The motorcycle collecting hobby has been hot for a number of years and has been starting to really keep pace with the car hobby.
The motorcycle collecting hobby has been hot for a number of years and has been starting to really keep pace with the car hobby. Howeer, one part of the motorcycle scene that has been largely ignored is that of motorscooters and mopeds.
The scooter, mostly in the form of the Vespa and Lambretta, was Italy’s Volkswagen of sorts. These were vehicles built after the end of WWII that gave mobility to Italy and the rest of Europe. They were affordable, practical and easy to own and park in Europe’s congested urban areas.
It is in such an environment that motorbikes, scooters and mopeds really shine compared to ‘traditional’ motorcycles and it is just such vehicles that will be featured in a new exhibit, “Motorbikes for the Masses,” at the AACA Museum i Hershey, Pennsylvania.
After the war, owners of factories and businesses in Italy and Germany that had made aircraft and munitions saw motorbikes and their ilk as a way to utilize their expertise.
While not a new invention (the 1915 Motoped from Long Island is considered to be the first production scooter), smaller motorbikes and scooters gained immense popularity in post-war Europe and in Asia as well. The ravages of war had left many factories in ruins, and transportation requirements for the populace were in dire need.
Former aircraft factories, now forbidden to build planes, turned to these two-wheeled, small-framed machines. They were easy to manufacture compared to automobiles or other larger forms of transportation, provided much-needed jobs and immediate freedom to travel for the public.
While the most iconic machines came from Germany, Italy and Japan, motorbikes have been produced and sold throughout the world. Here in America, major suppliers including Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Wards and even Harley-Davidson offered imported examples under its brand name. While not as successful in sales numbers compared to Europe and Asia, these little entry-level ‘cycles have achieved a cult-level status amongst their admirers.
“Motorbikes for the Masses” captures that appeal and its forgotten but historical styles and designs within its exhibit.
According to guest curator Rob Kain, the plan for the exhibit, “started out as a idea to have a small exhibit of mopeds. From there we decided to be broader and inclusive than just mopeds and decided to include all kinds of affordable transportation with everything from mopeds and scooters to small motorcycles.
“We wanted to recognize all the affordable two-wheeled means of transportation and celebrate their uniqueness and fun factor mainly due to the overwhelmingly positive response we had received when we have shown them in the past. We also wanted something that might help collectors of these machines to better connect with other collectors and increase the awareness of small displacement two wheeled transportation as collectibles.”
Some of the bikes on display include:
- 1948 Whizzer Pacemaker
- 1955 Rixe moped
- 1956 Cushman model 62 scooter
- 1959 Zundapp Bella R154 scooter
- 1960 IWL Berlin SR59 scooter
- 1960 Peugeot model BB104 moped
- 1962 Aermacci M-50 Harley Davidson
- 1962 Motokov Cezeta 502 scooter & trailer
- 1964 Heinkel Tourist scooter
- 1969 Lambretta Cometa
- 1970 Honda Trail 70 minibike
- 1977 Vespa Rally 200
The “Motorbikes for the Masses” show runs from March 12 through October 11. such a long a run should maximize the opportunity for the most people possible to see these amazing and fun machines, and may inspire some of them to join in on this next wave of motoring collecting.
See the exhibition website for more details.