Happy Birthday Vespa

24 Apr

70 years ago, on 23 April 1946, Piaggio e C. S.p.A. filed for a patent for a “motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part.” Hence, the Vespa was born.

In Italian, the word Vespa means wasp. Many think the name refers to the sound it makes, but actually the scooter’s name is derived from the vehicle’s body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist.

The Vespa was born of need. After the WWII, Italy’s economy was crippled and the state of the roads was disastrous. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio’s founder, decided that since the company was no longer building aircraft, he would  leave the aeronautical field and address Italy’s urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit.

Perhaps the most known Vespa ride was that taken by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn around Rome in the 1952 film Roman Holiday.

A Paramount Picture, William Wyler's Production

A Paramount Picture, William Wyler’s Production

There have been many different versions of the Vespa and today, several series are in production.

According to Vespa.com,

The first sales of Vespa were managed through a small dealer network and the price of the standard model was 55,000 lire, [a bit over $200] while the deluxe version was sold for 66,000 lire. 

Here’s a brief walk through some of Vespa’s history. Photos from Vespa.com.

 

Vespa.com 1946 Original Vespa

Vespa.com Original Vespa 98 1946

Vespa.vom VESPA 98 CORSA CIRCUITO 1947

Vespa.vom VESPA 98 CORSA CIRCUITO 1947

Vespa.com Vespa 98 II Seire-1947-1948

Vespa.com Vespa 98 II Seire-1947-1948

Vespa.com Vespa 150 Side-Car-1955

Vespa.com Vespa 150 Side-Car-1955

Vespa.com Vespa 125 (VNA)- 1958

Vespa.com Vespa 125 (VNA)- 1958

Vespa.com vespa rally 200- 1976

Vespa.com vespa rally 200- 1976

Vespa.com Vespa 50 S- 1985

Vespa.com Vespa 50 S- 1985

Vespa.com VespaET2ET41996

Vespa.com VespaET2/ET4 1996

Vespa.com 2005_lx

Vespa.com 2005_lx

And today’s anniversary models…

Vespa.com

Vespa.com

If it weren’t quite so hilly in Cortona, we’d have bought one already. So tempting.  Which is your favorite???

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

11 Responses to “Happy Birthday Vespa”

  1. thetimelock.photos April 24, 2016 at 11:11 AM #

    Vespa is also very popular in India. Nice article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. karenincalabria April 24, 2016 at 12:00 PM #

    Fun article. I like the early ones. I think I’d select 1948 as, to me, it seems to break from the war years design and embrace the mid-century modern.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 24, 2016 at 12:14 PM #

      I like several of the early ones as well, and they always seem to draw a crowd. Good pick.

      Like

  3. stellalucentellc April 24, 2016 at 12:26 PM #

    Reblogged this on Conversational Italian! and commented:
    Check out this cool blog with great pictures about an iconic Italian brand – the Vespa!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jean Mathieson-Guest April 25, 2016 at 12:49 AM #

    One of my favorite movies – Dalton Trumbo finally got his Oscar for it. Can I get a Vespa complete with a Gregory Peck lookalike?

    Like

  5. Royce Larsen April 25, 2016 at 12:58 AM #

    Your focus on the Vespa sent me hurtling back to 1970 when I and a traveling companion rented one in Rome.
    Not allowing for good judgement I drove
    It was thrilling and allowed a tour of the Appian Way among other sites.
    Even after the second mishap she clung to her sense of adventure.
    Paid the damage deposit and never forgot the experience.
    My favorite would have to be the model which most closely resembles the 1958 125
    Thank you for the flashback
    PS I would recommend a rental and a ride-never too late!

    Like

    • blogginginitaly April 25, 2016 at 4:55 AM #

      I think many of us who studied in Italy in the 70’s remember such adventures! I had a similar one buzzing around Rome, and I don’t even remember the mishaps!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: