Labor of love: Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

As cheap Chinese-made motorbikes flood Pakistan’s roads, fans of vintage Vespa scooters are scrambling to find spare parts and preserve models that hark back to a bygone era.

Piaggio’s Italian two-wheeler was the ultimate status symbol for Pakistani bike aficionados in the 1960s and 70s, when bicycles outstripped motorbikes on the roads and only a handful of people could afford to import luxury items from Europe.

Over the past two decades, motorbike ownership rates have skyrocketed in Pakistan, with locally assembled Chinese and Japanese bikes clogging up the roads in a country where much of the population is below the age of 30. (Reuters)

Photography by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters and Caren Firouz/Reuters

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<p>Shahzad stands with his abandoned Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Shahzad stands with his abandoned Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>A broken speed meter is seen on an abandoned Vespa scooter, in a street corner in Karachi, Pakistan, March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A broken speed meter is seen on an abandoned Vespa scooter, in a street corner in Karachi, Pakistan, March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>A man rides a Vespa scooter on a busy street, in a low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan on March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A man rides a Vespa scooter on a busy street, in a low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan on March 6, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>A Vespa scooter stands near a workshop, where old Vespa parts are painted, on a street in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A Vespa scooter stands near a workshop, where old Vespa parts are painted, on a street in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>An emblem for a scooter is shown, in the parts store of a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

An emblem for a scooter is shown, in the parts store of a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>An old Vespa scooter is chained at the premises of a house in low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

An old Vespa scooter is chained at the premises of a house in low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>A worker sprays a restored mudguard for a scooter at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A worker sprays a restored mudguard for a scooter at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>Parts of Vespa scooters are seen outside a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Parts of Vespa scooters are seen outside a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>Journalist Arif Balouch, 48, poses for a photograph with his 1980 model Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan, March 2, 2018. “For me, a Vespa scooter is like a family tradition. My father used to ride this and I myself find this very good as it has two separate comfortable seats which is uncommon, it has a compartment to keep things which is also uncommon and for safety it guards your knees during accidents. I would say it’s the BMW of scooters,” Balouch said. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Journalist Arif Balouch, 48, poses for a photograph with his 1980 model Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan, March 2, 2018. “For me, a Vespa scooter is like a family tradition. My father used to ride this and I myself find this very good as it has two separate comfortable seats which is uncommon, it has a compartment to keep things which is also uncommon and for safety it guards your knees during accidents. I would say it’s the BMW of scooters,” Balouch said. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>Akram (C) applies coating on Vespa scooter parts, as he chats with owners of Vespa scooters Farrukh Shahbaz (L) and Matiur Rehman outside his workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Akram (C) applies coating on Vespa scooter parts, as he chats with owners of Vespa scooters Farrukh Shahbaz (L) and Matiur Rehman outside his workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>Engine parts and tools cover the engine restoration table at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Engine parts and tools cover the engine restoration table at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>A shopkeeper and Vespa enthusiast holds his collection of mini memorabilia, at his auto parts shop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A shopkeeper and Vespa enthusiast holds his collection of mini memorabilia, at his auto parts shop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>A mechanic puts a headlight on a Vespa scooter, after repairing it at a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan March 1, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A mechanic puts a headlight on a Vespa scooter, after repairing it at a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan March 1, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>Journalist Nazeer Udding Siddiqui, 58, poses for a photograph with his 1979 model Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan March 6, 2018. “My father used to work for Khwaja Auto as a manager and they were the only distributers of Vespa scooters. For me, people who own Vespas are very honourable people who still keep this tradition alive,” Siddiqui said. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Journalist Nazeer Udding Siddiqui, 58, poses for a photograph with his 1979 model Vespa scooter in Karachi, Pakistan March 6, 2018. “My father used to work for Khwaja Auto as a manager and they were the only distributers of Vespa scooters. For me, people who own Vespas are very honourable people who still keep this tradition alive,” Siddiqui said. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

<p>Members of a Vespa rider’s club gather at sunrise for a ride in Lahore, Pakistan March 11, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Members of a Vespa rider’s club gather at sunrise for a ride in Lahore, Pakistan March 11, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>A worker restores the handlebar and light assembly of a scooter, at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 4, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A worker restores the handlebar and light assembly of a scooter, at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 4, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>Scooters are parked near Delhi Gate as members of a Vespa rider’s club gather at sunrise for a ride in Lahore, Pakistan March 11, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Scooters are parked near Delhi Gate as members of a Vespa rider’s club gather at sunrise for a ride in Lahore, Pakistan March 11, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>A restored Vespa scooter painted in Pakistani truck art style, is parked alongside traditionally-coloured scooters at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

A restored Vespa scooter painted in Pakistani truck art style, is parked alongside traditionally-coloured scooters at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>Disassembled Vespa scooters rest on shelves in different states of restoration, at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan March 6, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Disassembled Vespa scooters rest on shelves in different states of restoration, at a Vespa restoration and repair workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan March 6, 2018. (Photo: Caren Firouz/Reuters)

<p>Amin, who paints repaired Vespa scooter parts, reads a newspaper outside his workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters) </p>
Vintage Vespa fans cling to the past in Pakistan

Amin, who paints repaired Vespa scooter parts, reads a newspaper outside his workshop in Karachi, Pakistan Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

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