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Vintage Vespas – The Perfect Souvenir?

Before relocating to Pakistan in 2015, I already knew what I wanted once I got here—a vintage Vespa scooter. Soon after arriving in Islamabad, my spouse and I headed to Vintage Vespa in the I-10 Auto Market to pick out the perfect ride, which for me was a 1975 Vespa Sprint Veloce. The experience exceeded expectations, giving me a great vehicle to ride around town and the perfect souvenir to bring home from Pakistan.

Vespa scooters, manufactured by Italian company Piaggio, were once a vehicle of choice for many in Pakistan. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Vespas for the Pakistan market were shipped from Italy in parts and assembled in the country. Pakistan increased Vespa manufacturing throughout the seventies, and began fully manufacturing the “new body line” introduced in 1979. But Vespa popularity in Pakistan declined sharply when more affordable motorcycles began arriving from China. Provided with a cheaper transportation alternative, many Pakistanis abandoned their scooters and thousands of Vespas ended up in scrapyards.

Islamabad’s Vintage Vespa began in 2006 when shop owner Mohammed Rais and a Belgian partner recognized an international market for refurbished classic Vespas. Knowing Pakistan was full of abandoned Vespas from an iconic period, they seized the opportunity. They began buying old scooters and assembled a skilled team to help bring the old two-wheelers back to life, ensuring they met strict international standards. Vintage Vespa’s scooters became popular, and the business exported hundreds of Vespas to happy clients in numerous countries.

Unfortunately, the hurdles related to exporting the vehicles from Pakistan increased along with their business. On one occasion, an entire shipment of carefully restored scooters was totally disassembled at the port in Karachi under the pretext of a routine drug search. With the uncertainty and risk to the scooters becoming too great, Vintage Vespa ceased its lucrative export business. Today, their primary clientele is the expat and diplomatic community in Pakistan who take the scooters home with them when they leave.

Vintage Vespa specializes in the earlier Vespa models, originally made in Italy and assembled in Pakistan. Many clients choose the iconic 1960s VVB models, while some prefer the slightly taller 1970s Sprint Veloce models. Rais and his team will identify a scooter based on your preferences, and from start to finish you can have your own completely refurbished vintage Vespa in just 40 days, for a standard price of $1,500 USD.

Sure, you can buy an old Vespa scooter for less off the local market, but this is a case where you get what you pay for. When you understand the amount of work done by Vintage Vespa to properly refurbish an old scooter, and the high standards they maintain, you realize the price is a steal. Rais says, “From beginning to end, we focus on making a good scooter.” This begins with only buying scooters that come with all the proper papers, providing clients with the full history and ownership of their vehicle to facilitate export.

The Vintage Vespa team is truly passionate about their work. Head mechanic Zafar and another team member previously worked at a Vespa factory in Pakistan, and the shop’s machinist only works for Vintage Vespa and only works on Vespa scooters. Together, the team provides a high level of experience and expertise with the vehicle you are buying. Rais manages the team and works directly with clients, and you can’t help but be charmed by his enthusiasm about their work. He says, “I love it. It makes me feel very happy and I always make very good friends. We are showing the beautiful face of Pakistan.”

Rais explains that for every Vespa they work on, the body and the engine crank are original and the rest of the vehicle is refurbished using only new, genuine Vespa parts. A scooter sold for a few hundred dollars on OXL may have been rebuilt using dubious or even incompatible parts, but Rais assures us, “We do not put any old thing on them.”

For every old scooter Vintage Vespa finds, rust is the biggest challenge. For example, in almost every case the floorboard is completely rusted and must be replaced. Another seller may simply paint over problem, but Rais’ team creates a new steel floorboard even stronger than the original. They carefully inspect each scooter and remove any rust, replacing any irreparable sections with strong, new material. All parts are then treated with an OxiClean solution to prevent rust from returning, and a special steel patina is applied to fully protect and rust-proof the vehicle for the rest of its life. Rais stresses that no other sellers would take these essential but costly steps.

Each scooter is painted using official ICI Dulux paint, and you can choose your favourite official Piaggio colour for a truly classic Vespa look, or select one of many other colours and finishes available. You can also get creative and request a unique, custom paint job, as the Vintage Vespa painter is skilled at replicating designs from photos or drawings. This bespoke service is offered at no extra charge. You can even go all out and have an amazing truck art (jingled) scooter! Rais will hire a professional truck art painter to do the job for an added $500 USD.

Once you have your Vespa, don’t wait until you return home to enjoy it! More and more people are riding scooters around Islamabad, claiming their place in the sea of motorcycles. If you really want to feel like part of the city, driving on two wheels is the way to go. The Vespas’ handy storage units and optional front baskets also make them useful for light shopping trips. If you have any issues, the Vintage Vespa team is available to help, even coming to your residence to do repairs or take the scooter back to the shop for maintenance.

When you leave Pakistan, just make sure you’re aware of any requirements or restrictions related to importing a scooter into your country. In most cases it’s an easy process, and in the past few years people have brought Vintage Vespa scooters back with them to the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom, among others. Rais and his team can also help prepare your scooter for shipment and arrange for proper crating to keep it safe while in transit.

Driving my Vespa down the streets of Islamabad, I’m used to getting interested looks because it’s still unusual to see a woman driving a two-wheeler. One day, I stop at a street light and catch a man on a motorcycle staring at me out of the corner of my eye. I turn to look at him and he gives me a big grin and the thumbs-up sign. I laugh and return the gesture before zooming away. I can’t wait to see people’s reactions back home in Canada when they ask where I got my fabulous vintage Vespa and I say, “Pakistan, of course!”


Get in touch

Where to find Vintage Vespa:


I-10, Auto Market,
Plot 27, Street 1 – 4,
Islamabad, Pakistan


+92 (0) 345 856 2221