Buzz Bomb – Sandy’s ’73 Vespa Sprint Veloce

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
Digital Speedo
Digital Tacho
Billet master cylinder
Full hydraulic Billet front disc brake
Semi-hydraulic rear disc conversion
Rear Bitubo
Front BGM Damper
STO spring and SIP sport seat



Culture Garage Sessions

S.S. Scooter Engineering

Vintage two-stroke Italian scooters run through Sandy’s blood. He dreams about them – their shape, their sound, their beauty. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about scooters than Sandy at S.S. Engineering, and the quality of his work is testament to this.

It would be living in England back in the 90’s that Sandy would first discover the scooter scene. It wasn’t just about the little two-stroke machines, but the culture around it. The music, the dancing, the diversity – it was a culture and a cult. “I remember riding down the Isle of Wight for the first time after spending the winter tuning my scooter and spending every last penny I had to get her ready. I was not prepared for the awesome sight of over 1000 vintage scooters and thousands of enthusiasts all in one place. I was so overwhelmed on the first day that I got there. I just sat down on the side of the road and watched for hours the parade of scooters, the plumes of smoke and continuous chorus of the two-stroke scooters screaming around the Island.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, and Sandy’s true love for these machines is absolutely contagious. Upon arriving back in Australia, some stowaways would return with him. This would be his new love for scooters, his tool box and his first scooter. “She started life as a humble 125cc, 5hp machine that struggled to get past 50kmh in a slight head wind. She became my test-bed and was a real application of what could realistically be achieved. On the last run of the drags she pulled up 13.8 sec with 28hp at the rear.”

Armed with all his passion, hard work and knowledge, Sandy would open his first workshop on King St in Sydney’s suburb of Newtown. This would become a hub for 2-stroke Vespas and Lambrettas, with every weekend bringing in enthusiasts from all walks of life together to share their uniquely Australian perspective and experience on scootering. “This would also become the place where I met my beautiful wife. Her scooter had broken down (we now affectionately refer to it as “Shit-Boxy”) so she had brought it in for repairs. We were married a year later. Fiona may actually surpass my passion for vintage scooters. At the age of 15 she started building her own scooter in her parents basement (which she still owns).”

Unfortunately due to land lords neglect, this gorgeous historic workshop that had become a home for vintage scooters would suffer a fatal blow. A heavy storm caused irreparable structural damage and the decision had to be made to evacuate the building. “It felt like we had lost everything, but through the help of my wife and my mates Mark and Marcello, my passion was not drowned. We found a new home in Alexandria where we’re at today and built the business back up.”

There’s a myriad of projects going on inside the shop, from conventional restorations to the more eclectic works, such as a Vespa car, and a Scooter with nitrous. “I had been looking for a Vespa car for 15 years, and after a coincidental discussion with a mate, he managed to find one that was up for auction in QLD. She was a right hand drive Vespa 400 that had been partially stripped. John Zimmerle was the previous owner who was passionate about scooters and micro cars, but unfortunately ill health had gotten in the way of his project. Sadly he passed away without seeing the fruition of his work for this particular model, but now I am the custodian of this unique micro-car and the responsibility has fallen on me to do her justice. With over 20 boxes of parts, luckily I have the love and support of my wife Fiona, and son Ryder, to help me painstakingly go through parts books, itemising and parts and meticulously assembling her trying to pay homage its last owner”

“As for the moment, I am building a custom watercooled race engine Vespa all themed around a Rat style 50’s racer which will be unveiled at Throttle Roll in a year’s time. I am also rebuilding a beautiful 1959 GS 150 for a customer in Western Australia, and doing a rust-eration on a 59 Douglas for a 90 year old customer that bought the scooter from new in the UK, strapped his suitcase on the back and road to Australia… all 17,000 miles until the scooter was  finally was laid to rest of its duties 30 years ago. I am sympathetically rebuilding as to not to remove the history from the scooter, but   ultimately to breathe new life in her so the owner can fulfil his final dream of having a final ride on her again.”

“I try to always up-hold the strongest of environmental efforts on the workshop, from the recycling all of all materials used, to limit waster usage, but ultimately it is the rebuilding of these old vehicles that have often been abandoned and forgotten about on peoples garages and sheds that get rebuilt and re-purposed for future generations to enjoy and love again.”

Stay tuned for that naughty nitrous scooter we mentioned previously, we intend to show off in all its glory!




Glitz – Fleur’s ’69 Vespa 150 Super

Take a trip on Glitz, a hyper-psychedelic scoot from 1969 that cuts through the gloom while leaving behind a magical colour haze.

Classic Scooters are something of a passion for Fleur, a woman who is as colourful and wonderful as this super-sparkled 1969 Vespa 150 Super that she zips across the grey concrete on. The mod gods planted the seed for scoots in her soul back in the 1980’s, as a young teenage Fleur would happen upon a photograph that her father had taken on a camping trip in the ‘50’s. This image of adventure, with luggage to last the apocalypse festooned about these little machines, sparked a passion upon Fleur. “It was then that I declared that I wanted a scooter. My parents were only too happy to oblige, and I received my first scooter for my 16th birthday. It was a 1961 Vespa VNB 125 that had seen better days, but I loved it all the same! I still have that scooter and restored it in 2009. It maxes out at about 48kph but it’s so small on its 8 inch wheels you feel like you’re flying!”

It would be after this restoration in 2009 that Fleur decided to grab herself another machine. “My ’61 Vespa VNB 125 was now is such pristine condition that I didn’t want to let it out of my sight! It was only good for riding to cafes and watching people admire it. This meant that I didn’t have a classic scooter to get about on, so picking up a more common classic such as this 150 Super filled the void. They’re probably the most common models in Australia, as Aus Post used them in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I picked the scooter up and it was completely rubbish. It had lived its life in SE Asia, and the front end had a mysterious wobble that was terrifying. We tried to eliminate the death wobble by a process of elimination that ultimately saw the entire front end being replaced. Oh, and the engine kept seizing…”

In the process to get ‘Glitz’ on the road, she was fitted with a 12v Vespatronic (as opposed to the 6v candle power of the original points system), a Pinasco 177cc performance kit and a sports exhaust. “ There was a definite performance improvement – now she does 100kph easy compared to an asthmatic 70kph flat out.”

This would be no easy task getting the every day rider up to spec. The list of issues seemed to grow, but passion and determination would not falter. The once troubled machine would now be roadworthy, but was it worthy of joining the stable of other unique classic scooters that Fleur and her partner shared? “While I decided what to do with the scooter it became my daily rider over the Sydney Harbour Brudge to work. It was so m,uch fun to ride that I couldn’t part with it; I couldn’t leave it looking like it did (an obvious SE Asia resto) but it wasn’t worth of a complete restoration to its original appearance either. So it actually became a folly, with me declaring “right, it’s going to be covered in glitter and lime green flames!”

And so what it was.

Now would be the time for the scooter to receive a mammoth dose of personality. Who better than Kyle from Smith Concepts for the task? You may remember his work from such articles as El Lujo, The Forever Bike, or just about any great paint job you’ve seen on the streets to be honest. “The timing couldn’t have been better. Just as I was looking at glitter hotrod paint jobs on the Internet, Sandy at SS Scooter Engineering showed me a helmet he’d bought off Kyle. It was funny, when we dropped the bike off as he was working on a Harley tank and guards that were only black and skulls, quite the opposite to what I wanted. So here he was handed a little old scooter with only the guidelines “no black, no skulls, happy colours, lots of glitter, lime green flames, stars, bubbles, and fun. Kyle was great to work with, and very patient with me considering my ideas were forming as he painted.”

Something magic happens when riding this scooter through the streets. Despite grim day, with rain and grey skies, there was nothing but fun and happiness surrounding this scooter. As we rode past pedestrians, dull faces were swapped with smiles and eager looks.

“There weren’t any major hiccups in getting Glitz to where it is today that I can recall – I do have a funny though. . I decided to take the scooter up the the 2012 National Classic Scooter Rally on the Gold Coast; we were still assembling it in the van on the way to the rally but we made it just in time. The show ‘n’ shine was the first day of the rally and I wasn’t planning on entering as I thought people would simply laugh at me. But as the crowd formed around the scoot at the muster point on the ride out to the venue I realised people liked what they saw, so I decided to enter.

Glitz won Best Custom Scooter and Best In Show! 

It also won the once-off Rambo Award presented by the Wild Dogs Scooter Club in recognition of my achievement of going in to SE Asia and making something beautiful happen.

Given I’d used some of my pocket money from an overseas deployment to fund the project that seemed even more appropriate!

The trophy fell apart on the way home. “

“No one single favourite thing, but a collection. My favourite part of the paint work is the front mudguard, that’s the part the helmet was painted to match. I love the sound it makes and I love that it’s unique.

But I guess the best part actually is that it makes people  smile and I get lots of waves as I ride by. That’s nice.”

Bikes Reviews

Stalking The Hunter

Close to a decade ago, our protagonist Luke would fall in love in Japan. It wouldn’t be the cheap beer in vending machines, or dubious animated shows that would catch Luke’s eye however. A low down, stretched out Honda Zoomer would be the catalyst for some new wheels hitting Australia’s streets.

These 50cc Honda scoots that had initially captured Luke’s eye were nowhere to be found back home in the Australian market. After a bit of research, importing a 2nd hand scooter from Japan or the US would set one back over $20k once the import approval and compliance regulations were finalised. There was a gap to be filled, a machine that was born for customisation in the scooter realm. Here, the seed for Hunter Scooters would be planted – although how exactly does one go about creating a brand new scooter and sell it in Australia?

The roots for these new machines would go back much further than a decade, to a younger (and much more innocent) boy pulling apart his toys. ‘Since I was a kid I always had a curiosity of how things worked. I loved to pull my toys apart to see the inner workings and what made things tick. Growing up in the 80’s I was at the point of a technological revolution. Having toys that were made from wood and metal with mechanical workings it was easy to comprehend the physics behind their construction. As the microchip and electronics became more affordable and usable in more comprehensive applications I started playing with electric motorised cars. I started pushing the limits of their working conditions, through water in the bath or through fire by pouring metho on the floor and lighting it… I thought I was a stuntman inside each of my toys.”

The natural progression for Luke as he grew of course was for these toys to grow up with him – in the form of real cars and real scooters. None were safe from his desire to pull them apart, or make them unique to his style. ‘I went past a scooter shop on Parramatta road one day and purchased my first 150cc sports scooter. This scooter although, not a well-known brand at the time, was more of a sports style – not a classic Vespa styled scooter. This Taiwanese Golden Bee was sharp on acceleration and precise in handling, sure all the fairings were plastic but it worked and it kicked with a punch. Sitting at a set of lights I would consistently beat heavier European equivalents of the line! This was the best $4k I had ever spent.’

Luke was head over heels in love with Scooters, and now he would be creating his own. The first step in bringing together Luke’s gutsy and gear-leverless dream would be finding a factory to create these machines. ‘I was after a manufacturer that could build me a machine that stood out from the pack, and that was at a more affordable price for the average punter. After contacting many factories in China and suppliers abroad I was able to find one that not only promised everything I wanted, but was able to build a sample that could be tested on the Australian roads. After many months of email conversations and frustrating calls, I found a supplier that fitted the brief.’

15 months from the original brief, the first bare boned 150cc machine scooted onto Australia shores. From here, the testing would begin for what would eventuate into a much bigger line of these scooters being produced. Once the evolution was complete, with upgrades and improvements being made where found the Dark Knight ZH150 Scooter was born and ready to rumble. “Out of the crate for $4900 + ORC this was a balls out fun scoot with a multitude of bolt on extras from the thriving Japan and US scooter scene.”

Straight out of the box, these are unique looking and fun machines. The rear tyre is truly fat (or phat, as the youths might say) which will no doubt garner a lot of attention. Contrary to any thoughts about how the rear tackles corners, it’s actually not as bad as you think. After a few lefts and rights you’ll quickly become accustomed to the big butt of this little Hunter Scooter – it’s quite manageable.

These machines are born for custom work. Although you could happily own one with no work done to do it and still ride around getting plenty of looks, Luke intends these machines to be a reflection of their owner’s style and creativity. Simply put, they’re a ton of a fun to ride. This is an economic, simple machine that suits the coastal and urban living of Australia all too well. Leaving the larger machines at home and opting to use the Hunter Scoot for zipping through streets, or slamming down to the beach means you get to wrench the throttle back, and push it to it’s limits.

Despite it not even being a complete year of the scooters being on Australian roads, their popularity has grown considerably. A simple, fun, good looking machine paired with an owner who is passionate and hands on about getting people riding his scooters means you’ll no doubt be seeing even more of them soon. These little mean street beasts have extension arms on the drivetrains, dropped suspension, cut off sports exhaust and front set foot pegs.

‘I wanted now to conceive a product that could appeal to the masses and be customised to the most unique individual. This was the birth of the ‘hunter’ – go out and seek what you want. Stalk it, hunt it, live it.’

To check out your own Hunter Scooter, CLICK HERE




Dirty Sanchez – Skrappy’s Honda Ruckus

While living in Okinawa Japan, Skrappy found himself surrounded by the thriving scooter and motorcycle scene that was abundant throughout. Combining his foreign surroundings with some inspiration from the drift scene back home in America, the bright, rude scooter known Dirty Sanchez was born.


The Japanese certainly have a talent for taking their own spin on any kind of culture and scene, with it forming the basis of inspiration for many across the globe. Having spent 10 years living in Japan, it would only be natural for this thriving moto scene to rub off on Skrappy. “The Japanese have a unique taste in what they build and modify. I was huge into the drift scene, and wanted to bring some American scooter taste to Japan as it hadn’t really taken off there. There were a few Honda Ruckus aka Zoomers around, but I wanted to go balls deep with this build. Something never before seen in Japan.”


The basis for this build, the Honda Zoomer, most widely known as the Ruckus, is a motorscooter first introduced in late 2002 for the 2003 in Japan and America. A unique release, it drifted away from traditional scooter aesthetic with its more aggressive, rugged design. It featured fatter tyres with a deeper tread, and a bare skeletal frame that lacked your usual enclosed storage compartment. Straight off the bat, these are a very attractive machine that enjoyed popularity across many riders. This stock machine would not do for Skrappy however.


Being a mechanic/welder/fabricator by trade, this would be a build that could be attacked with confidence, and costs at a minimum. “I wanted this build to be done solely by me. I did everything from the wiring harness to the paint. This wasn’t built in a shop or garage, but my apartment in Japan.  4 months is all it took. Every day after work I would go home and spend 5-6 hours piecing it together and going through all my Japanese bike magazines getting ideas.  There are always hiccups along the way, and that’s with any build. But it would be nothing that would put me off, apart from lots of sleepless nights pondering what the fuck it could have been.  I guess my proudest moment was the day she fired up. I hated wiring, and so my goal was to overcome this and be good at wiring. I built the harness from scratch, and sure enough she fired on the first go. Sure, it smoked out my apartment – but that smell the first time she fired was amazing.”


There’s a lot of love about this low, stretched out scooter. It’s a Ruckus on steroids; it’s been exaggerated to the point of excellence. It comes with other benefits as well. “Don’t get me wrong, I do love this scooter. But it’s the reactions of those who have never seen one that gets me most. The conversations I have and the people I meet because of it is great. Scooters aren’t for everyone, as people have their own tastes but it grabs your attention.  The Japanese loved it and I couldn’t ride it without being stopped and asked about it. Unfortunately, it’s not Registered in OZ yet but this year I am aiming to revamp and get the dirty bastard streetable.”


“The final product was just what I was aiming for. Probably a bit more extreme than expected, but it’s still perfect. It’s an extension of my mind. I’m in the process of starting some more builds with street bikes and another scooter

I am trying to bring out the scooter scene here and get more people to modify and customise them, and so I’m working with the help of some good mates like Luke from Hunter Scooter so hopefully you’ll see some more unique scooters hitting the streets.”



The Vespa Desert Racer

What do you do when you’ve got almost 16kms to cover between the starting line and the campsite when you’re on the salts flats? You make the meanest Vespa around, that’s what.

While out on Lake Gairdner in South Australia for a week of land speed racing on the salt flats, a workhorse was needed for PS Imports Director Paul Chiodo for traversing the deep desert sand and rocky terrain between homebase and the starting line for the Triumph Salt Racer.  While the Piaggio Typhoon 125 that was in use was fine for the lake, it battled against the harsher Australian landscape. An idea had now sparked, and a collaboration was created between Melbourne based Supacustom and Vespa Australia to create a machine that could tackle the tough terrain for those all-important beer runs (and other jobs, we’re sure).

The basis for this zippy desert racer would be a 2015 Vespa Sprint 150 I.E 3 valve, chosen for its classic look, clean lines and new 3 valve motor. “One of the challenges of this project is finding, adapting and fitting parts that will take the VDR to Desert racing stardom. As far as aftermarket scooter parts go; desert racing / off road components are not high on manufacturer’s priorities. For this reason, we have had to improvise and pick the best option that will work – often with heavy modification. As our parts started to arrive the anticipation started to build, and we soon found that each part created its own series of problems.” This would be no simple stripping of parts and bolting on of new ones as the project began to grow, and by Paul Chiodo’s own admission the build started to get “out of hand”, not that that’s a bad thing.

The crew got to work stripping the body back to a bare shell, with any and all redundant parts being cut from the body. To make sure this Vespa was good and sturdy for it’s forthcoming life of desert abuse its body was reinforced in the forward and aft, and side-to-side.


“We all agreed that getting the seat shape right was key to the look of the bike – we knew the standard seat had to go. Visually the shape and composition of the seat has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the VDR. We also planned to mount pivot pegs on the scooter which will be located significantly further back than the normal foot position. This will totally change the seating position moving the weight further aft, while also helping to un-weight the front wheel making the scooter much easier to ride in sand. These factors have all contributed to scrapping the original seat and making a new base from scratch.”

The team determined now that the best way to create a new seat would be out of fibreglass, using packing tape to mask off the areas that were to be moulded. “We then used the West Epoxy System, with some very light fibreglass twill to carefully layup 5 layers over our mould. The thin twill worked really well in capturing the detail of the seat base.” Once the initial layup was complete the base was reinforced with some heavier fibreglass cloth with the edges being refined using epoxy resin and micro balloon filler. “Once this had set we trimmed the base and began to prepare the base for pouring expanding foam to create some volume.”

To help dodge any pesky rocks and the like, the scoot was raised up 3” and was fitted with Bitubo Nitrogen fully adjustable gas shocks along with some 12” knobbies for the front and rear. “We allowed the engine to breath better with a forward facing alloy air box fabricated by Ross at Supacustom. 3 uni filter air filters ensure this is not an asthmatic Vespa!”

The end product would be a super aggressive, nimble Vespa the likes none have ever seen. A beauty to look at – but a mean bastard. Just like the Australian bush it was built for.

Photos by @jeffcrowphoto