"Pretty, it looks like a wasp (Vespa)!" Legend has it that this was the phrase that kicked off the timeless motorcycle par excellence. The engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, presented the first MP6 prototype of the Vespa to Enrico Piaggio, son of the founder of Piaggio (Rinaldo Piaggio) who replied with this historic phrase.
The first patent for the 98cc Vespa was presented on April 23, 1946 to the public at the golf circle in Rome. Specialized magazines dedicated their cover to this new motorcycle that received a significant diversity of opinions. In the first year of manufacture, almost 2,500 units were produced with a price of 55,000 lira and 66,000 lira for the luxury version that had optional elements such as the speedometer or the characteristic white-band tires. The 98cc engine had 3.2 hp and a top speed of 60 km/h.
Enrico Piaggio used communication in a very similar way to that which had been used with the Volkswagen Beetle. The Vespa was advertised for the female public and the working class: a basic, resistant and easy to repair motorcycle, perfect to go for shopping or riding around the city. The international recognition arose with the appearance in the cinema, with appearances in numerous films of the time, highlighting "Roman Holidays" and "La Dolce Vita".
In 1956, 10 years after the start of its commercialization, Vespa managed to sell 1 million units and in 1988 they reached the figure of 10 million. In these years of growth, Vespa created some vehicles that attracted particular attention. One of them was the Vespa 400, a two-seater car with a rear-engined two-stroke that came to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally. This model is said to have been boycotted by Fiat for fear of losing market share for the Fiat 500.
Another particularly striking model was the Vespa 150 T.A.P. an anti-tank scooter designed for the French paratroops. 600 units of this “flying” scooter were produced, equipped with 1 cannon, 6 ammunition and 2 cans for fuel. Another particular Vespa was the transformation of the Vespa 50 with pedals to be able to homologate it under French regulations and to be able to market it in the country.
Vespa is said to have sold over 20 million units despite multiple imitations of the most iconic scooter. In 2016, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary, a range was marketed to celebrate Vespa's birthday. Two years later, the most modern model created by the Italian brand, the Vespa Elettrica, came out. The Pontedera brand that revolutionized the urban motorcycle market took the first step to adapt to the new market for electric motorcycles.
There has been a lot of talk in recent days about a new electric model inspired by the Vespa 98. The images of the prototype are impressive. The model is clearly inspired by the first Vespa but with a futuristic look. The prototype has caused sensation among lovers of the Italian brand, but we have bad news, because it is not designed by Vespa. Mightyseed Design, have been in charge of designing this prototype that, unfortunately, does not seem to be going to be commercialized.