Archive for the ‘Sqooter History’ Category

By Sqooterhead Steve

This is my 1984 Vespa PK 125S Automatica. It’s a rare Vespa model never imported by Piaggio into the United States but sold only in Europe. It is notable for being the first Vespa scooter ever to have an automatic transmission. Since I do not know how to drive a manual-shift Vespa very well, and yet I wanted an older classic Vespa, I researched and discovered that this model existed. Fellow Sqooterhead Tony alerted me to a Craigslist post back in January for a guy in San Diego selling this scooter. Soon after I was the proud owner. After some fixing up and a thorough carb cleaning, yesterday I rode the scooter for the very first time. It was a blast.

I wanted to know the story behind this unique Vespa, so I posted pictures of it on a few scooter bulletin boards online. Someone recognized it as being brought over to the U.S. in the late 80’s by a Gabriel Sanchez, former owner of Monarch Scooters in Pasadena.

A quick Google search revealed that Gabriel is currently serving out a long sentence related to charity fraud charges in the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary. When he began his sentence over 10 years ago, his wife had just given birth to their first child, a daughter. His release date is set for the end of 2016.

I never knew Gabriel personally so I won’t pass judgement on his sentence, but I did manage to contact him through the federal prisoner mail system. I sent him a letter, with pictures, explaining I had purchased a scooter he used to own and my desire to know more about its history. A couple weeks later, back in February, he sent me one of the most amazing letters I have ever received … about not just the unique Vespa I now owned, but also about the love of scootering in general. I asked if I could share his letter here, and he said sure.

Here is Gabriel’s letter to me:

I continue to communicate with Gabriel, now via email, and share with him updates as I get the Vespa looking nicer and nicer. I am also trying to talk my fellow Sqooterheads into making a special scooter ride this summer up to Lompoc to visit a certain Federal inmate currently staying there. By the way, I’ve named my Vespa PK ‘Ramone’. If you read the above letter carefully, you’ll see why.

James Dean and his Lambretta

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Sqooter History

James Dean and director Elai Kazan on Dean's Lambretta scooter, on the set of East of Eden.

Sqooterhead Steve S. recently learned that the legendary James Dean owned and rode a Lambretta scooter and hung out with scooterists! Sqooterhead Tony asked to see proof of this, so here is a picture. It appeared in a special edition of American Scooterist published by the Vespa Club of America.