Riding in style

I never would have thought a motorcycle nut like my friend Gary, who has ridden, raced, and owned every conceivable growling machine on two wheels for the past half century, would fall for a rather pedestrian (albeit elegantly designed) scooter from the 1960s. But on a recent tour of Vietnam with several like-minded gearheads – a long-deferred first tour for most – the graceful lines and staccato putt-putt of these beautifully restored Italian Vespas called out to them like a siren’s song. The deal with David Duong, the proprietor, was sealed with a sporty test drive through the back streets of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the teenage Duong, like thousands of other refugees, fled Vietnam in a small boat. Resettled in New Jersey, he worked in the casino and hospitality industry for 30 years before returning home in 2005 to start his now thriving trade in restoring and selling the iconic Italian scooters. The four vintage Vespas arrived in a crate yesterday in California after three months at sea and were put through their paces on a few choice, back roads long before the packing straw had blown across the driveway.