Wheels: A 72-Year-Old Italian Star Barely Showing Its Age

Every year, J. D. Power highlights the automobiles that retain the highest percentage of their original price after three years. But the vehicle that beats them all never makes the list.

This winner would seem an unlikely value champ. It looks much as it did 72 years ago, when it made its debut. It has a sparse half cubic foot of luggage space, and its base model sports an anemic 3.2 horsepower generating a top speed of 40 miles per hour. But there is a good reason it didn’t make the list. It’s not a car. It’s a scooter. Very specifically, a Vespa scooter.

Across all 24 classes of vehicles considered in the Resale Value Awards, average retention value for four-wheelers was 55.7 percent. For all Vespas it was 72.1 percent, according to data from J. D. Power, giving Vespa an edge by over 16 percentage points. With the exception of collectible vehicles, Vespa scooters hold their value better than anything else on the road, including other scooter and motorcycle brands.

Two Vespa models outpaced the rest of the line: the Sprint 150 and the GTS 300, which retain an average of 79 percent of their original value after three years. They beat the best cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles, including the overall winner, the Dodge Heavy Duty Ram 3500 (75 percent); the best compact premium sporty car leaders, the Porsche Cayman and Boxster (58.9 percent); and even the celebrated 911 (58.7 percent). They beat the large premium S.U.V. winner, the Cadillac Escalade (56 percent). They crushed the leading small car, the

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