Italian Beauty Retires

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Many a Mod might be weeping nostalgically into their parkas this week. Piaggio announced that the last Vespa PX, the company's flagship two-stroker, has rolled off the assembly line.

Stricter emissions laws forced the retirement of the company's last link to its storied, hand-shift, scooter lineup. From here on out, all of Piaggio's scoots will be twist-and-go automatic. No more clutch-twist-shift. No more sweet-smelling two-stroke smoke. Those days are over.

Andy Gillard, editor of Scootering magazine, told the United Kingdom's Telegraph newspaper that it was the end of an era. "It's a shame really because it's the end of a long line of motor scooters," Gillard said. "It's the end of the true bloodline — the Vespa PX is a design classic."

The 125cc model became a must-have in the Mod revival of 1970s Britain. This followed the obsession with the Italian scooter in the Mod scene of the 1960s — a slavish devotion to a style that also included the Lambretta scooter.

Piaggio UK general manager Tony Campbell said: "In an effort to clean up emissions of all motorised vehicles, the EU government has set a number of standards to be met within certain deadlines. The new emissions regulations, known as 'Euro 3,' make the production of a two-stroke engine larger than 50cc not economically feasible.

"The Vespa PX will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best. A model does not last for 30 years unless it was right in the first place."

Rising gas prices and slumping economics have led to a resurgence in the number of scooters on the road, and Piaggio say the newer models are still proving very popular with commuters.