Southland Vespa Club
by Richard Hemmingsen
Wright Stephenson’s had a Motor Garage in Dee Street next to E Hayes & Sons. Fred Jones was the manager and began to stock Vespa Motor Scooters around 1963/64.
I was working for New Zealand Insurance and Wright Stephenson’s were a major agent and client that I was allocated to look after, so I got to know him and was keen to buy a Vespa 150 Sportique.
A number of Vespa owners had seen or heard about the Otago Vespa Club and so a few of us got together to form the Southland Vespa Club. We would meet on a Friday night in a Coffee Bar then have a run down Dee and Tay Streets.
We added all the accessories we could and had a prize for the best turned out whenever we had a run. One Vespa was always kept in the garage and only taken out when fine so it did not get dirty. We found we could fill plastic bottles with petrol and place them behind the spare wheel which was at the front by our feet. This enabled us to go further without refuelling, especially at night or in remote places.
Our Annual run was to Alexandra where we joined the Otago Club to ride along side the floats on crowd control at the Blossom Festival. We would then continue on to Queenstown and travel home the next day. The Otago Club had a Display Team and some of our members joined in. Once we became known, a number of opportunities came our way.