Buying a Vespa here in Israel:
I personally think it was for the best that I came across my Vespa when I did and that I bought used. All of the details, at the time, made it clear that it was the best option for me and was the most practical. Being here in Israel, I tend to be more on the weary side when it comes to those “bigger ticket” items. Things in general here cost more than do in the States, so I tend to question my purchases more here than I have at only other time in my life. Decisions here, whether I like this aspect or not, take a bit of time and patience is a lifesaver. In the states, I have a lot more freedom and knowledge of the system to be able to do what I may, generally. In Israel, more or less, once you buy it: you’re stuck with it. (That applies to my specific situation as an American on a tourist visa. An Israeli wouldn’t have as much hassle dealing with the local bureaucracy.) Being a smart consumer here in Israel means being able to survive, so one tends to place a great deal of care in these endeavours.
Buying USED vs. New:
The big thing that made this easier for me was that it was used. I either wanted it as it was (colour and specific model) or I didn’t. Pretty simple. Buying new means you get to choose just about every [cosmetic] detail for your Vespa, while buying used means you will have to really search if you want something specific. Or just have a little luck. I was lucky. I found it on an Israeli “Crigslist” type site (http://theshuk.co.il/), and I felt it was destined to be mine. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of local bureaucracy to buy a new one. If I were to buy a new Vespa here, I would have most likely just went with a car instead since the price of a new Vespa is a decent sum of money. Buying used cut so much fuss and hassle that I knew was to be expected, so again: how lucky was I to find this particular used Vespa? Very lucky. After I found the ad, I started researching anything I could about Vespas online. Most importantly, I wanted to figure out how to know if buying used was a good way to go. I found a few articles and other listings of the same year models of the one I was looking at, so that I was able to compare the mileage and usage expectations. I wanted to make sure a 2008 LV150 with only 6000 km was a good buy. I wanted to know what it meant. So I researched it and saw that everything that the ad mentioned was true. This was a good starting point.
Why the LX 150 and not another model?
Luckily the LX150 was exactly the model I both needed and wanted. After all of my searching online, I was now more familiar with the different models and their different uses. The LX150 was made for the city, but had enough strength to keep up out on the highway. I knew that I would get bored with the same city streets sooner rather than later, so the smaller LX 50 engine wouldn’t meet my needs as a driver for very long. You can go higher speeds while still getting great gas consumption from the LX150, which was what I desired. Since I have had it, I have only grown more fond of it. I had worries about driving it, but those soon melted away as I became easily comfortable riding it. I have been able to drive wherever I please so far and have been surprised at its reliability and durability. The look still gets to me when I see it. The red just screams sass to me. It would be an Aries, if it had a sign. Of course if I were in the states and buying a new one there, I think I might be interested in a more highway friendly (ability to go faster) model, but being that most of my driving will be in the cities here in Israel, this LX150 is all I need.
Know your seller!!
A big part of the sale for me was knowing that I could trust the person who was selling the Vespa. Buying used off the Internet can open up a can of worms if you aren’t careful and know what you are doing. Since it was something that cost more and the quality depended greatly on how the previous owner treated it, I wanted to be sure that he seemed like a honest person who treated his belongings with care and love. I was able to corresponded with him several times over the days between finding his ad and when I bought it. This communication was important for me because I was able to gain a sense of how he treated the scooter under his ownership throughout our correspondence. I learned that he was a car blogger and had the sense enough to treat his Vespa with the same respect as he did his writing. Plus, he called it his “baby”. I know that there are great actors in this world, but sometimes you just know when someone is being genuine and honest. I could tell that he have loved owning the Vespa and was ashamed to let it go. (He was only selling it because he was moving back across the pond for better work opportunities.) You can see that I learned a lot about this guy during our short time of knowing one another and that is the point I want to stress: if you buy used, make sure to do your homework on both the specific scooter and the seller. Google searches can come in great use for this exact point. I would rather end up knowing that I bought a good, working Vespa than to realize, within the week, that I was taken for a decent amount of money that I won’t be able to see again.
For an example, I have included the first message I received from the seller:
*Thanks for getting in touch, Kaie. The Vespa is still up for sale. I'm an automotive photojournalist, and I can tell you first of all that I've kept the Vespa in great condition, and secondly, that the photo I sent you is original. I shot it in Tel Aviv, and have enclosed another shot for your consideration. I couldn't tell you how many miles I get to a tank, specifically, but I can tell you that I rarely have to fill it up. But then I don't ride it all that much, just here and there. Since 2008 I've put less than 6000 km on it. I'd be glad to answer any other questions you may have, and if you'd like to stop by and check it out in person, I'd be glad to accommodate. Truly, (Redacted.)*
To note: It is a good thing the more willing they are to answer any questions you have with good, detailed responses. If they really want to sale and want to sell it to someone who will treat it as they have, they will take the time to cover any concerns or fears you, the buyer, has. Be weary of people who don’t have time to do in to detail about their scooter online and, more so, when you meet in person.
The Meet and Greet:
Another important time for you is when you first view the scooter and seller. A lot of what applied in the bit above applies here too. Is the seller still helpful and willing to answer your questions? Do they seem to respond honestly and with detail when answering your questions? Do they offer to take you for a ride? (If they don’t let you teat drive it that is okay since they most likely don’t have insurance to cover other drivers. Just make sure to have them drive it with you as a passenger so you can hear it while it is running and notice anything that doesn’t sound right.) Ask about the history of the scooter before you decide to buy it. A reputable seller will be happy to give you the background of the scooter, or at least the recent past years. Ask the seller to disclose any repairs, accidents, or modifications made to the scooter before committing to buying it. Make sure to talk over anything you want to discuss, as this might be the only time you have before you end up buying it at the end of the little “selling date”. Of course do not be rushed into anything that you do not feel completely okay with or good about. I was able to meet up with the seller three times, mostly due to Israel bureaucracy, but this allowed me time to really figure out everything I needed to know from the seller. You most likely will not have as much time or need that many viewings, so make sure to use your time wisely. I brought my partner with me because I like to have an outside opinion who isn’t as emotionally invested in the sale. I trust him and asked him, throughout the meeting, his thoughts about what the seller was saying. It would be wise to bring along someone you trust with you to help you stay more objective and focused. If you can arrange it try and see if you can go have a coffee for a wee bit of time, to discuss what you have learned in the past hour with your mate before making the final decision. The seller should know you are serious by this point and allow you time to consider if you need it.
So…. what now?
So, by this point, if you feel that everything makes sense and sounds good, by all means, GO FOR IT! If you follow this advise, you will be happy you did. Buying my Vespa has been one of the smartest decisions I have made in a while and I have no regrets!
I know that was a bit long winded, but that is how I roll. I hope I offered you potential Vespa owners some good information if you were looking to buy used.
Thanks for reading!