And Now For Something Completely Different: Scooters! 1987 Honda Elite 150 vs 2008 Vespa LX 150

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Happy Friday! Today, on our end-of-the-week special, we’re actually staying within the price cap, but cutting the total number of wheels in half, and looking at a pair of scooters. But before we get there, we need to finish up with our little red trucks from yesterday:

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Yep, that’s what I expected. And yeah, I wanted that Dodge, too, even though I already have a perfectly good truck.

All right, it’s time for me to step waaaay outside my comfort zone. I am not a motorcycle guy by any means, but I’ve always thought scooters were cool. Granted, the only things I know about them I leanred from Roman Holiday and Third Eye Blind videos, so don’t expect any deep insightful commentary; I’m still learning. But we can learn together, and then our resident two-wheels enthusiast Mercedes Streeter can tell me everything I got wrong or left out. Sound like fun? Here we go.


1987 Honda Elite 150 – $2,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 152cc water-cooled OHC 1-cylinder, CVT

Location: San Francisco, CA

Odometer reading: 6,700 miles

Runs/drives? Yep!

Honda knows a thing or two about two-wheeled vehicles. They got their start with motorized bicycles just after World War II, and haven’t stopped making bikes since. From tiny 49cc scooters all the way up to the six-cylinder Gold Wing, Honda motorcycles are as renowned for reliability as their cars are.

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The Elite scooter first came out in 1984, in 80cc and 125cc sizes. The original Elite is the only cycle I can think of with a pop-up headlight, and there’s no reason for it to be there other than to look cool. This restyled 1987 Elite lost the pop-up light, but gained an extra 25cc of displacement. Its tiny engine is water-cooled, which sounds overly complicated for a scooter, but it’s Honda, so of course it works perfectly.

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This Elite has covered only 6,700 miles since the ’80s, and is reported to be in excellent condition. It’s located in San Francisco, which apart from the hills, sounds like good territory for a scooter; there’s no point in having this thing in farm country, but in the city it makes perfect sense.

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It’s not as cool as the earlier Elite, but this looks like a good user-friendly way to get into a classic scooter for not much money.


2008 Piaggio Vespa LX 150 – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 151cc air-cooled OHC 1-cylinder, CVT

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Odometer reading: 9,100 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does!

Vespa, of course, is the first thing most people think of when you mention motor scooters. Italian for “wasp,” Vespas got their name from the buzzy, whiny two-stroke engines that manufacturer Piaggio first employed. The original Vespa put the entire country of Italy on wheels after World War II, and scenes of throngs of Vespas buzzing along cobblestone streets became instantly iconic, proving that Italians can make anything cool.

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This Vespa LX, from 2008, is no longer a two-stroke, instead employing an overhead-cam four-stroke single, powering the rear wheel through a continuously-variable transmission with an automatic centrifugal clutch. It has both an electric and a kick starter, and electronic fuel injection.

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Most importantly, it retains the Vespa’s best attribute: that effortless cool. Look at this thing! If it doesn’t make you want to hop on, pull Audrey Hepburn on behind you, and go buzz around a fountain, see your doctor immediately; there’s something very wrong with you.

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This Vespa has traveled 9,114 miles and is said to run well, with only a little wear and tear. From the photos it looks great, and I love the yellow paint/tan seat combo. I’m not a scooter guy, but this thing might be able to convert me.

There you have it: your choices for this Friday. Feel free to school me some more on these things in the comments; as I said, I don’t know much about them. And don’t forget to vote. Have a good weekend, everyone!


(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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58 Responses

  1. I clicked on this article expecting the Honda to have a pop-up headlight, and was surprised to find they had discontinued it after only three years.

    And sure, Vespas are inherently cool, but the Honda scooter commercials had frickin’ Miles Davis and Lou Reed as spokesmen! Come on! It’s the Honda for me.

  2. I thought I commented but can’t find it, I know the Honda is objectively better, but if you really want objectively better at this price point, buy a motorcycle.

    The Vespa has better scooter vibe, so Vespa it is for me. To all who are saying these are much too expensive, the only cheap scooters I see anymore are Chinese clones, a Vespa or Honda is going to cost more than a few hundred bucks.

  3. My daughter recently turned 14 and has been begging specifically for a Vespa. I told her I’d match whatever she has saved up when she finds one she wants (and can afford). I have no idea what these go for, but if she had $1250 and thought this was the one she wanted, I’d happily pony up the rest.

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