I've talked about this before on this blog, it's a big part of my life as I get so many emails from people needing help with parts for their scooters. They've spent upwards of $4000 by the time they get it here from god knows where in Asia and don't really want to spend much more but need to get it running. It's Catch 22 alright! "Do I suck it up and live with the fact that I just spent $4000 on a shiny useless paperweight with wheels or, do I spend more hard earned cash on replacement parts and try and get it registered?
But what burns me is, if you stop for a minute and think about the big picture here, it's heartbreaking and extremely scary. Think about all of the consequences of 'restoring' a classic scooter in Asia.
Old Vespas, many of which have been ridden around Asia for the last 40 years have all of a sudden become hip and trendy in the western world. We see them, we fall in love with them and for whatever other reason, we go in search of our dream. Maybe its for the cheaper fuel, to relive the Mod days or, damn it... just for fun! :)
The Asian chop shop owners see their prey and pounce. They're pulling the classics off the road to flog to us at an alarming rate. They rip all the genuine parts off to 'modernise' them and after covering them in shiny badly chromed after market parts, they flip them to unsuspecting westerners online who've fallen in love with 8 or so pictures of a shiny piece of poo they'll never be able to get registered.
So have you ever wondered what happens to the original parts? If not binned or able to be restored they are sold on. I know a dealer in India who buys entire vintage engines for scrap, or he'll send 100 of the 'better' engines to Thailand to be patched and bodged for the next Ebay sale. A tragic ending for a classic old scooter.
When the scooters are stripped in Asia, they are also often welded and bogged up to cover 40 years of dents and dings, sometimes even to disguise them as a rarer model.
Get a load of these pieces of faked poo
This first one from a dealer in Melbourne, a car dealer trying to make more cash it seems! the other pic from scooterbbs.
People with no idea are sucked in every day to the tune of thousands of dollars. As you'd expect, life in Asia can be rough for an old scooter. You can also imagine some of the patch up welds and bog that are found on Asian 'restored' scooters. I will always use that term very very loosely, I prefer to call it "restored to death". Some of these old scooters are bastardised so much during the process they can never be registered for road use in the countries they are destined for. Buyers of these scooters from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ to name a few, find it extremely difficult to get them on the road as the registration specifications for road use in some of these countries are quite stringent. This is of no concern to Mr. Hu Flung Dung of course, the Asian scooter chop shop owner with the big smile on this face. They get paid and are laughing all the way to the bank. They might be lucky enough to repeat the whole process a few times before having to pack up and move shop when things get a bit heated. How hard would it be to find a particular dealer in Ho Chi Minh City when you've been sucked in and bought a dodgey scooter from the other side of the world. I often wonder how many times this scenario has played out all over the world? It's probably not that appropriate but I become more angry at the loss of the old scooters than I do feeling sorry for the people who lost money.
There has to be hundreds, if not thousands of old scooters lying in sheds all over the planet, unable to be ridden or registered, they are gone forever, restored to death.