The story of Vespa – an iconic scooter

The story of Vespa – an iconic scooter

Vespa scooters are Italian scooters manufactured by a company called Piaggio. They have been around for simply ages and yet the retro image of the Vespa still lures people to buy them. They have an almost timeless elegance about them.

The Vespa originated in 1946 as a single motor scooter, it was to be a smaller and cleaner alternative to the motorbike. In the 40’s motorbikes were renowned for being dirty, and greasy, but the Vespa was clean and tidy and the only traces of mechanics were disguised well within the body and the engine casing towards the rear of the scooter.

Since then Piaggio has developed a full range of different scooters and is currently one of the world’s leading motorbike and scooter manufacturers. However, Piaggio still makes the trademark Vespa scooter and distribute worldwide.

Vespas were technological icons, being flashed across cinema screens in big screen films with strong macho men riding them. The Vespa was ‘the’ scooter to have in the 1940’s, and is still highly popular in today’s society. May famous people (both male and female) such as Robert De Niro, Henry Fonda, and Sarah Jessica Parker have all owned Vespa scooters.

With the development of technology, it would be expected that more advanced technology would take over, but this has not happened. In fact, the opposite has occurred, and people are actually setting up websites devoted to their love of the Vespa scooter and the style that the Piaggio name stands for.

What is a Vespa?

The original Vespa scooter had a single motor. It had a painted, steel body which completely covered the engine hiding the mechanical components. It had a flat board for the feet and a complete front faring to give protection from the wind or from bad weather. It also had a rear pillion passenger seat. The petrol cap could be located below the hinged seat. It had small wheels and rear suspension.

The original Vespa design came from a scooter known as a Cushman scooter (made in the U.S.A) which pre-dated world war two. These were only made in green and were brought into Italy for the marines to use as transport.

D’Ascanio designed the Vespa concept based upon the Cushman scooter but made it suitable for both men and women by having sufficient leg room for long skirts or dresses, and make it clean enough so that the rider did not get oil on their clothing. D’Ascanio brought his design to Enrico Piaggio who make the first Vespa Scooter in 1946.

The name Vespa was decided upon when Piaggio heard the sound of the scooter’s engine. Apparently, he stated, “sembra una vespa” which translates to “it resembles a wasp”, and the name Vespa was born.

In 1947 Piaggio sold approximately 2500 Vespa scooters, but in 1950 he sold in excess of 60000, this shows the increase in demand for these exciting new scooters.

Piaggio has made some changes to Vespa scooters through the years. Giving the scooter a more powerful engine, and altering the positioning of the headlamps.

Vespa scooters are one of the most successful scooters of all time, and with the increase of traffic on today’s roads it is expected that scooters and mopeds will increase in popularity. Who knows what Piaggio will bring forward to deal with the sheer volume of people travelling on today’s roads, but one thing is certain and that is that the popularity of the Vespa Scooter remains constant.

If the article intrigued you and you want to check our top petrol scooters list, then do not hesitate in doing so, but if you are more interested in a modern eco-friendly way to travel, then check out our best electric scooters for adults.