VESPA 946

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Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
Photographs courtesy of: VESPA USA

Redbull may give you wings, but, in the absence of being able to fly, a Vespa may just be your best bet.

In New York City this means you will duel daily with kamikaze taxi drivers piloting yellow missiles.  You will probably have an altercation, or three, with the local tyranny known as traffic wardens.  And you may occasionally get moist if it rains.

But all of this will be worth it.

As you will be smiling internally from ear to ear in a way that would put Lewis Carol’s Cheshire Cat to shame.

Bang for your buck, or frankly regardless of budget, there really is no way to get around in a more efficient way.  Both in terms of cost (I averaged $7 per week in gas) or time (if you ride like a European, there really is no traffic).

You may suggest that these things are great for short runs, but rubbish at taking a trip up the freeway.  And you would probably be right.  Although I did once take a 150cc one from Miami to Ft Lauderdale in a pinch.  And then there is the glorious 300 Super Sport I had a while back.  At 90 miles an hour that shit eating grin is soon wiped off many a smug non-believer’s face.  Especially as you and your girlfriend out drag his car all the way to cruising speed.

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This time around I was on the most beautifully marketed of the bunch, the 946.  After all, what red blooded male could say no to taking this thing for a spin after seeing the iconic photo Piaggio launched it with in New York last year.The 946 is primarily a style statement.  A nod to the sprezzatura of the original 1960s longtail Vespas of La Dolce Vita fame.  She’s a beauty for sure.  And certainly drew a few comments, and plenty of looks.At nearly $10,000 the pricetag is not to be sniffed at.  But then style often comes at a price.  Especially when it is a limited edition piece of style.Initially I was a little perturbed that I could not leave the aforementioned kamikaze pilots choking on my dust with ease from the traffic lights.  But ultimately this did not detract from the fun and in some ways made it a little more interesting.  Whereas the 300 Super Sport would literally blow away all comers, the 150cc engine in the 946 took a little more time to shimmy away from a standing start.  That said, she’s no slouch.  Allegedly reaching a top speed of around 60mph through the Park Avenue tunnel in Manhattan she certainly has a strong enough head of steam for anything you may care to think up within the city limits.And once you have one of these things, believe me, you’ll be dreaming up all kinds of reasons to pop out for a pint of milk.

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Words by DUNCAN QUINN