Scooters Go Over Big at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2017
By Somer Hooker
Vintage scooters were the featured class at the 2017 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Scooters were a featured class at The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance held March 11, 2017. Although scooters are often considered to be on the bottom rung of the motorcycle ladder, many riders started out with these smaller bikes and worked their way up.
Scooters are more of a postwar phenomenon. As industrialized nations recovered from World War II, inexpensive transportation was needed. In Europe, fuel and money were scarce. Manufacturers like Vespa sought to fill both a utilitarian and a transportation niche. A good example seen at the Amelia Concours was Leo Schiegel’s 1952 Vespa 125 with an articulated trailer. It was laden with two large containers for transporting liquids. In Italy, scooters didn’t get excused from work because they were “cute”!
Billy Paul’s fabulous 1952 Maico Mobil took Best of Class honors.
In the U.S., scooters were also marketed as a utilitarian means of transportation. Salsbury was a manufacturer located in Nebraska. Their scooters were truly unique, with an automatic drive and Art Deco styling. John Wiser brought his original paint Salsbury to Amelia. This was the vehicle he used for his wedding 40 years ago!
Harley-Davidson tried to fill a scooter void with their Topper model. Brochures described how they were a good starter level for motorcycling. The brochure also featured a businessman making his rounds on a scooter, dressed in a suit with a pipe clinched in his teeth. There were three Toppers on display this year. Cushman is almost synonymous with scooter, and another American great, Jim Dillard Jr., had a late model OHV version on display at Amelia.
Leo Schiegel’s load-carrying 1952 Vespa 125.
German dealers tried to market scooters as a substitute for the car. The Maico Mobil was probably one of the most unusual scooters built. Fully faired and aerodynamic, it was almost a two-wheeled car and had aluminum body work. Other streamlined scooters on display were a Heinkel, a TWN Triumph Tessy, also from Germany, and a Silver Pigeon from Japan. Billy Paul’s Maico was the pick for Best of Class.
Patty Schwarze’s rare TWN Triumph Tessy won the Amelia “Wind in Your Face” award. Jim Dillard’s Cushman is in the background.
This year’s show had to dramatically turn on a dime. Typically, Saturday is a Cars and Coffee day, and Sunday is the big show. Due to impending inclement weather, the whole show was moved to Saturday. There were two simultaneous events and three auctions going at once! The Amelia staff did a remarkable job of switching tracks. Mark your calendars for next year’s Amelia Island Concours, March 9-11, 2018, always a winner.
This Harley-Davidson Topper from the Leishman collection took second.
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