch the attention of anyone that looks at it, is nitrous system. Sandy’s lust for power knows no limits, and a perversion of the machine gods was soon to be made. “With the need for more power, I settled on a nitrous system to sate my appetite. With my mate Weasel helping to be the demon in my ear, I got to work. I plumbed in the nitrous system with the fuel pump, solenoids, battery and wiring all hidden neatly inside the frame. It was designed using a bottle that gave a 15 second release, which should be more than enough for the intended quarter mile runs I had in mind. Once armed with the main switch which is house under the seat, the system would give a squirt of juice with the fuel pump running once the throttle was wide open and third and fourth gears were engaged. This provided a system that would automatically shut off when the throttle was released.
“This was my first Vespa, and is still a large part in my life. It’s my longest relationship of over 25 odd years. A small wager with my good friend Darren Shepherd that I could not crack the 12 sec mark on the quarter mile was a big part of adding the nitrous. In a mad rush over the Christmas break I installed the set-up as the Australian Scooter National was being held in a weeks time in Port Macquarie. She was quickly tested on King St, and off I headed up the coast. Unfortunately, the Nitrous has never been Drag tested as shortly afterwards, Darren tragically died at Eastern Creek while drag racing his Modified 8 sec Harley.”
Ported t5 Cases
Ported Malossi barrel and piston
RD350 reed block
V force 4 reed 28PHBH Dellorto carb
SIP stainless exhaust with modified manifold
Worb 5 drop bars
Billet master cylinder
Full hydraulic Billet front disc brake
Semi-hydraulic rear disc conversion
Front BGM Damper
STO spring and SIP sport seat