Perfect in its compactness, functionality and widely imitated design, the Vespa scooter is not only a means of transport, but a true icon. Introduced by the Italian firm Piaggio in 1946 with the 98 model, the Vespa was quickly successful. The small size and affordability of scooters was perfect for promoting post-war mobility. But as with most new designs, it would also be heavily emulated, intended for icon status. From the origins of Piaggio to the first Vespa prototypes to the future-oriented Elettrica model, Vespa is synonymous with efficient and fun transport and style.
From the first licensed productions in the early 1950s, the Vespa was a citizen of the world, able to interact in social circles at the antipodes. It generated such specific cultural phenomena and adapted so well to a wide range of situations that it became a point of reference in each.
It inspired the traditions, musical trends and trends of youth. She has accompanied countries and continents in their economic and social evolution, and she has brought Italy with all its style, beauty and ability to combine technology and elegance in the streets of the whole world.
With over 19 million units sold, the Vespa is not just a scooter, but the scooter, known and loved around the world, a rare example of a motor vehicle that has survived crises and fashions, remaining always faithful to the original concept. The youth of the decades to come, no matter where they are in the world, will find themselves united by an extraordinary vehicle which has always been and always will be a symbol of freedom; a vehicle that will continue to delight and inspire future generations of enthusiasts.
Tried and true
As in the past (since the late 1960s), Vespas are still manufactured in their two original sizes “vespino” (small frame) and “vespone” (large frame).
The Vespa Sei Giorni 300 HPE features eye-catching license plates that are reminiscent of the scooters that won the Six Days Trial Race 1951, which included off-road competition.
Land speed record
The fastest Vespa is a 125cc missile that hit 106.26 mph on a jaunt from Rome to the nearby coastal town of Ostia in 1951. The most powerful model is the Vespa GTS 300 with 23.8 horses.
Today’s front suspension retains the same design as the first prototype from 1946, which was ingeniously adopted from Piaggio’s aircraft designs.
An electric future
The most recent and revolutionary Vespa is the Elettrica. The all-electric, zero-emission model is available with top speeds of 30 or 45 mph.
The Vespa at 50
The new generation of Vespa launched in 1996 has the traditional steel frame, but with an automatic transmission. To celebrate Vespa’s 50th anniversary, the ET 50 was presented to the international press in the historic center of Rome.
Special edition for 60
Designed to celebrate Vespa’s 60th anniversary, the GTV special series inspired by the first prototype from 1946 featured chrome handlebars, a headlight on the front fender and two separate seats.
The names of some Vespa models are taken from previous scooters, such as Primavera, Sprint and Six Days.
For many years Vespa scooters were fitted with 10 inch diameter wheels, but newer models are 11 inches.
Unveiled in 2013, the 946 model embodies the latest evolution of the original style. For every scooter sold, Piaggio donates $ 150 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS (RED), effectively delivering medicine to sub-Saharan Africa for more than 500 days.
“Vespa: Style and Passion” by Valerio Boni and Stefano Cordara, available now on Amazon, celebrates the 75-year history of the beloved Italian scooter and the culture it inspired.