John Patterson, 2008 interview

By Jess Corbett

When he retired at age 55, John Patterson (known as JP to a generation of scooterists in the 1990’s), decided to keep out of mischief by getting a few vespas. His association with scooters dates back to the 1950’s, when he lived in Paekakariki, and commuted from there to Wellington on a vespa 125 on the Paekakariki Hill Road. The motorways were still being constructed at this time.

At that time there was a scooter shop in Auckland called Scooter House. John, needing parts for his vespas, recalls making phone calls to the shop requesting parts – only to call again a week later after nothing arrived. This went on for what seemed like an age. Eventually John visited the shop himself.
“How far would so many thousand dollars go?”

He got the parts he wanted and took them back to Rotorua. Next he received a call from the owner of the shop: “If you’re prepared to pay that much, you can have the lot”. So he bought the lot – hired a truck, took his daughter and son with him, and brought everything back to Rotorua to his workshop.

The vespa agency at that time was W. Whites of New Plymouth.

John had started importing Bajaj scooters, and also vespas from India, which sold quite well. The prices were lower than the Italian vespas sold by W. Whites, and this led to some disagreements between John Patterson and W. Whites. Eventually they offered the agency to John anyway, even though he’d had no plans to take it on.