The Vespa Cosa – How they got there.

Cosa brochure from Germany.
Cosa brochure from Germany.

We’ve brought you a few posts from the pen of Paolo Martin in the past, but here’s scooter he drew that finally became a reality. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the much maligned Piaggio Vespa Cosa.

When the Cosa arrived at the end of the 1980s, it was met with a less than luke warm reception. Looking at Martin’s drawings however, it seems it could have been much worse.

piaggio_cosa_pm5 piaggio_cosa_pm7 piaggio_cosa_pm4

While the 1980s might fairly be described as ‘square’ in the automotive industry, cars and bikes alike being very box-like, it might also be fair to assume that Martin had spent a few years awaiting the box to come back into fashion!

While Martin dates the project as 1987, some of the drawings above (which he claims are part of the project) are potentially from an earlier time, suggesting that he used older ideas from previous work with Piaggio and developed those.


The Vespa Cosa, designed by Paolo Martin.
The Vespa Cosa, designed by Paolo Martin.

As well as utilising the hand of Martin, the Cosa was also famously the first Vespa to be developed with the aid of a wind tunnel. The result being a scooter that was a bit too modern for its time, quite a long way away from the traditional Vespa’s looks as well, while mechanically no faster than the PX range of Vespas it was designed to replace. Things were not boding well for Piaggio…

Italian Cosa brochure showing colour choices.
Italian Cosa brochure showing colour choices.

Having ridden many Vespas from old to new, and owned a Rally 200, PX200 and Cosa 200 over the years too, we can often report on scooters here at Scooternova ‘from the horse’s mouth’ (yes, we actually ride what we blog about!). From experience therefore, the Mk 1 Cosa 200 was a heavier and more lethargic version of the PX200.

However it was also a more sure-footed scooter on the road and more stable at full throttle in winds, especially noticeable for example when slip-streaming and then overtaking a lorry. The ride was comfortable as well, the seat spacious, and the Cosa’s linked hydraulic brakes were pretty good too (if a bit of a pig to bleed!), which together with improved handling did make for a nicer Vespa on the roads. Maybe we should have got that Malossi 210 kit re-lined and fitted it after all…


There was talk and discussion about liquid cooling Vespas at that time and the Cosa was potentially designed and produced with a liquid cooled engine in mind.

It’s just a shame that nobody bought the slow, less than stunning scooter which instead of replacing the Vespa actually cost Piaggio both money and reputation, resulting in the Cosa slowly fizzling out after a couple of (relatively minor) mechanical overhauls (the final nicasil lined 200cc version actually being quite good, but of course not the liquid-cooled 2-stroke Vespa engine we would have all loved to have seen), while the good old PX Vespa is still being produced today.

On the positive side, because of all this the Cosa is still a fairly cheap scooter to buy, and from experience if you can handle the looks, we reckon you’ll enjoy the ride…


25 thoughts on “The Vespa Cosa – How they got there.

  1. I always liked the lines of the Cosa. It’s clearly ‘of it’s time’ maybe even ahead of it’s time… they years have been kind to it, and to me, although by no means a Vespa expert, the design works better than the P range or T5. A neglected classic, that I think is only now getting a positive reappraisal.

  2. I love the Cosa and have a 150LX and 200L both of which are running and have recently benefited from a full overhaul of the hydraulic brakes which is not as complex as one is led to believe. Provided one can tolerate a lower top speed due to the low gearing you actually get a far more sure footed ride with much better road holding particularly when cornering. The two big issues to watch for, apart from seized brakes and cracking autolube tanks, are the incredibly lean main jet (ca 94) and the razor sharpness of any cracks in the plastic bodywork.

    1. Thanks for your comments – glad to hear you’ve still got a couple of Cosas on the road.
      Top speed of the 200 wasn’t too slow, but noticeable, and I must add that the autolube tanks were far too small as well. If you have a decent journey of over 100 miles you have to keep topping it up with 2-stroke!

  3. Hi,i have cosa 125 from 1996 years,still its with me,40.000 km,never crush,original paint on it..looks like just came from shop:)

  4. I have had 2 vespa cost 200 cc. As stated, best handling scooter, very sure footed, excellent cornering abilities. Far better than my brand new vespa gts scooter. Prefer the lines of the cosa too. I can understand why at the time it never took off, too far advanced but if you look at the gts very similar lines but a better glovebox and better underseat storage on the cosa. Yes, cosa overtime for me.

      1. Agree
        Cosa a real Classic,a one off well ahead of its time ,
        In my eyes

      2. The Cosa is like Marmite….
        Personally I think they were beautifully ahead of the time.
        Most don’t understand why I like my Cosa, but !! The intellectual cansee the beauty

  5. Just acquired a L????X 200 Cosa.
    Very stylish ( was ahead of its time when released )
    My scooter pals call it my Sinclair C5 !!!
    Rides well I think
    Of it as a PX with more futuristic looks and clever extras
    If I knew how to add pictures I would

      1. Love my cosa`s, and I have 3, well 2 plus 1 all in parts plus a spare good condition complete engine. I spend most of my summer restoring my black 125 cosa, have a black rough Imported from france cosa as next years project, but still looking to buy more.
        being given a PX t5 from my son in 2000 it restarted my love of scootering, but like a fool sold my T5 for an auto scooter. bought and sold many since, but always admired Cosa`s, so last year i began buying some. My latest Cosa is very good to ride, but needs just a bit more go, so have purchased new piston/barrel and head kits from India in 150 cc size to try.

        the rear brake cylinder used was designed for a baby fiat car so look along them lines if you need one.

    1. Agree
      Top Vespa, missed by so many,
      Stylish ( to my eyes at least)
      Smooth as silk
      “ different “????????

  6. I obtained a 200CL:X Cosa in 2014/15 and enjoyed riding it once I’d put new modern tyres on (came with 840 original mileage but the tyres had gone hard),. Starting to plan for a modest engine upgrade + higher gearing and reckon this will then be an ideal touring scooter. It handles well.

    1. Great scooters to ride, just need a little more ‘oomph’ in our opinion.
      Try a SIP Road 2 exhaust maybe for a start as on a similar Px200 engine they add a little more torque.

    2. The Cosa is a bit like Marmite
      Love it or loathe it
      I’ve just got my long awaited Cosa
      A n LX 200
      Smooth comfortable ride,
      Different but to my eyes Beautiful

  7. I absolutely love my licence built Cosa 150 (LML Supremo). Just started a bit of an overhaul. Parts are hard to come by.

    1. Body parts for the Cosa/Supremo are hard to find anywhere I am afraid to say. Good luck with your project, please do share some photos when it is complete.

  8. Hellow from Greece!
    Does anyone know something about the paint code for a yellow cosa like the one in the photo of dhl???
    Thank you

Leave a Reply