Vespa has not only given its stamp to an
entire epoch, it even became the symbol of a Europe struggling to rise
from the catastrophe of the Second World War. Piaggio came out of the
conflict with its Pontedera plant completely demolished by bombs.
At the company's helm was Enrico Piaggio, having taken over from his
father Rinaldo. Enrico decided to leave the aeronautics field and pay his
attention to problems of personal mobility. Italy's broken economy and the
disastrous state of the roads did not lend to fast developments in the
automobile markets. But hunger for mobility required immediate answers.
From an intuition of Enrico Piaggio's, in the spring of 1946 the Vespa was
Piaggio surrounded by vespas
Corradino D'Ascanio undertook to design a simple vehicle, robust and
economic but comfortable and elegant, one which could be driven easily by
anyone, women too, and which would not dirty the driver's clothes and
would permit carrying a passenger. D'Ascanio, a genial aeronautics
engineer, had been with Piaggio since 1934 and was responsible for the
project and construction of the first modern helicopter. D'Ascanio, who
could not stand motorbikes, dreamed up a revolutionary vehicle. Dipping
into his knowledge of aeronautics, he imagined a vehicle built on a frame
and with a handlebar gear change. He mounted the engine on the rear wheel.
The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed easy wheel
In April of 1946, the first 15 Vespas left the Pontedera plant. The first
Vespa had a 98cc two-stroke engine giving 3.5 hp at 4,500 revs. It reached
60 kilometres per hour and had 3 gears. This was a real two-wheeled
utility vehicle. But it did not resemble an uncomfortable and noisy
motorbike; it emanated class and elegance at first glance.
Vespa's success was a phenomenon never to be repeated again. The end of
1949 had produced 35,000 units. Italy was getting over its war wounds and
getting about on Vespas. In ten years, one million were produced. By the
mid-fifties, Vespa was being produced in Germany, Great Britain, France,
Belgium, Spain and, of course, Italy. and only a few years later, in India
image of the Piaggio & C. factory, Italy
The 125 of 1948, the legendary 150 GS of 1955, the 50cc of 1963, 1968's
Primavera, the PX, born in 1978 and still today produced in the classic
125, 150 and 200cc versions are just some of the steps that have
distinguished the technical and stylistic evolution of the worlds most
But Vespa is not just a commercial phenomenon. It is an event that has
involved the story of social custom. During the "Dolce Vita" years,
"Vespa" meant "scooter"; foreign newspaper correspondents described Italy
as "Vespa country", and the role Vespa played in Italian society is shown
by its appearance in dozens of films.
One is struck by Vespa's ability to live on from one generation of
youngsters to a different one, subtly modifying its image each time. The
first Vespa offered mobility to everyone. Then, it became the two-wheeler
for the time of economic boom. And during the sixties and seventies, it
was the vehicle for the propagation of the revolution of ideas that the
kids of those years were establishing. Advertising campaigns like "Who
Vespas gets to eat the apple" have symbolized an era in our history, and
the story goes on today with the new generation of Vespa ET.
In over 50 years of
history, Vespa has fascinated millions of people, giving the whole world a
unique image of Italian style, and remaining the irreplaceable means of
personal transport, synonymous with freedom.
‘89 different models of
15 million manufactured
! ! !
From the first Vespa in 1946 with its 98 cc, to the
most recent version launched in 1992, Piaggio has produced eighty-nine
different models; in all these years, almost 20,000 changes have been made
to the original project and more than 1,500 parts have been replaced.
Without forgetting the many versions of the Cosa, which appeared in 1987.
Piaggio is the worlds only
manufacturer to boast both technologies of scooter production, that of the
steel bearing structure which the Vespa has adopted from the start, and
that of the scooter with steel frame and technopolymer body, which Piaggio
inaugurated with the Sfera in 1990. The Vespa is currently built in Italy,
India and Indonesia, with engines from 50 to 200 cc, in the PX (large
body) and PK FL2 (small body) versions and a Classic version for the
Japanese market, where it is the best-selling two-wheeled western vehicle
with eight thousand units a year. A total of approximately fifteen million
Vespa scooters have been manufactured all over the world in the various
versions from 1946 to the present day.
years of the Vespa: the models that have made history
It is difficult to pick out the most representative Vespas from an
evolution that has produced almost one hundred models. Some of them are
sought after by collectors because they belong to special series, or
because they were rapidly replaced by subsequent versions, and are highly
priced in the period scooter market, extremely active all over the world.
Others, produced in greater numbers or because they stayed on the market
for longer, are classic models, which have left their mark in the history
of two-wheeled mobility.
Vespa 125, 1948 - The first Vespa 125 cc. It differed from the 98 not only
for the engine size, but also for the introduction of rear suspension; the
front suspension was also modified.
Vespa 125, 1953 - This marked the first important change to the engine:
bore and stroke and the timing gear were modified. The power increased to
5 bhp at 5,000 rpm, and the top speed to 75 km/h. The design of the
fairing at the rear was also new. Vespa 125 U, 1953 - The Utility version
with spartan styling, which sold at 20,000 lire less than the more modern
125. The headlamp appeared high up on the handlebar for the first time in
Italy (it had already been introduced on a number of exported models).
Vespa 150 GS, 1955 - Experts called it "the most popular, imitated and
remembered model". There were numerous innovations: the 150 cc
engine, 4-speed gearbox, standard long saddle, faired handlebar-headlamp
unit, and wheels with 10 tyres. The Vespa could reach 100 km/h. The design
also changed, with a much more aerodynamic body.
Vespa 160 GS, 1962 - This was born to continue the market success of the
first GS, with a completely new design. The exhaust silencer, carburettor
and suspension were also new. The power output was 8.2 bhp at 6,500 rpm.
Vespa 150 GL,1963 - Another new design for what has been called "one
of the best-looking Vespas produced by Piaggio designers". The
handlebar, trapezoid headlamp, front mudguard and trimmed down rear lids
were all new.
Vespa 50, 1964 - The first Vespa 50 cc. Born to exploit the new Italian
Highway Code which made a number plate obligatory on larger engines.
Extremely versatile and reliable, the engine featured a new architecture,
with the cylinder inclined 45° instead of horizontal. It was the last
design to leave Corradino D'Ascanio's drawing board.
Vespa 180 SS, 1965 - It marked a new milestone in the growth of the engine
(181.14 cc), with 10 bhp for a top speed of 105 km/h. The 180 SS (Super
Sport) replaced the glorious GS 150/160 cc. Piaggio modified the front
cowling, making it more aerodynamic, and significantly improving comfort,
handling and road holding.
Vespa 125, 1966 - Unofficially known as the new 125, it featured radical
innovations in the design, frame, engine (inclined 45°) and suspension.
Vespa Super Sprint 90,1966 - A special series derived from the Vespa 50/90
cc and the new 125, the hold-all was positioned between the saddle and the
handlebar for a more laid-back riding style. The handlebar was narrow and
low, and the mudguard and cowling were streamlined. With an engine
capacity of only 90 cc, it could do 93 km/h.
Vespa 125Primavera, 1968 - Together with the subsequent PX version, it was
the most durable version of the Vespa. It derived from the new 125, but
with considerable differences in the engine, which raised the top speed by
10 km/h. Great attention was paid to details, which included the classic,
practical bag hook.
Vespa 180 Rally, 1968 - With this new vehicle, Piaggio extended the
rotary timing fuel feed system to its entire production. The engine was
new, the front headlamp new and more powerful, the frame, derived from the
Vespa 150 Sprint, was narrower and more aerodynamic than that of the Super
Sport. Vespa 50Elestart, 1970 - It featured the great novelty of electric
ignition, but the design was also completely revised and embellished
compared to the 50 Special.
Vespa 200 Rally, 1972 -The Vespa with the largest engine. This model, with
12.35 bhp at 5,700 rpm, could reach 116 km/h. Vespa 125 PrimaveraET3, 1976
-The name stood for Electronic 3 intake ports, and included important
changes to the engine, which had more power and sparkle. Even the styling
was changed from the standard Primavera (which remained in the range).
Vespa P 125 X, 1978 - The "PX" marked a new step forward in styling (the
bodywork was completely redesigned) and performance. The holdall was
positioned behind the cowling.
The same year the P 200 E also appeared, which could be equipped with
separate lubrication and direction indicators incorporated in the body.
Three years later the PX 150 E was launched, with performance halfway
between the two models.
Vespa PK 125, 1983 - This replaced the Vespa Primavera (standard and ET3)
which remained in production with the Classic body for the Japanese
market, where it was the best-selling western two-wheeler vehicle. The
styling was new, and the PK body was completely different from that of
previous scooters, because the welds of the body no longer overlapped but
Vespa PK 50, 1983 - Substantially identical to the PK 125, it appeared in
two models, PK 50 and PK 50 S, both with 4-speed gearbox and electronic
Vespa PK 125 Automatic, 1984 - An automatic transmission was introduced on
the Vespa, probably the most radical change (at least for the driver)
since 1946. The presence of the automatic transmission was emphasized by
the absence of the brake pedal, which was replaced by a lever on the left
handlebar (which did not have to control the clutch as that was
automatic). It was also available with automatic oil-petrol mixer and
electric ignition. The following year the Vespa PK 50 Automatic was
Vespa T 5 Pole Position, 1985 - The T 5 was the extra-sporty version of
the PX series. With a new engine, aluminum cylinder and 5 intake ports,
but the design was also new, particularly at the rear and around the front
headlamp which incorporated an aggressive dome with a small plexiglas
windscreen. A spoiler was added on the cowling.
Vespa 50 N, 1989 - The changes to the Italian Highway Code meant that 50
cc vehicles were no longer bound by the 1.5 bhp limit, and Piaggio
presented a new small Vespa with improved performance (over 2 bhp at 5,000
rpm), and new, smoother styling. A Speedmatic automatic version was also
launched but is no longer in production, while, after two successive
face-lifts, the Vespa 50 N is still being produced by Piaggio today.
WHAT KIND OF
SCOOTERS DO YOU SELL?
We deal in all types and models of vintage Vespa
scooters, mostly original large frame Vespa 150cc scooters
manufactured between 1960-1970.
WHAT IS VESPA
RESTORATION, WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
Consider this fact before reading on –
“A Vintage scooter can only appreciate in value, it’s an
We take each restoration very seriously, investing time and
meticulous craftsmanship, using only the finest of materials
and parts. We truly specialize in bringing vintage scooters
back to their original brand new pristine condition. It’s as
if you purchased them from the original ‘Piaggio’ factory
floor in Italy all those years ago.
DOES THE SCOOTER
HAVE AN ORIGINAL TITLE? HOW DO I REGISTER THE SCOOTER?
the age of these imported scooters, titles are a real rarity.
We supply each Vespa we sell with a Bill of Sale / official
company Invoice, which is enough in many states to register a
scooter over 20 years old. Each state's DMV has different
requirements and restrictions, so we strongly recommend you
check with local authorities to determine what you need. There
is a great resource on the web where you can register your
scooter for $75. Go see
www.its-titles.com for more information on registering
your scooter online. It takes about 1-2 weeks, and this seems
to be a very safe method.
DO ALL VINTAGE
VESPAS REQUIRE A GAS / OIL MIX ?
Yes and no. Yes, all vintage vespas have two-stroke engines
that require two-percent or five-percent oil to be mixed with
the fuel. However, some of the later models have an auto-lube
system, which does the mixing for you. So you can put the oil
in a separate tank than the gas, and it is mixed in the
engine. For most of
our 1960’s models, you will definitely need to pre-mix the gas
Eighteen million Vespas have buzzed their way into the world since
1946. Stood end to end, they would form a line measuring 20,000 miles in
length. The secret of the Vespa scooter's success lies in its uniqueness,
in the unmistakable sheet metal skin that, over the span of decades, has
proven its versatility without ever abandoning its familiar face. Today,
the Vespa shines forth like a lighthouse from the monotonous sea of
industrial mass production. Nowhere else can one buy a factory-new
legend.Presented here is the history of Vespa, from its beginnings to the
present day, clearly arranged, understandable for all, and, above all,
describing even the tiniest detail in an unprecedented form. An
illustrated chronicle, with all the information needed for complete
understanding. The result is a Vespa book, through and through - as unique
as the Vespa itself, with illustrations that have never been seen before.
It is a volume that lets the reader become immersed in the culture of
Vespa and la bella vita.The Author Dr. Gunther Uhlig has a fondness for
the Mediterranean lifestyle, including the quintessentially Italian Vespa
scooters. Early on, at the age of 16, he realised his childhood dreams of
adventure and freedom by putting the backroads of France under the wheels
of his Kreidler Florett moped and travelled all the way to Spain. Since
then, travel and the sea have had a lifelong hold on him. A tireless
two-wheel enthusiast, this passion led him to have his travel photos
published while still a student. Since the 1980s, he has been active as a
freelance journalist in offroad and outdoor media, and has won numerous
prizes for his photography. Most recently, as a recognised Vespa
authority, Gunther co-authored the latest edition of the classic work on
the same topic as this book, Vespa mi' amore. Gunther originally trained
as a surgeon, however as the author of numerous travelogues and photo
articles he is equally adept with scalpel or screwdriver. - See more at: