1979 Vespa P125X – The Rebirth

I started planning the cosmetic side of this project before it was even my project. After the first email to buy it the gears in my head started to turn. In the Craigslist pictures it looked to be gray rather than the minty blue it really was. The scooter had been repainted in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s according to receipts found in the box of parts that was included with it. While there is very little of the original dark blue paint to be found, the final preparation work seems to have been skipped or done poorly. The paint was a bit orange-pealed and started to flake off in places. Simply put, this scooter didn’t have good paint as it sat. I don’t like ruining a good original paint job to do something silly. With a bad repaint, this made an ideal candidate for a new paint job.

One thought was a World War 2 era German Luffwaffe desert camouflage pattern. I quickly dismissed this idea for a few reasons. The first was how hard it would be to do with spray cans. The second, and probably the more important, is that as much as I like military style paint jobs, they are a bit played out at this point. That left me with my second plan, that was really my gut idea the whole time.

Terrible 1990’s Disruptive Urban Camouflage
When I originally entered the vintage scooter scene in 2005 I remember lots of silly paint jobs. These days most of what I see on the road are either original paint survivors, restored and repainted examples, or rattle-canned black beaters. I am sure some of this is due to the fact in the early 2000’s metal body Vespa’s were still cheap and plentiful. I decided I was going to do something silly, fun, and memorable.

The minty blue base made a good base for this plan, it’s poor and flaking in places condition only added to the effect. With a minty blue base for the bad 1990’s disruptive, disco colored, urban camouflage I went forward. I chose black, orange, and yellow to be the accent colors. The pattern was based on the US Woodland pattern, and scaled to fit the machine. The scale is what messes up many camouflage paint jobs, using clothes pattern scale on a truck doesn’t work. The same principles need to be applied at the right scale for what is be camouflaged. The funny part is even with the loud colors, the camouflage works, it breaks up the patten of the Vespa P125X.

Before I started with paint I did some bodywork. This scooter had been crashed, and had all of the dents to prove it. In the pictures from the last post you can see them on the leg-shield and cowls. I used a dead blow hammer to bash these out. The cowls popped back out easily, the clutch side leg-shield also righted itself without much fuss. The throttle side dent was bigger, and I got it closer to correct, but evidence of a crash still remains though muted a bit. I could have spent more time making it perfect, but close was good enough it this case.

I planned the painting out on paper first, this was a rough plan. I wanted the paint to transfer between body panels, to both add to the effectiveness of the camouflage as well as make it look correct. I think I succeeded, this is almost a factory Vespa Disco Camo machine. When it came to the actual painting I used 3” masking tape to lay out the general pattern. Then I went back with an Exacto knife to put the curvy lines and shape of the accent colors. I then would scuff the paint with 600 grit sandpaper, and clean it off. This is quick and dirty spray-can painting, though with the patterns I did spend the better part of 20 hours on it. I did use the good Krylon paint with primer. Normally I am a strip to bare metal, prime, then paint type of guy. This project gave me the freedom to go fast and loose.

Complete with badges, floorboards, and glovebox.

Once the paint was laid it was time to do the finish work. I reinstalled the formally missing floorboards, badges, and glovebox. The original glovebox door was missing, so I used the one from my parts P200E (the engine now lives in my Sprint Veloce). Complete badging really ties it together for me. “Vespa” and “P125X” badges over crazy paint makes this whole thing look very legit in my mind.
It took a few weeks to get new Metzeler ME1 tires into my hands, the rims they were mounted on were painted the same “Mandarin Orange” that was used on the frame.  It was the last piece and really finished tying the project together.

While I am generally against naming vehicles, this scooter has shouldered the name “Urban Assault Scooter.” Much in the same way my KTM 950 Adventure became “RAT” or “RACEBIKE” the name simply fell upon it. I have no doubt it will carry that burden well.

In Closing
I love this scooter as a beater run-about. I am sure I will dump more money into it to make it better as time goes on, but for now it is what it should be. A 1979 Vespa P125X is akin to a Toyota Camry, it is nothing special. It was manufactured to be cheap, reliable transportation for the masses. If you own one, have fun with it, make it your own.  Good luck out there, have fun, and Godspeed.

-Eric Archambault