Surely one of the most iconic two-wheelers ever built, the Vespa celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

April 23, 2021 is the official anniversary of the scooter – the date in 1946 when the first patent was filed.

Originally an aircraft company from the 1940s and based in Biella, northern Italy – after the original factory in Pontedera was destroyed by Allied bombers – Piaggio branched out after the war to respond to the need for modern and affordable transport for the Italian mass market.

Led by brothers Enrico and Armando Piaggio, the company first produced a small motorcycle called the MP5.



Designer: Corradino D’Ascanio

Nicknamed Paperino, Donald Duck in Italian, it was not appreciated by Enrico, who then commissioned Corradino D’Ascanio to redesign it.

The aeronautical engineer made it clear that he hated traditional motorcycles, calling them “dirty, bulky and unreliable”.

In response, he proposed the MP6.

D’Ascanio mounted the 98cc two-stroke engine alongside the rear wheel, which was driven directly through the transmission, eliminating the need for a “dirty” oily chain.

The scooter had a through-beam, with stress-resistant steel panels, one-sided front suspension, interchangeable front and rear wheels on steering knuckles and even a spare tire.



Original: 1946 <a class=Vespa” content=”https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article23952783.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_Original-1946-Vespa.jpg”/>
Original: 1946 Vespa

The Vespa was one of the first vehicles to use unibody construction, in which the body is part of the chassis – now common on motorcycles.

The wording of the 1946 patent summed up the thinking behind the new scooter – and still seems relevant today.

He spoke of a “practicality model”, with “rationally placed parts and elements” and a “combined frame with mudguards and an engine cover covering all working parts”.

Browse over 19,000 new and used bikes for sale at Autotrader.co.uk/bikes

He added that it “constitutes a rational and comfortable motorcycle offering protection against mud and dust without compromising the requirements of appearance and elegance”.

In 1947 the company sold 2,500 units, but by 1950 that had climbed to 60,000.



On the map: poster from 1953 for the Roman festival
On the map: poster from 1953 for the Roman festival

The scooter received a huge promotional boost in 1953 when Audrey Hepburn sidelined on Gregory Peck’s Vespa in the Hollywood hit movie Roman Holiday.

The city and its mode of transport have become associated around the world with “la dolce vita” – the sweetness of life.



British brochure from 1949
British brochure from 1949

By the mid-1950s, Vespas were being manufactured under license in countries all over Europe, including the UK, with one million sales in 1956 and two million in 1960.



Soaring: sales take off in the 1950s
Soaring: sales take off in the 1950s

New models were introduced using 50cc and 125cc engines.

Sales reached four million in 1970 and, by the end of the 1980s, 10 million.



1953 Vespa Torino
1953 Vespa Torino

The success and love for the Vespa shows no signs of slowing down, with 1,800,000 produced over the past decade.

For the anniversary, the firm released a 75th special edition, comprising the Primavera and GTS models.

They sport a metallic yellow livery, representing a color “in vogue” in the 1940s and a subtle “75” on the panel.



Unique: Vespa Primavera 75th
Unique: Vespa Primavera 75th

There is a nubuck leather saddle, matching rims with a “diamond finish” and plenty of chrome parts.

A rear luggage accommodates a special personalized leather bag with waterproof cover.

The scooters have a 4.3 inch color TFT dashboard and smartphone connectivity with the Vespa MIA app.



Anniversary Edition: Vespa Primavera 75th
Anniversary Edition: Vespa Primavera 75th

Scooters come with a “welcome kit” which includes a silk scarf, vintage steel Vespa plaque, owner’s booklet and collectible postcards from eight decades of Vespa history.

A 75th jet helmet in dark smoky gray with metallic yellow graphics is also available, priced at £ 180.



Stylish: 75th anniversary jet helmet
Stylish: 75th anniversary jet helmet

The Primavera 75th 125cc costs £ 4,900.

The GTS Super Tech 75th costs £ 6,100 for the 125cc and £ 6,650 for the 300cc.

Get one now and enjoy la dolce vita.

Browse over 19,000 new and used bikes for sale at Autotrader.co.uk/bikes


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