If all the Vespistas in the world would build a nation, it would be twice as big as Denmark. With 70 years of history and 18 millions of units sold all over the world, Vespa is by far the scooter that, amongst all, has make the history of the two-wheels, starting a revolution that has been going on for 7 decades and it’s currently alive. Society, Costumes, Art, Design, Cinema, Fashion: the Vespa’s cultural storm has been changing many different fields and it keeps doing it today more than ever. So, let’s do a little #throwback to 1946 to live again together the story of this masterpiece, from the beginnings.
A legend is born: “It looks like a wasp!”
Like every legend, also Vespa has born in a moment of great changes and need of renewal. During the World War II, the Piaggio factory used to be one of Italy’s top aircraft manufacturers. Its plants were important military targets and, after the war, they became useless and irrevocably damaged by the war. A new idea was needed: how to re-start the industrial production in an effective way? Enrico Piaggio opted for an industrial reconversion: in a country emerging from war, he decided to focus on personal mobility. But the one who managed to build a vehicle destined to become extremely famous was actually the Piaggio’s engineer Corradino D’Ascanio: his design was absolutely original and revolutionary compared to all the other existing means of two-wheeled transport.
When designing the new prototype of a scooter, his aeronautical experience helped to find a solution to every problem: to eliminate the chain, he imagined a vehicle with a stress-bearing body and direct mesh; to make it easier to ride, he put the gear lever on the handlebar; to make tyre changing easier he designed not a fork, but a supporting arm similar to an aircraft carriage. Finally, he designed a body that would protect the driver so that he would not get dirty or dishevelled. Decades before the spread of ergonomic studies, the riding position of the Vespa was designed to let the rider sit comfortably and safely, not balanced dangerously as on a high-wheel motorcycle.
Enrico Piaggio himself named the scooter. Standing in front of the prototype, he exclaimed: “It looks like a wasp!” And so the Vespa was born.
Inspiring the greatest works
On 23 April 1946, Piaggio filed the first official Vespa patent. The Vespa “miracle” started growing year after year: riding a Vespa was synonymous with freedom, with agile exploitation of space and with easier social relationships. The success started spreading abroad, first in Europe, than also in Asia and America. While the legend was becoming reality, Vespa began to tease the creativity of its fans, which started to create many imaginative versions of the scooter.
Like the Vespa Sidecar, or the Vespa-Alpha of 1967, developed with Alpha-Wallis for the screen secret agent Dick Smart. Talking about cinema, Vespa became the definitive movie star of the fifties and sixties, from its very first appearance with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the magnificent "Roman Holiday”. The Vespa also has a racing career behind it. In Europe back in the Fifties, it took part, often successfully, in regular motorcycle races (speed and off-road), as well as unusual sporting ventures, like on-the-road challenges all over the world.
After many evolutions of different models, today the range of Vespa counts 6 different models: Primavera, Sprint, GTS, GTS Super, PX, 946. To celebrate the seventy anniversary of the legend, Piaggio has created a new limited edition of the “wasp”, launching a special version of the Primavera, the PX and the GTS. This is just the beginning of a celebration that will go on until the end of the year, and that will see the Vespa lovers all over the world honoring their favorite scooter in the most unexpected ways.