Vespa 180 Rally 1968

VIDEO

Vespa is an Italian luxury brand of scooters and mopeds manufactured by Piaggio. The name means wasp in Italian. The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. S.p.A. of Pontedera, Italy to a full line of scooters and one of seven companies today owned by Piaggio.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines, in a unified structural unit, a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection).
History
Vespa 150 TAP, modified for the French paratroopers that carried (not fired) an antitank weapon.

After World War II, in light of its agreement to cease war activities with the Allies, Italy had its aircraft industry severely restricted in both capability and capacity.

Piaggio emerged from the conflict with its Pontedera bomber plane plant demolished by bombing. Italy’s crippled economy, and the disastrous state of its roads, were not immediately conducive to the re-development of the automobile market. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio’s founder Rinaldo Piaggio, decided to leave the aeronautical field in order to address Italy’s urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses.

On 23 April 1946, at 12 o’clock in the central office for inventions, models and makes of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Florence, Piaggio e C. S.p.A. took out a patent for a “motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part”.

The original front protection “shield” was a flat piece of aero metal; later, this developed into a twin skin to allow additional storage behind the front shield, similar to the glove compartment in a car.

The fuel cap was located underneath the (hinged) seat, which saved the cost of an additional lock on the fuel cap or need for additional metal work on the smooth skin.

Piaggio sold some 2,500 Vespas in 1947, over 10,000 in 1948, 20,000 in 1949, and over 60,000 in 1950. The biggest sales promo ever was Hollywood. In 1952, Audrey Hepburn side-saddled Gregory Peck’s Vespa in the feature film Roman Holiday for a ride through Rome, resulting in over 100,000 sales.

In 1956, John Wayne dismounted his horse in favor of the two-wheeler to originally get between takes on sets, as well as Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and the entertainer Abbe Lane had become Vespa owners. William Wyler filmed Ben Hur in Rome in 1959, allowing Charlton Heston to abandon horse and chariot between takes to take a spin on the Vespa.

Vespa clubs popped up throughout Europe, and by 1952, worldwide Vespa Club membership had surpassed 50,000. By the mid-1950s, Vespas were being manufactured under licence in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain; in the 1960s, production was started in India, Brazil and Indonesia. By 1956, one million had been sold, then two million by 1960. By the 1960s, the Vespa—originally conceived as a utility vehicle—had come to symbolize freedom and imagination, and resulted in further sales boosts: four million by 1970, and ten million by the late 1980s.

Improvements were made to the original design and new models were introduced. The 1948 Vespa 125 had rear suspension and a bigger engine. The headlamp was moved up to the handlebars in 1953 and had more engine power and a restyled rear fairing.

(abridged)

(in Wikipedia)

© 2017-2024 Copyright • THE PERES COLLECTION