Vespa: A History Of Design

1945 MP5 Paperino
1945 MP5 Paperino
Towards the end of the Second World War, Enrico Piaggio was driven to start up production by the idea of offering the widest possible market low-cost product. And, with this in mind, the factory at Biella produced a motor scooter (1943-1944). This prototype, designed by the engineer Renzo Spolti and coded MP5 (Moto Piaggio 5), was christened 'Paperino' meaning 'Donald Duck' by the workers. But Enrico Piaggio didn´t like it and passed the job over to Corradino D´Ascanio to review the project and build something different, more advanced both technically and stylistically. However, before evolving into the Vespa, about one hundred Paperinos were produced, which are today highly prized by collectors. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1947 Vespa 98 cc Corsa
1947 Vespa 98 cc Corsa
The first Vespa Corsa or 'Race' was conceived for participation in various race circuits. With it, in 1947 Piaggio dealers could enter in speed contests. The Vespa in fact took part in several gradient and track races, with many victories in the scooter category, among which the Naples Grand Prix in 1947 and the chronograph climb at Rocca di Papa (Rome). [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1949 Vespa 125 Corsa
1949 Vespa 125 Corsa
In 1949 the Vespa 125 Corsa was manufactured. The frame was of aluminum alloy used in aircraft construction and assembled using alloy rivets, an avant-garde technological feature for the time. The larger fuel tank stretched towards the steering column and was intended to offer increased range and optimize riding at high speed. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1950 Vespa Monthery
1950 Vespa Monthery
In order to promote the sporting image of the Vespa, Piaggio turned its attention to record breaking in the hope of reviving a glorious post-war tradition. On April 7 1950, on France´s Monthery circuit, riders took turns as the Vespa spent 10 consecutive hours acquiring 17 world records including driving over 1,000 kilometers (621.4 miles) at an average of 124.3 km/h (77.2 mph). [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1951 Vespa Siluro
1951 Vespa Siluro
In 1951, Vespa set off to challenge the most prestigious speed trial: that of the standing kilometer. On February 9, between the 10th and 11th kilometer on the Rome-Ostia motorway, a Vespa with two horizontally opposed pistons designed by Corradino D´Ascanio and driven by the test-driver Dino Mazzoncini, beat all standing kilometer records with a time of 21.4 seconds and an average speed of 171.1 km/h (106.3 mph). [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1955 Vespa 150 side-car
1955 Vespa 150 side-car
The Vespa side-car was advertised in March 1948, following the success of the new 125 cc engine. The Vespa 150 VL 1 was the first to be built in this displacement. The first were sold at the end of 1954. Studied in minute detail, the Vespa with the sidecar had suspension coil springs for stability and comfort on long rides. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1956 Vespa 150 T.A.P. (Truppe Aero Paracadutate)
1956 Vespa 150 T.A.P. (Truppe Aero Paracadutate)
In the 1950s the French defense ministry commissioned ACMA, Piaggio´s French licensee, to produce a vehicle for military use. The result was the very special Vespa 150 T.A.P. (Truppe Aereo Portate or 'air troops carrier'), of which about 6,000 units were produced from 1956 to 1959 at ACMA´s factory. Used by the Foreign Legion and French paratroopers, the Vespa T.A.P. could be parachuted and had a 75mm cannon. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1957 Vespa 400
1957 Vespa 400
At the peak of the success of the Vespa, Piaggio decides to make an entrance into the world of the four-wheeler, still in the optic of producing an economic vehicle for a wide market. Once again Corradino D´Ascanio set out designing the little Vespa 400, a two-stroke car built in two versions. After its debut in 1957, 30,000 models were produced by ACMA, Piaggio´s French licensee. In 1959, it even ran in the Monte Carlo rally. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1962 Vespa 150 S Dali
1962 Vespa 150 S Dali
This Vespa´s paint job was designed to pay homage to the artist Salvador Dali. [Image Credit: Piaggio]
1965 Vespa 90 Super Sprint
1965 Vespa 90 Super Sprint
The Super Sprint is no doubt the most stylish Vespa with its unmistakable aggressive design, its speed, its irresistible spurt and its stirring riding. Production started in 1965. It features a smaller leg shield and an oddments pannier placed between the saddle and the handlebar. Like the Vespa GS of 1955, the spare wheel can be positioned in the middle of the floor platform. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1967 Vespa Alpha (Vespa 180 SS)
1967 Vespa Alpha (Vespa 180 SS)
This vehicle appeared in the film Dick Smart 2007 (1967) starring Richard Wyler, Margaret Lee and Rosanna Tapados. For this movie, the Vespa 180 Super Sport was transformed by Piaggio and by the English factory Alpha Willis to race along the road, fly like a helicopter, sail and dive like a submarine. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1970 Vespa 50 con pedali
1970 Vespa 50 con pedali
In 1970 in order to be sold on the French market, the Vespa 50 underwent a particular transformation: pedals. Although little appreciated from an aesthetical point of view, this solution was necessary to adapt to the French homologation provisions. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1972 Vespa Rally 200
1972 Vespa Rally 200
After the Vespa 180´s great success, Piaggio presents for the first time in 1972 the Vespa 200 cc. It has immediate success. Vespa fans are even ready to wait for months to have it. From an aesthetical point of view, the Vespa Rally 200 is immediately recognizable due to its adhesive stripes on the sides and on the mudguard. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1976 Vespa Primavera ET3
1976 Vespa Primavera ET3
The Vespa Primavera ET3 is a specific, limited-edition variant (144,000 units were produced overall) of the Vespa Primavera. The initials ET3 indicate that the vehicle had electronic ignition and that the engine´s single cylinder had a third transfer port. The smaller-sized body, like that of the Vespa 50 cc, gave the vehicle more maneuverability, a feature that made this Vespa a favorite of 1970´s youngsters. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1977 Vespa Gigante
1977 Vespa Gigante
This Vespa model was built for the 1977 show to launch the Vespa in Paris. Brought back and jealously guarded by the Piaggio Warehouse team, the Vespa was painted by artist Stefano Tonelli. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1982 Vespa PK
1982 Vespa PK
At the end of 1982, the year in which the Italian national soccer team wins the World Cup, the new Vespa PK is presented with two different displacements: 50 and 125. The versions are: Basic, Luxury (optional extras of a case and blinkers), Elestart (with electric start) and Automatic. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1985 Vespa 50 S
1985 Vespa 50 S
In 1985 Piaggio plans a faster 50 cc model as needed to satisfy the demand of some countries. The engine delivers larger power, even though the bore and stroke remain of the same size. By this time, a license plate was required in Italy on the Vespa 50 S. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1991 Vespa 50 Special Revival
1991 Vespa 50 Special Revival
Proposed at the beginning of the 1990s to satisfy both yesterday and today´s enthusiasts, the 50 Special was the most beloved Vespa with the young of the 1960s. Appreciated all over the world, the 50 Special is back again in 1991 in a limited edition (only 3,000 produced) to become acquainted with those who in the 1960s were not yet born or were absent-minded. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
1996 Vespa ET
1996 Vespa ET
This is the 50th anniversary Vespa, presented in September 1996 in Rome. The Vespa approaches the millennium without losing its traditional elegant, appealing, immediately recognizable and reassuring styling. At the same time, it has become technologically innovative, reaching new a milestone in terms of comfort and confirming its greatest strong point, the ability to reflect the fashions and requirements of the moment better than any other two-wheeler. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
2001 Vespa ET4 Ferrari
2001 Vespa ET4 Ferrari
This is Piaggio´s homage to the Ferrari racing stable on the occasion of their victory in the Formula One World Championship in 2000. These vehicles, personalized with the names Montezemolo, Todt, Schumacher and Barrichello, are painted on. The leather saddle is made of the same material used to upholster Ferrari cars. [Image/Text Credit: Piaggio]
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