Visiting our old Ape P501

I’ve taken a trip back to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving and had the opportunity to visit my old P501.


My old 1980’s Italian market P501 ape.

See, when i relocated from Chicago to Seattle, There was not enough space in the truck to bring this along  so i traded it to my Father for a Riva 180 and a Puch Magnum, which i sold once I got out to seattle.

How i came to own this is that while i was working at Scooterworks in Chicago, we imported container loads of used Italian scooters and restored Fiat 500’s. However, as the supply started to dry up and the US economy stumbled, we were importing fewer and fewer scooters until word came down that we were only getting a 20 foot container instead of the regular 40 foot container we’d normally get. So, I asked if I could get an Ape if I paid the difference in shipping costs between a 20 and 40 footer. To make a long story short, i ended up paying something like $500-600 delivered to Chicago.

From what i can tell, this ape was used somewhere around Genova.


The ape has about three or four of these bumper stickers on it.

The ape has three or four bumper stickers for this Italian radio station on it; apparently this radio station existed from 1977 till 2001.  ironic; as this vehicle has no radio…..


This is probably the coolest thing on the ape; the original dealer decal from where it was sold in Italy. L’Alveare means ‘the beehive’ in Italian. A cool choice for a place that sells Apes (bees) and Vespas (wasps).


Here you see the controls on the column; the orange painted lever on the right is the parking brake.  the lever on the far left is the reverse lever. Engage this and the four gears on the handlebars become four reverse gears.  The red lever and the one opposite it are the choke and heater controls.

The heater lever controls a flap in the rear of the Ape; In the off position it dumps the air that has cooled the engine out onto the pavement. Pull the lever and this flap closes and the air gets ducted into the right hand frame box beam and comes out under the seat to heat the cab. it actually works really well. the original system has what looks like an o-ring groove cut into the exhaust flange and the cylinder head. These are connected with passages and the head has a hollow tube that sticks out beyond the cooling shroud. Because of these design features if there is an exhaust leak it doesn’t make it’s way into the heated air and into the cab.

20141123_141122Here’s a shot of the engine; that dot to the left of the bolt in the cooling shroud is the aluminum tube I’m talking about. you can also see the Mikuni 28 conversion i put on it.  This Ape also has a  230cc Polini cylinder on it.

It’s a fun ride, and much larger than my Ape 50; I once had three people in this and rode it thru a few Chicago winters. It honestly sounds just like a big, rumbly P200 when it is running.

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