When you think ‘scooter’, you think Vespa.
It’s more than a brand, and the two-wheeler has become an icon of Italian culture.
Over the years, Vespas have featured in films like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. It even made an appearance in Tony Stark: Iron Man #4 by Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti, Edgar Delgado and Joe Caramagna.
Business Insider took a closer look at the history of Vespa with Piaggio Group design director Marco Lambri.
“It’s a story that was born in 1946, after the Second World War thanks to Enrico Piaggio’s intuition and the genuis of an engineer, Corradino D’Ascanio. At the time, Piaggio was building in the aeronautical and naval field and the owners decided to reconvert the company in a new field: personal mobility. After the war, Italy had to start up again. And through this vehicle, simple, cheap, and for everyone, they thought they could give a significant contribution.”
Following its debut in 1946 at the Rome Golf Club, Vespa has gone on to make and sell over 1,6 million scooters worldwide.
It went from selling 2,500 scooters in 1947 to more than 20 times that in only three years, selling 60,000 in 1950. The first models were sold for 55,000 lire, or about $245 at the time. Vespa prices were very competitive, and this, together with its sleek design, is what turned it into a success.
“Vespa was born after a strange combination of coincidences,” said Lambri. “Corradino D’Ascanio, its engineer, actually didn’t love motorbikes. He designed this Vespa based on who was supposed to drive it but without the constraits of motorbikes back then.
It had to be easy to use, protective, comfortable. He designed it thinking about how he would have used it. Its name comes from Enrico Piaggio’s exclamation when he saw the first prototype. Its shape, with a narrow waist and large rear,resembled a wasp (vespa in Italian). When he said it, he said, “It looks like a wasp!” And this is how Vespa was born.”
Vespa differs from other scooters because its body frame is made entirely of steel stampings that are welded together, which is exactly how Piaggio made its planes when it launched the scooter in 1946.
If you’ve ever wondered exactly how they’re made – watch this:
You can’t deny it – it’s a thing of beauty.
If you’d like to get your hands on one, give Seth a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll hook you up with a sweet deal on a Vespa.
You can peruse the range at your leisure, here.
It’ll save you cash on petrol, it looks damn good parked in your driveway, and you’ll look damn good riding it.
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