A LITTLE bit of Bellagio could be coming to Birkdale in the not-too-distant future. Maghull might look a teeny bit more like Milan. Trendy young things could be treating the beach at Crosby like it’s the shoreline of Lake Como.
Well, I hope so anyway, if the latest in a long line of efforts to ween us all out of our cars works out. In much the same way that Italy went into lockdown before we did, it’s now come out of the other end earlier and is gradually getting back to doing all those things it does better than anyone else. Top-notch trattorias. Structurally challenged tourist attractions. Designer handbags. The Ferrari F8 Tributo.
It’s also particularly good at scooters, as anyone who’s ever struggled to get a quiet night’s sleep in Naples will testify. The latest one’s from a small start-up company called Wow! – yes, really, with an excitable exclamation mark! – and I reckon it looks sharp enough that it might just tempt a few younger motorists who’d otherwise have to fork out a grand just to insure a secondhand Peugeot 308. It’s very on-trend – it’s impossible not to social distance if you’re on a scooter – and there’s something very Tron-esque about its angular styling. The sort of thing the chaps at Bertone would sketch on a Friday night after listening to too much Daft Punk.
I reckon, as someone who used to love riding around on an old Vespa, that the Wow! Model 4 and its hotted-up, faster Model 6 sibling would go down a storm here, particularly because it doesn’t use some clattery old two-stroke to do its bidding. It’s electric, uses its brakes to recover energy, and you can charge it up completely in four-and-a-bit hours (try doing that in a Nissan LEAF). I’m not going to pretend for a moment that I’d chop in my MX-5 for one, but as a neat-looking second wheels for doing shorter trips with a zero emissions feelgood factor? I would.
Except that the Italians aren’t bringing it over yet. The government, despite openly touting e-scooters as part of its plan for a carbon-neutral future, hasn’t made it legal here yet. You can’t ride it on the road (the Model 6 can crack 50mph, but with the Model 4’s top speed of a dizzying 27mph, I’m not sure you’d want to), and you’d get wrapped around the knuckles if you tried it out on the pavement too. Whitehall has launched a trial for e-scooters, with Glasgow and Milton Keynes among the cities giving them a go first, but for now the UK seems woefully behind the rest of Europe.
If Boris Johnson – the former motoring correspondent for GQ, don’t forget - really is insistent that we use our cars less, then we might as well do some of the shorter journeys on something that looks cool. Providing it doesn’t rain, of course…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly