The little trailer that could



In 2000 there was one particularly interesting item to surface when Mauricio Bianchini sold his business and all of the inventory of his scooter shop, Mario’s Italian Motors. This was his custom-made service trailer. It was a little trailer that he used for picking up and delivering customer’s scooters. Since the mid-1980s, with the departure of the Vespa of America Corporation from the United States, Mario’s Italian Motors survived on its own as a bare-boned one-man operation. Often all by himself, Mauricio needed a method for loading scooters either solo or with the balancing hand of a customer. This trailer was his creation and it demonstrates his resourcefulness and depth of Vespa knowledge.

The glorious aspect of this little trailer lies in his reuse of old 1960s-era Vespa steering columns . As I have discussed before (American Scooterist #46), the front fork/steering column may have been specifically designed to be a sacrificial weak link in the event of a front-on collision. The column absorbs most of the shock and bends before the monocoque body crumples thus potentially saving the scooter for repair and reuse. It's not uncommon for scooter shops to end up with bent steering columns in their salvaged parts supplies. (Note: on most scooters and motorcycles the proper term would be “forks.” Since a Vespa uses a unique hub-and-axle system to simplify tire repair, there are no “forks” holding on the wheel. “Steering column” therefore becomes a more accurate term for one of the signature features of a Vespa scooter.)

Mauricio certainly had his own stock of mostly-useless front columns. He took two eight-inch ones, cut them down and welded them to a cross brace which attached to very rudimentary single gutter-like track. The track is specially constructed to fit the wheel base of a Vespa. The front tire bumps into a stop--not too low to bend the front fender--and there is a drop in the back of the track which helps act as a wheel chock for the rear tire.

The trailer has no suspension, this had to be sacrificed in order to keep the trailer low to the ground for easy loading of scooters. With under-inflated tires and slower driving this is not typically a problem as long as the scooter hauling is limited to around town. A small cross section is welded to the front of the trailer for attaching tie-down straps.

How can you not love the elegance of a scooter-specific trailer that uses Vespa tires? These days maybe 10-inch tires might be a bit more practical due to them being more common. Still, if you ever needed a spare you could easily grab another from the shop or even borrow your customer's off their scooter! Or the other obvious option would be to take advantage of the vintage Vespa's key practicality feature: Unbolt the tire, split the rim and patch the tube. Off you go again.

For Spring Scooter 2009, Juaning Higgins borrowed the trailer from the current owner, Robert Pennington. Juaning hooked it to his dad’s Honda Goldwing. Many people appreciated that the breakdown support vehicle was also a two wheeler.

It's hard not to be smitten with all of the Vespa-specific thought that went into the trailer's creation. Maybe it's not so cute, but certainly tiny and eternally practical.