The Piaggio company has manufactured their Vespa scooter since the late 1940s. Taking a page out of the Cushman scooter playbook, they essentially copied their design from a U.S. military imported Cushman, which were plentiful in Italy. Brought in to transport the military easily through the tiny streets and the rough countryside roads of Italy, Piaggio knew then that their scooter would be a perfect mode of transportation. Piaggio was an aircraft company prior to the war, and due to the Allied war pacts made with Italy, they had to find another way to utilize their factory. With bombed out roads and streets, the scooter was the perfect solution. The company has since parlayed itself into the fourth largest manufacturer of scooters in the world. The Granturismo has been around for several years prior to this incarnation, with its exterior design staying the same for the most part.
Weighing in at 300 pounds dry, with a length of 76 inches and a width of almost 30 inches, this scooter is the perfect choice for all occasions. It easily reaches speeds of 65 mph and gets a respectable 65 miles per gallon, combined. As with most scooters, it gets better mileage at lower speeds.
The 21-horsepower, four-stroke SOHC, carbureted engine runs on premium fuel. The rear suspension is twin-sided swing-arm, with an adjustable preload shock and rebound dampening for a nicer ride than you might expect from a scooter. No anti-lock brakes are found on this scooter, but it does have great stopping power, with front and rear disc brakes. Finish this off with Vespa's traditional style and a pair of 12-inch aluminum wheels, and you have a great scooter.
The 2005 Granturismo's instrumentation includes a digital clock, fuel gauge, warning light, and temperature gauge. Unlike most Vespas, the Granturismo is liquid-cooled, so you'll occasionally have to check that liquid. The 31-inch high seat is a two-up, single vinyl type, but there are plenty of options available from Vespa, including a beautiful Schedoni suede set-up. You can pair those with a top box, in luxurious leather or in a color that matches the rest of the scooter. While large enough for your open-faced helmet, the under-seat storage is still a bit small, so the top box is a recommended expense. There is a decent-sized dash storage box, a rear rack, and a shopping hook below the dash, so there should always be enough room for your books or shopping trips. The driver has the usual flat floorboard footing, while the passenger has nicely integrated pop-out footrests.
This is a great alternative for the combined, campus-to-apartment-to-shopping transportation. While it reaches expressway speeds with ease, keep in mind it is still scooter-sized, and drivers should be cautious when sharing the road with 18-wheelers. Keep it around town, or enjoy the country roads on the way into town.