08 July 2014

From Russia with Love

Can the real Vespa please stand up? As Vespas grew in popularity across Europe after the Second World War, the Soviet Union’s factories were starting to stand idle so the Politburo ordered prototypes for the manufacture of small motorcycle products aka scooters, to be submitted by the end of 1956.

Vyatka VP-150 (1957-1966)

With such short deadlines given, the Vyatskiye Polanski Machine Works decided not to start from scratch but virtually make a direct copy of the Vespa 150GS which was in series production in Italy from 1955. Even the logo was very similar to the Vespa, which showed no creativity from the copiers'part. Compared to the Vespa 150GS the steel used was much thicker which made the overall weight 16kg heavier. It was 4cm longer and had larger wheels. Its 4.5hp 150cc engine powered a 3 speed gearbox to a maximum speed of 70kph compared to the Italian’s 8hp powering an economical 4 speed gearbox to a top speed of 100kph. The comparative stats are for the GS, while the standard Vespa 150 in 1957 only produced 5.4hp with a top speed of 80kmp, which made the heavier Vyatka not a bad choice for the rural backwaters of Mother Russia.

It had a round dashboard compared to the slightly oval one of the Vespa.  Since 1960 a red soviet style star appeared on the front wheel arch and the power was increased to 5.5hp similar to the standard Vespas coming out of Italy. It was sold cheaply at 350 rubles, unsurprisingly the Vyatkas became very popular. Over 300,000 VP-150 were built but due to pressure from Piaggio production was stopped.

V-150M Vyatka-Electron (1974-1979)

The next model had more of a Lambretta style to the design, made from tubular steel compared to the mono chassis of the earlier model. Using the same engine as the VP-150 but centrally mounted, the power was increased to 7,5hp and a top speed of 80kph. The V-150M came equipped with an electronic ignition and it was made more affordable with the selling price dropping to 280 rubles.

But the popularity was steadily declining due to some bad marketing policies and by 1974 production was stopped with over 1 million produced. The stock continued to sell until 1989 and it took till 1999 for all the excess spares to be sold out.

Tula Tulitza 200 (1957-1987)

The Work TMZ, also started making scooters but these were based on the German scooter, Glas Goggo TGA-200F which in turn is based off the Lambretta.

1987 Tula Tulitza 200

Tula Muravey (Late 1960s-Current)

In the late 1960s a 3 wheel started being produced and is still in production.

Molot Strizh (1999-Current)
The Vyatskiye Polanski Machine Works changed its name to Molot and started building scooters again in 1999.


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