While the three Russian scooters Lomography has put up for grabs for some winning Conception Day couples sport more modern looks and features, it definitely is worth learning about their early counterparts, don’t you think? Read about the vintage Vyatka, the Vespa’s Russian “twin” after the jump!
When the Second World War finally concluded, car companies in Italy realized that cars weren’t affordable options for getting around war-devastated towns and cities. They had a smart idea—why not make lightweight, affordable, and low-maintenance motor scooters instead?
And so, the Vespa was born. Its popularity as a practical transportation alternative swept across Europe and eventually reached the USSR in the early 1950s. However, as the Soviet Union’s industrial production was characterized by several examples of “cloned” Western products (including cameras, as we are all very familiar with), the Italian beauty had an identical Russian “twin” named Vyatka.
Such “twins” would get any country into trouble in the recent times, but back in those days, Europe didn’t have stringent copyright laws yet. Another factor was the scooter boom in Europe, so Russia decided to follow suit, using the Vespa as a model to create their own line of Soviet scooters.
Despite its similarities with its Italian counterpart, the Vyatka was adapted for Russian conditions. It had more bulk, with bigger wheels and thicker metal sheet for the coachwork to suit the harsh terrain. Also, the fuel cap had a vial as fuel stations in Russia didn’t have oil/fuel mix. Its headlight can also be adjusted with ease through a handlebar command.
Admittedly, the Vyatka would lose to the lighter, faster, and collapsible Vespa. However, the Soviet scooter was still a hit, especially popular among the younger drivers. The 1970s saw the gradual decline of the Vyatka, despite upgrades (and even attempts to create their own), price drops, and numerous magazine advertisements. Production stopped in 1979, and it took a decade for the excess stock to be sold out.
Sources and additional readings:
Vyatka-Molot -- AutoSoviet
An Italian Affair: Vyatka vs Vespa -- English Russia