In 1964 Piaggios compelling line of GS sports scooters had been on the market for ten years. Industrial design trends were changing and the company was facing increasing pressure from rival Innocenti who had just introduced the sleek and powerful TV200. The GS160 was starting to look dated and now significantly lagged in the performance race. Toward the end of 1964 Piaggio were placing the finishing touches on the new successor to its glorious line of GS sports scooters: The GS180 ;Super Sport;.Just prior to the Milan launch Piaggio finally relinquished its beloved GS model name for the more succinct 180 ;Super Sport;. Although the Super Sport retained the same core format as the GS160 including the piston ported engine, spare wheel location, suspension and legshield toolbox, its styling was completely new. The 180SS represented a new milestone in power and performance for the Vespa brand.Industrial design themes were changing in the mid 60s. Gone where the organic shapes of the previous decade and everything from phones to fridges where incorporating a more angular look. The 180 SS inherited several styling cues from the recently introduced 150 GL and took it them a whole new level. Massive cowls, the widest of any vespa, and a front fender now featuring pronounced squared off side edges. The aluminium trim was retained from the GS except now in a more simplified form without end curves. The SS horncasting shape changed to include a longitudinal ridge and the ;shell horn; pattern was changed to a more contemporary look.In 1968 the top of the horncasting was altered again to incorporate Piaggios new hexagonal badge. [check] The angular aesthetic continued with the headset which featured a trapezoid headlight which still polarizes peoples opinion today. The trapezoid headlight was replaced on US models in 1968 by the round headlight from the Rally 180. The headset introduced removable underside panels which facilitated access to cables. In many instances these got lost over the lifetime of a bike and remain a valuable part today. Threaded mounting points where also provided for mirrors and windshields. The SS would provide the core DNA for Piaggios Vespa body styling for the next 30 years.Battery models retained the ignition key at the top of the headset and like the GS160 all ignition keys were identical ;blanks;. The Battery was housed in a bracket in the center of the spare tyre. Although the SS speedo maintained the same ;clamshell; shape from the GS, it was unique to the SS. The internal drive mechanism was resized to accommodate a thicker cable. Along with the headlight a squarer interpretation of the GS160s ;deco; taillight was provided. In fact three variations of taillight existed on US models of the SS:1. Global markets: squarer version of the deco GS tailight Siem2. US market variation 1: ;Mickey Mouse; tailight3. US market variation 2: ;tractor style; tailight fixed to late model round headlight. Clearly this was a quick hack to meet US transportation regulations of the time.The drum brakes, front suspension assembly with combined spring/shock absorber and (unique to the GS/SS) equal sided split rims where retained from the GS160. The spring/shock absorber format was subsequently abandoned in later models of vespa until the arrival of the P series. Piaggio lengthened the front forks and lowered the rear of the SS which noticeably improved road handling over the GS160 [check]Colour was also an integral part of 60s design and the supersport was the first large frame vespa that was made available in a range of colours. Hawthorn White was produced over the entire production, Three shades of Red for the respective years 196X, 196X and 196X. The SS also introduced the new badge styling for the vespa range. The thin metal badges where superseded with XXmm thick brushed aluminium badges. The front legshield badge read ;Vespa S.S; and a new rear cursive font badge located just above the taillight displayed ;Super Sport;. From 1964 to 1967 [check] the traditional shield shaped Piaggio badge was fixed to the top of the horn cast. In the final year of the SS production Piaggio switched to the new hexagonal badge and the frame became essentially the same as the Rally 180 that superseded it.Unlike Innocenti who where fixated on pushing the performance envelope at the expense of reliability Piaggio took a more conservative approach with the 180SS engine. Although the 180SS lagged the Innocenti rival by over 2hp it still represented a significant improvement over its GS160 predecessor. The 180SS featured essentially the same piston ported engine configuration as the GS160 and with it the lung clogging 5% petroil mix.Piaggio essentially bored out the 160GS engine to 180cc, uprated the small end to a roller bearing and introduced a half circle crank and new conrod. As a consequence the SS lost a little of the GSs much acclaimed smoothness but gained low end torque and acceleration. ;The SS180 feels as if it would climb the side of a house; remarked a road test reporter in the 196x issue of Scooter World magazine. Although a well tuned SS180 provides similar performance to a modern day PX150 the wonderful piston ported sound forever remains unique to the GS/SS models.The SS barrel has more wall thickness than the GS160 and can be bored out to accommodate a P200 piston for a resulting capacity of 210cc. Because the SS/GS share the same engine casings mating an SS cylinder, conrod and (optionally) crankshaft makes a good upgrade option for GS160 purists. The SS featured the same Delorto SI 27/23 carb as the GS160 with slightly different jetting to accommodate the engines increased thirst. Early on in the production run a number of SS180s started exhibiting seizing problems and Piaggio was quick to issue a service bulletin to rectify this problem. Their solution was to alter the main jet from 177 to 120.
- PIAGGIO VESPA
- 180 SS
- Orlando Auto Museum
- Fuel Specification
- Engine Size
- Rear Brakes Specification
- Transmission Spec
- Transmission Type
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