HAND-CRAFTED: A man in Changhua County has for more than 30 years been making miniatures that are about one-third the size of a real scooter
By Liu Hsiao-hsin and Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Despite all the work involved, Shih Chin-fu （史金福）, a 66-year-old mechanic in Changhua County, has found joy in making small-scale models of Vespa scooters by hand.
He began building small versions of the iconic scooters more than 30 years ago when his friend asked him to remove the rust on their miniature model, said Shih, who has been a mechanic for about 50 years and specializes in sheet-metal repair.
At the time, small-scale models were mass-produced, but cost about NT$7,000 to NT$8,000 apiece, which is why his friend went to the trouble of fixing it, Shih said.
Popular with children, the mini replicas are propelled by pedals, he said.
The models he builds are about a third of the size of a scooter, he said.
Since the Vespa scooter design involves mostly round edges, the models cannot be molded using a single sheet of metal, he said, adding that the process of welding the sheet metal so that the left and right sides of the scooter are symmetrical is very labor and time-intensive.
Shih also built a miniature version of the first-generation Volkswagen Transporter that was about one-sixth of the size of the actual van, battery powered and can be driven by an adult, he said.
Only Shih could master the complexity of building the Vespa models by hand, said Lee Ching-hsien （李青憲）, a Vespa fan.
Although building the miniatures requires a lot of effort, it gives him a sense of accomplishment, Shih said, adding that any amount of hard work is worth it when he sees the surprised looks on people’s faces.
Shih Chin-fu on Jan. 26 polishes one of the scale-model Vespa scooters that he makes by hand in Changhua County. Photo: Liu Hsiao-hsin, Taipei Times