Over seventy three years of history(Piaggio registered its patent on 23
April 1946) and with more than 18
million vehicles taking to the streets across five continents, Vespa has
given the entire world a new gear, spreading as it has across the world's
roads, uniting youngsters from very differing and distant cultures in their
unique passion. The first truly global mobility brand, Vespa has become a
common thread between generations, interacting with social environments at
opposite ends of the spectrum, generating various cultural phenomena particular
to the different settings in which it has found itself, to the point of
becoming a protagonist and a distinctive trait. It has led fashion, music and
It has accompanied countries and continents in their growth. It has sped them along in phases of economic well-being.
Now that it celebrates this wonderful milestone, Vespa is experiencing one of the happiest moments of its long life.
Since 2004, when 58,000 vehicles were produced, the growth of the Vespa brand has been spectacular. Numbers reached 100,000 in 2006, before climbing to 180,000 in 2017 and then setting a record of more than 210,000 in 2018.
In the last decade, more than 1,600,000 new Vespa vehicles have taken to the world's streets.
Today, Vespa is a more global brand than ever before, a real citizen of the world, produced at three production sites: Pontedera where Vespas have been built, uninterruptedly, since 1946, the vehicles destined for Europe and Western markets, the Americas included; Vinh Phuc, in Vietnam, which serves the local market and the Far East, and India, at the new Baramati factory, opened in April 2012 and responsible for producing Vespas for the Indian market.
Vespa, in the various eras it has seen, has always represented the cutting-edge of technology. Characterised by an extremely advanced bearing body concept, built entirely out of steel, Vespa marked the evolution of individual mobility. Today, the latest Vespa vehicles, equipped with engines and technical solutions to support modern riding, represent the style synthesis of an evolution that has made Vespa design immortal, ensuring it is an icon of Italian elegance the world over.
Vespa Primavera - Youthful, innovative, technologically ground-breaking, agile and dynamic, with an eye to the protection of the environment of which it is the star, the Vespa Primavera (in its 50, 125 and 150cc versions) is a protagonist of its time, inheriting all the freshness and joy of life that marks the history of a model that is a legendary element of the Vespa family tree.
Vespa Sprint continues the tradition of vitality and youthfulness. It was designed as the evolution of the recent Vespa Primavera project (from which it adopts its engines), aimed at kids of all ages and highlighting the sporty features conjured up by its name, legendary by birth. It was created with a small and lightweight but practical and protective body, all in steel and is characterised by its youthful line, marked by a bold rectangular rear light and large 12” tyres, with spectacular aluminium alloy wheels.
Vespa GTS, the so-called "Vespone" for its large chassis, is the fastest, sportiest and most enjoyable Vespa in the range, perfect for urban usage thanks to its handling and the performance of the liquid-cooled 125, 150 and 300cc 4T engines, but also for trips out of town, alone or with a passenger on board. The new GTS range, launched in 2019 and comprising Vespa GTS, GTS Super, GTS SuperSport and Touring, offers a new 300 HPE engine, the most powerful ever adopted by Vespa, sophisticated style details and a comprehensive series of modern equipment that includes the ABS braking system and ASR traction control, exclusive, cutting-edge Piaggio Group technology that contributes to making Vespa GTS safer and more enjoyable to ride in all conditions.
Presented in its definitive version at EICMA 2017 and on sale since November 2018, Vespa Elettrica is a contemporary work of art with a technological heart that is set to change the mobility landscape. It is not an electric scooter, it is Vespa Elettrica. Completely silent and easy to ride, and produced entirely in Pontedera, it goes beyond the electric scooter concept, representing the revolutionary and contemporary soul of a brand that has always been ahead of its time, consistently at the cutting edge in terms of style and technology, while also remaining faithful to its values.
Vespa Elettrica is not just a silent, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced vehicle; it is also highly connected: the numerous functions offered by Vespa MIA, the multimedia system that allows a smartphone to be connected to the vehicle, can be managed via an innovative human-machine interface that incorporates digital instruments and a colour TFT display. Electric mobility has never been so fascinating, stylish and elegant:
Collaboration between the Piaggio Group and (RED) has led to the (VESPA 946) RED that is entirely dressed in red and contributes to the programmes to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria launched by (RED), an association founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver and that has contributed hundreds of millions of US dollars to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. The (VESPA 946) RED has been designed with elegance and style in order to show sensitivity to this serious problem. It represents an opportunity to join the battle against some of the most difficult challenges humankind must face.
(VESPA 946) RED is the latest Vespa 946, a highly exclusive model dedicated to aesthetic and technological perfection, the name of which recalls the year that Vespa – the ultimate symbol of Italian elegance – was born: 1946. Artisan yet futuristic at the same time, the Vespa 946 both harks back to our magnificent past and rewrites its aesthetics afresh in meticulous attention to detail and deep respect for the environment. (VESPA 946) RED represents the new chapter in an incredible story of beauty, enthusiasm, diligence and sensitivity.
VESPA: THE ORIGINS
Founded in Genoa in 1884 by
twenty-year-old Rinaldo Piaggio, Piaggio initially undertook luxury ship
fitting before going on to produce rail carriages, goods vans, luxury coaches
and engines, trams and special truck bodies. World War I brought a new
diversification that was to distinguish Piaggio activities for many decades.
The company started producing aeroplanes and seaplanes. At the same time, new
plants were springing up. In 1917 Piaggio bought a new plant in Pisa, and four
years later it took over a small plant in Pontedera which first became the
centre of aeronautical production (propellers, engines and complete aircraft,
including the state-of-the-art Piaggio P108 in passenger and bomber versions).
Before and during World War II, Piaggio was one of Italy’s top aircraft
manufacturers. For this reason, its plants were important military targets and
the Piaggio factories in Genoa, Finale Ligure and Pontedera were irrevocably
damaged by the war.
Rinaldo Piaggio’s sons Enrico and Armando began the process of re-starting industrial production immediately after the war. The hardest task went to Enrico, who was responsible for the destroyed Pontedera plant. He arranged for part of the machinery transferred to Biella in Piedmont to be brought back. Enrico Piaggio opted for an industrial reconversion, focusing on personal mobility in a country emerging from war. He gave shape to his intuition, building a vehicle destined to become extremely famous, thanks to the extraordinary design work of the aeronautical engineer and inventor Corradino D’Ascanio (1891-1981).
The Birth of a Legend
The Vespa (which means “wasp” in Italian) was the result of Enrico Piaggio’s determination to create a low cost product for the masses. As the war drew to a close, Enrico studied every possible solution to get production in his plants going again — starting from Biella, where a motor scooter was produced, based on a small motorcycle made for parachutists.
The prototype, known as MP5, was nicknamed “Paperino” (the Italian name for Donald Duck) due to its strange shape, but Enrico Piaggio did not like it, and he asked Corradino D’Ascanio to redesign it. The aeronautical designer did not like motorcycles. He found them uncomfortable and bulky, with wheels that were difficult to change after a puncture. Worse still, the drive chain made them dirty. However, his aeronautical experience found the answer to every problem. To eliminate the chain he imagined a vehicle with a stress-bearing body and direct mesh; to make it easier to ride, he put the gear lever on the handlebar; to make tyre changing easier he designed not a fork, but a supporting arm similar to an aircraft carriage. Finally, he designed a body that would protect the driver so that he would not get dirty or dishevelled. Decades before the spread of ergonomic studies, the riding position of the Vespa was designed to let the rider sit comfortably and safely, not balanced dangerously as on a high-wheel motorcycle.
Corradino D’Ascanio’s drawings had nothing to do with the Paperino: his design was absolutely original and revolutionary compared to all the other existing means of two-wheeled transport. With the help of Mario D’Este, his trusted designer, it would only take Corradino D’Ascanio a few days to fine tune his idea and prepare the first Vespa project, manufactured in Pontedera in April of 1946. Enrico Piaggio himself named the scooter. Standing in front of the MP6 prototype, with its wide central part where the rider sit and the “narrow” waist, he exclaimed: “It looks like a wasp!” And so the Vespa was born.
The Vespa Patent
On 23 April 1946 Piaggio & C. S.p.A. filed a patent with the Central Patents Office for inventions, models and brand names at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Florence, for “a motorcycle with a rational complex of organs and elements with body combined with the mudguards and bonnet covering all the mechanical parts”.
Enrico Piaggio did not hesitate to launch factory production of two thousand units of the first Vespa 98cc. The public début of the new vehicle was held at the prestigious Rome Golf Club with the American General Stone of the allied government attending. The event was filmed by the American newsreel Movieton: Italians saw the Vespa for the first time in the pages of Motor (March 24, 1946) and on the black and white cover of La Moto on April 15, 1946. They saw the actual vehicle at that year’s Milan show, where even Cardinal Schuster stopped to take a look, intrigued by the futuristic vehicle.
scepticism to “miracle”
Two versions of the Vespa 98cc went on sale with two prices: 55,000 lira for the “normal” version and 61,000 lira for the “luxury” version with a few optionals including a speedometer, lateral stand and stylish white-trim tyres. Manufacturers and market experts were divided: on one side the people who saw the Vespa as the realisation of a brilliant idea, and on the other the sceptics, who were soon to change their minds.
In the last months of 1947 production began to explode and the following year the Vespa 125 appeared, a larger model that was soon firmly established as the successor to the first Vespa 98. The Vespa “miracle” had become reality, and output grew constantly; in 1946, Piaggio put 2,484 scooters on the market. These became 10,535 the following year, and by 1948 production had reached 19,822. When in 1950 the first German licensee also started production, output topped 60,000 vehicles, and just three years later 171,200 vehicles left the plants.
Foreign markets also watched the birth of the scooter with interest, and both the public and the press expressed curiosity and admiration. The Times called it “a completely Italian product, such as we have not seen since the Roman chariot". Enrico Piaggio used his tenacity to push the Vespa brand abroad, setting up a comprehensive sales network across Europe and the world. He maintained constant attention and growing interest around his product, with a number of initiatives that included the foundation and spread of the Vespa Clubs.
The Vespa became the Piaggio product par excellence, while Enrico personally tested prototypes and new models. His business prospects transcended national frontiers and by 1953, thanks to his untiring determination, there were more than ten thousand Piaggio service points throughout the world, including America and Asia. By then the Vespa Clubs counted over 50,000 members, all opposed to the “newborn” Lambretta Innocenti. No less than twenty thousand Vespa enthusiasts turned up at the Italian “Vespa Day” in 1951. Riding a Vespa was synonymous with freedom, with agile exploitation of space and with easier social relationships. The new scooter had become the symbol of a lifestyle that left its mark on its age: in the cinema, in literature and in advertising, the Vespa appeared endlessly among the most significant symbols of a changing society.
In 1950, just four years after its début, the Vespa was manufactured in Germany by Hoffman-Werke of Lintorf; the following year licensees opened in Great Britain (Douglas of Bristol) and France (ACMA of Paris); production began in Spain in 1953 at Moto Vespa S.A. of Madrid, founded on 1952, now Piaggio España, followed immediately by Jette, outside Brussels. Plants sprang up in Bombay and Brazil; the Vespa reached the USA, and its enormous popularity drew the attention of the Reader’s Digest, which wrote a long article about it. But that magical period was only the beginning. Soon the Vespa was produced in 13 countries and marketed in 114, including Australia, South Africa (where it was known as the “Bromponie”, or moor pony), Iran and China. And it was copied: on June 9, 1957, Izvestia reported the start of production in Kirov, in the USSR, of the Viatka 150cc, an almost perfect clone of the Vespa. Piaggio had begun very early on to extend its range into the light transport sector. In 1948, soon after the birth of the Vespa, production of the three-wheeler Ape van (the Italian for “bee”) derived from the scooter began, and the vehicle was an immediate success for its many possible uses.
Numerous imaginative versions of the Vespa appeared, some from Piaggio itself, but mainly from enthusiasts - The Vespa-Sidecar for example, or even the '67“Vespa-Alpha” that - created with Alpha-Wallis for agent Dick Smart, the star of a 007-style spy film - could not only race on the road, but also fly, sail and go underwater. The French army had a few Vespa models built specially to carry arms and bazookas, and others that could be parachuted together with the troops. Even the Italian army asked Piaggio for a parachutable scooter in 1963.
produced in more than 18 million units
Vespa has been copied and imitated in thousands of ways: but the uniqueness of the vehicle ensured Piaggio a very long period of success, so much so that in November 1953, the 500,000th unit left the line, followed by the one millionth in June 1956. In 1960 the Vespa passed the two million mark, before hitting 4 million in 1970, and then exceeding 10 million in 1988, making Vespa – which has now produced well over 18 million vehicles – a unique phenomenon in the motorised two-wheel sector.
The boom of the Vespa, and the different business prospects of the Piaggio brothers, with Enrico concentrating on light individual mobility in Tuscany and Armando on the aeronautical business in Liguria, led the company to split. On February 22, 1964, Enrico Piaggio acquired the share in Piaggio & C. S.p.A. held by his brother Armando, who went on to found “Rinaldo Piaggio Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche” (I.A.M. Rinaldo Piaggio). The Vespa 50 had appeared the previous year, 1963, following the introduction of a law in Italy making a number plate obligatory on two-wheelers over 50cc.
The new scooter was exempt from this law and was an immediate success.
In Italy, sales of vehicles with number plates decreased by 28 per cent in 1965 compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the Vespa, with its new “50” series, was a great success. The light Vespa was a successful addition to the Piaggio range and this displacement is still in production. To date almost 3,500,000 Vespa 50s have been built in different models and versions. The Vespa ET4 50, launched in autumn 2000 (and replaced in 2005 by the Vespa LX) was the first four stroke Vespa 50cc, and established a record distance range: of over 500 km with a full tank.
The story of the Vespa PX is truly unique and exceptional in the "two wheeled" world as the single most successful model in the entire history of the Vespa: created in 1977 and still in production in the 125 and 150cc versions, to the joy of its faithful supporters, it has exceeded three million units sold.
In 1996, the fiftieth anniversary year of the most famous scooter in the world, the Vespa ET4 and ET2 range was created. The ET4 was the first Vespa in history powered by a 4-stroke engine. There was another twist to the unending story of the Vespa in 2003 with the launch of the Granturismo 200L and 125L: with these two models, Vespa reached unprecedented size and power levels. In 2005 two new and very significant products were added to the range: the Vespa LX (50, 125 and 150) replaced the Vespa ET (over 460,000 units sold since 1996) while, 50 years after the launch of the legendary Vespa GS Gran Sport, the Vespa GTS 250 i.e. took over as the fastest, most powerful and high-tech Vespa ever. It was powered by a cutting-edge, extremely powerful 250cc four-valve, liquid cooled engine with electronic injection.
Three exclusive models were presented to celebrate Vespa’s 60th anniversary in 2006, interpreting the original Vespa look in a modern, elegant way. These were the Vespa GTV, Vespa LXV and Vespa GT 60°. 2007 was the year of the Vespa S: elegantly inspired by the lines of 1970s models, the Vespa S was the new millennium heir to the legendary 50 Special and 125 Primavera. In May 2008 the Vespa GTS 300 Super arrived: the 145th model, GTS 300 Super was once again the highest performing Vespa with the largest engine ever manufactured.
Spring 2012 saw the introduction of a significant new engine into the small LX/S series. A brand-new 125/150 single-cylinder, three valve engine with electronic injection that set new standards, able to cover 55 km with one litre of fuel and lowering its CO2 emissions by 30%. A cutting-edge unit, designed, developed and produced exclusively in Pontedera, that also equips the Vespa 946, the Vespa that represents the future.
Vespa 946, presented at the 2012 EICMA show in Milan, opened a window on the future of style and technology. The Vespa 946 unveils a possible future with a tribute to its forefather, the MP6 prototype that would give way to the world's most famous scooter, an unrivalled example of Italian style and creativity. Distilling that most pure essence of the traits which indelibly marked the aesthetics of individual mobility and enhancing the lines which made it famous, the Pontedera Style Centre projects Vespa into a possible future where citations and projections, tradition and innovation, blend without solutions of continuity.
sports and long distance travel: around the world with the Vespa
The Vespa also has a racing career behind it. In Europe back in the Fifties, it took part, often successfully, in regular motorcycle races (speed and off-road), as well as unusual sporting ventures.
In 1952 the Frenchman Georges Monneret built an “amphibious Vespa” for the Paris-London race and successfully crossed the Channel on it. The previous year Piaggio itself had built a Vespa 125cc prototype for speed racing, and it set the world speed record for a flying kilometre at an average of 171.102 km/h.
The Vespa also scored a great success at the 1951 “International 6 Days” in Varese, winning 9 gold medals, the best of the Italian motorcycles. That same year saw the first of innumerable rallies with the Vespa: an expedition to the Congo, which was to be the first of a series of incredible journeys on a scooter that was intended primarily to solve the problems of urban and intercity traffic.
Giancarlo Tironi, an Italian University student, reached the Arctic Circle on a Vespa. The Argentine Carlos Velez crossed the Andes from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Chile. Year after year, the Vespa gained popularity among adventure holiday enthusiasts: Roberto Patrignani rode one from Milan to Tokyo; Soren Nielsen in Greenland; James P. Owen from the USA to Tierra del Fuego; Santiago Guillen and Antonio Veciana from Madrid to Athens (for the occasion their Vespa was decorated personally by Salvador Dalì and it is on exhibit to this day in the Piaggio Museum); Wally Bergen on a grand tour of the Antilles; the Italians Valenti and Rivadulla in a tour of Spain; Miss Warral from London to Australia and back; the Australian Geoff Dean took one on a round-the-world tour.
Pierre Delliere, Sergeant in the French Air Force, reached Saigon in 51 days from Paris, going through Afghanistan. Swiss rider Giuseppe Morandi rode 6,000 km, mostly across the African desert, on a Vespa he had bought in 1948. Ennio Carrega went from Genoa to Lapponia and back in just 12 days. Two Danish journalists Elizabeth and Erik Thrane, a brother and sister, reached Bombay on a Vespa. And it is impossible to count the many European scooter riders who have reached the North Cape on their Vespas.
Few know that in 1980, two Vespa PX 200s ridden by M. Simonot and B. Tcherniawsky reached the finishing line of the second Paris-Dakar rally. The squad, which was French and organised by Jean-François Piot, was assisted by four-time winner of the Le Mans 24-hours, Henri Pescarolo.
The Vespa continued to travel: in July 1992 Giorgio Bettinelli, writer and journalist, left Rome on a Vespa and reached Saigon in March 1993. In 1994-95 he rode a Vespa 36,000 km from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In 1995-96 he travelled from Melbourne to Cape Town - over 52,000 km in 12 months. In 1997 he started out from Chile, reaching Tasmania after three years and eight months, having travelled 144,000 km on his Vespa and crossed 90 countries across the Americas, Siberia, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. All in all, Bettinelli has travelled 250,000 km on a Vespa.
Vespa Dolce Vita
But the Vespa isn't just a market phenomenon. It is an event that involves the history of tradition. In the "Dolce Vita" years, the Vespa became a synonym for scooter, foreign reporters described Italy as "the country of the Vespa" and the Vespa's role in social history, not just in Italy but abroad, can be seen from its presence in hundreds of films. And it's a story that continues to be told today.
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953) were just the first in a long series of international actors who, over the years, have been filmed on the world's most famous scooter, in films from Quadrophenia to American Graffiti, from The Talented Mr. Ripley to 102 Dalmations, not to mention Caro Diario or the recent Alfie with Jude Law, The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman and the Transformers blockbuster. In photo shoots, films and on set, the Vespa has been a "travel companion" for the likes of Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, Geraldine Chaplin, Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield, Virna Lisi, Milla Jovovich, Marcello Mastroianni, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Anthony Perkins, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Nanni Moretti, Sting, Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Gérard Depardieu, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.
- SEVENTY-THREE YEARS OF VESPA: THE MODELS THAT HAVE MADE HISTORY
From the first Vespa of 1946, with its 98cc, to the Granturismo of 2003, the Vespa GTS 300 Super of 2008, to the very recent GTV and LXV special series, all the way up to the Vespa 946 that debuted on 8 November 2011 at EICMA, the 69th Motorcycle Show in Milan: there are more than 150 different models, versions and variations of the Vespa – identifiable by different "chassis codes" – manufactured by Piaggio. These vehicles trace the technical evolution of the world’s most famous scooter: By the time the Vespa ET4 was launched in 1996, over 20,000 modifications had been made to the original product and over 1,500 parts replaced.
It is difficult to select the most representative Vespa scooters with product evolution spanning more than sixty years. Some Vespas are sought after by collectors because they belong to a special series, or because they were rapidly replaced by subsequent versions, and are highly priced in the period scooter market, which is extremely active all over the world. Others, which were produced in greater numbers or stayed on the market longer, are classic models that have left their mark in the history of two-wheeled mobility.
There is no lack of authentic technical records in the Vespa’s history, each of which renews the tradition of innovation that has marked the evolution of the world’s best selling scooter. To cite only a few examples: with the Vespa ET2 Injection in 1997, Piaggio launched the first direct injection two stroke engine in history, a technical first it doubled in 2000 with the launch of the first European 50cc four stroke engine on the Vespa ET4 50. In 2005, with the Vespa GTS, Piaggio launched the first scooter in the world to have a 250cc Euro 3 compatible engine with electronic injection.
Vespa 98, 1946 - The first Vespa. It was equipped with a 98cc engine that delivered 3.2 hp at 4500 rpm for a speed of 60 km/h. It was in production for two years: in 1946 vehicles no. 1 to no. 2,464 were produced, in ‘47 those from no. 2,465 to 18,079.
Vespa 125, 1948 - The first 125cc Vespa. It differed from the 98 not only in terms of its engine capacity, but also for the introduction of rear suspension; the front suspension was also modified. Vespa 125, 1953 - It showcased a first, significant development regarding the engine, the bore, stroke and timing gear all modified. Its power was increased (5 hp at 5000 rpm) and it had a maximum speed of 75 km/h. The rear section of the fairing featured a new design.
125 “U”, 1953 - Characterised by its austere
aesthetic, this was the “utility” version, sold for 20,000 lira 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 - Defined by experts as “the most highly-appreciated, imitated and best remembered model”. There were numerous innovations: the 150cc engine, 4-speed gearbox, standard long saddle, handlebar-headlamp unit with "fairing", and wheels with 10” tyres. This Vespa could reach 100 km/h. The design also changed, with a much more aerodynamic body. Vespa 160 GS, 1962 - Created to continue the commercial success of the first GS, it boasted a completely new design.
The exhaust silencer, carburettor and suspension were also new. The power output was 8.2 hp at 6500 rpm. Vespa 150 GL, 1963 - Another new design for what was defined “one of the most beautiful Vespas to be created by the Piaggio designers”. The handlebar, trapezoid headlamp, front mudguard and trimmed-down rear lids were all new.
Vespa 50, 1964 - The first 50cc Vespa. Born to satisfy new Italian Highway Code standards, which called for vehicles with a larger engine capacity to have a number plate. Extremely versatile and reliable, the engine featured a new layout, with the cylinder inclined 45° instead of horizontal. This would be Corradino D’Ascanio's last project.
Vespa 180 SS, 1965 - Representing a new standard in terms of engine capacity growth (181,14cc), it could reach 105 km/h thanks to its 10 hp. The 180 SS (Super Sport) replaced the glorious GS 150/160cc. 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 was radically innovative in its design, frame, engine (angled at 45°) and suspension.
Vespa Super Sprint 90, 1966 - A special series deriving from the Vespa 50/90cc and the "new 125", it was characterised by a top box located between the seat and the steering column to encourage an extended riding position. The handlebar was narrow and low, and the mudguard and cowling were streamlined. With an engine capacity of only 90cc, it could reach 93 km/h.
Vespa 125 Primavera, 1968 - Together with the subsequent PX, this was the most enduring of the Vespa models. It derived from the “new” 125, but with considerable differences in the engine, which raised the top speed by 10 km/h. There was great attention to detail, finishes including the classic and very practical bag hook.
Vespa 180 Rally, 1968 - With this new vehicle, Piaggio extended the rotary admission system to its entire production range. The engine was new, the front headlamp new and more powerful, the frame, derived from the Vespa 150 Sprint, narrower and more aerodynamic than that of the Super Sport.
Vespa 50 Elestart, 1970 - The model featured an electronic ignition, an important new feature, but its design was also overhauled and enriched with respect to the 50 Special.
Vespa 200 Rally, 1972 - Piaggio achieved a new personal best in terms of Vespa engine capacity. This model, boasting 12.35 hp at 5700 rpm, could reach 116 km/h. Vespa 125Primavera ET3, 1976 - The acronym stood for“3 port electronics”, and marked an important change to the engine, more powerful and peppy. Even the styling was changed from the standard Primavera (which remained in the range). Vespa P 125 X, 1978 - The “PX” represented another step forward in terms of aesthetics (the chassis was completely redesigned ) and performance. The top box was positioned behind the cowling. That same year, the P 200 E was also presented. With respect to the 125 version, this model could be equipped with separate lubrication and direction indicators incorporated in the body. Three years later, the PX 150 E was presented, a model offering intermediate performance between the two models. Vespa PK 125, 1983 - This replaced the Vespa Primavera (standard and ET3). 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 were integral. Vespa PK 50, 1983 - Essentially identical to the PK 125, it was presented in the two PK 50 and PK 50 S models, both with 4-speed gearbox and electronic ignition. Vespa PK 125 Automatica, 1984 – Automatic gearing was introduced by Vespa, perhaps the most radical change since 1946 (at least from the user's standpoint). The presence of the automatic transmission was emphasised by the absence of the foot brake, replaced by the lever on the left handlebar (which does not need to control the clutch, as it is automatic). It was also offered with an automatic oil-fuel mixer and electronic ignition. The following year the Vespa PK 50 Automatic was launched. Vespa T5 Pole Position, 1985 - The
PX series also had a "supersport" model in the T5. Featuring a new engine, aluminium cylinder and 5 intake ports, 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 made to the Italian Highway Code allowed 50cc models to clear the power limit of 1.5 hp, and Piaggio presented a new, more high-performance “vespino” (more than 2 hp at 5000 rpm), characterised by a brand new look with "softer" lines.
Vespa ET4 125, 1996 - The first Vespa with a 4-stroke engine, this was the “new generation” model launched to mark the company's fiftieth anniversary. In 1997 and 1998 it was Europe's best-selling two-wheeler of all those with a number plate (motorcycles included) and was followed up with the 50cc ET2 version and, in 1999, by the classic 150cc ET4.
Vespa ET4 50, 2000 -. The first Vespa 50 equipped with a 4-stroke engine and one that, thanks to the characteristics of said engine, was able to set a real autonomy record of over 500 km with a full tank. Vespa PX, 2001 - The timeless PX featured a front brake disc, careful aesthetic changes, new colours and the return of the "historic" Vespa logo, the model achieving extraordinary production figures, with three million units built and sold over its 30-year career. Revamped again in 2011, today it is available in the 125 and 150 versions. Vespa PX is an "evergreen", thanks in part to the 4 speed handlebar shift transmission and the possibility of installing a side spare tyre. Vespa
Granturismo 200L and 125L, 2003 - The Granturismo was the largest and most powerful Vespa produced up until that time. In its 200L and 125L versions, it marries Vespa’s emotional values with state-of-the-art technology: this was the first-ever Vespa to have sparkling four-stroke, four-valve, liquid-cooled engines that meet the new Euro 2 emissions standards, as well as 12-inch wheels and a two-disk brake system. The steel body is a uniquely Vespa touch. Vespa LX, 2005 - This marked the return, albeit with very modern aesthetics and technology, of the “vespino”, small-bodied model that flanked the larger "vespone" for more than 40 years. Vespa LX replaced the glorious Vespa ET (more than 460,000 units sold from 1996) and was available with four modern and environmentally-friendly engines, namely the 50cc two and four stroke, 125 and 150cc four stroke. Vespa GTS 250 i.e., 2005 - Fifty years after the launch of the Vespa GS (Gran Sport), the first sport scooter in history and still a sought after treasure for collectors and fans, Vespa GTS 250 i.e. renews the GS blend of speed and style to become the fastest, most powerful and most high-tech Vespa. From November 2011, Vespa GTS “grew” to the 300 class with an avant-grade, extremely powerful four-valve, liquid cooled engine with electronic injection. Vespa GTS is stopped with a superb double disc braking system.
Vespa GTV and LXV, 2006 – Conceived to celebrate an absolute legend in the world of two wheelers, the Vespa LXV and Vespa GTV repeat and reinterpret the most distinctive elements of ‘50s and ‘60s styling in form and function. The Vespa GTV, available with 125 and 250cc engines, stands out for its headlight mounted on the mudguard just as the original 1946 prototype. The Vespa LXV, offered with a choice of 50, 125 and 150cc engines, is inspired by the smooth, essential lines of the Vespas of the 1960s, and features a sleek, minimalist look characterised by open handlebars and a two part seat. Vespa GT 60°, 250cc, 2006 - The gift that Vespa wanted to offer its fans to celebrate its sixtieth birthday, this unique model featured refined materials and exclusive craftsmanship and was produced as a limited edition of just 999 units. It would become one of the cornerstone of Vespa history. Vespa S 50 and 125, 2007 - All the character of the sporty “Vespino” of yesteryear was revived with the brand new Vespa S. Its blend of styles and memories would keep the soul of the youngest and sportiest of all the Vespas alive. The Vespa S inherited its strictly minimalist looks from legendary 1970s models like the 50 Special and Vespa Primavera. Vespa GTS 300 Super, 2008 - Vespa GTS 300 Super brought exclusive Vespa elegance to the“over 250” class. The classic, unique Vespa style was combined with a distinctly sporty and modern personality, giving the clean Vespa lines a decidedly rugged look. With its sporty design, the Vespa GTS 300 Super embodied the style, comfort, safety and sturdiness of the Vespa brand.
Powered by a very modern and powerful 4-valve liquid-cooled engine and equipped with electronic injection, the Euro3 homologated Vespa GTS 300 Super stood out for the impressive elasticity and brilliance of its engine, which made it a real “traffic light-burner”. Vespa S 50 and Vespa LX 50 4 Valve, 2009 – The new 50cc, four stroke, four valve engine led to the rediscovery of a legendary engine size, a cornerstone of Vespa history. With new 4 valve timing, this brand new and feisty engine was the envy of its two-stroke counterparts (at 4.35 hp it was the most powerful 50cc four-stroke on the market), yet its consumption and emission figures remained those of a typical four-stroke. With this new engine, Vespa reconfirms a technological supremacy that has stood for over six decades.
Vespa LX 3V e Vespa S 3V – In June 2012, Vespa LX and Vespa S debuted a new engine, one that was in fact considered state of the art for its segment and ahead of its time in terms of both its excellent performance and minimal consumption and emission levels, able to cover 55km/l and reducing CO2 emissions by 30%. With its new and technologically advanced 125-150 3-valve 4T engine, Piaggio once again opened a window on the future of motoring technology. It is a single cylinder 4 stroke air cooled engine with 3 valves (2 intake and 1 exhaust) single overhead cam and electronic fuel injection. It was designed and built in the Pontedera plant, in some of the most advanced research & development centres in the world, with the goal of increasing performance and fuel economy and lowering polluting emissions.
Vespa GTS ABS ASR. In 2014, the Vespa GTS was updated, adopting the latest and most technologically-advanced electronic systems to support riding, namely the two-channel ABS braking system and ASR traction control. With this step, Vespa confirms its cutting-edge technological leadership which has always marked its history and makes it one of the most modern, advanced and safe vehicles on the road today.
The Vespa legend was born at
practically the same time as the vehicle, so much so that many were inspired,
from 1946 onwards, to share their passion for the Vespa. Thus the first Vespa Clubs were born, in Italy to
begin with and then abroad, leading eventually, in 2006, to the creation of the
Vespa World Club to coincide with
the Vespa’s 60th anniversary.
The grouping of Vespa fans was closely linked to Vespa sales on international markets: by 1953 there were over 10,000 Piaggio service stations worldwide, including in Asia and America, and over 50,000 fans were members of Vespa Clubs worldwide.
But ever since the 40s, Enrico Piaggio - supported by sports journalist Renato Tassinari - had organised conventions and bike meets, creating an atmosphere around Vespa that would grow with every kind of initiative, including the foundation and promotion of the Vespa Clubs, Vespa fan organisations that could not only promote the brand image but also document the effectiveness of the sales and support network.
At the Fiera Campionaria in Milan in 1948, Italian Vespa Clubs organised a rally called the “Silver Swarm” after the first Vespa model’s trademark silvery-green colour. The first large-scale bike meet and one that would bring extraordinary results. In 1951, 20,000 Vespa fans took part in the Italian Vespa Day. Throughout the 1950s, races of every kind were held, from regional and national rallies in Italy and abroad (the Swiss Tour, the 2,000 km Three Seas tour, the all-female Audax tour and the 1,000 km tour were among the best known rallies).
Riding a Vespa increasingly became synonymous with freedom, the use of space and easier social relations: in short, the Vespa became a social phenomenon that would mark an entire epoch and be pictured incessantly in films, literature and advertising campaigns for many products as well as in the behaviour of a changing society that was keen to leave the destruction of World War II behind.
The Vespa Club Europe was set up in Milan on 8 February 1953 on the initiative of Renato Tassinari, with unanimous support from delegates representing the Vespa Clubs of Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland, to co-ordinate and develop relations, events and links among Vespa fans in individual countries.
Two months after the creation of the Vespa Club Europe, Austria, Denmark, the U.K., Portugal, Spain and Sweden joined the founding members. Subsequently, the Vespa Club Mondial was set up and, together with the Vespa Club Europe, came to be named Fédération Internationale des Vespa Clubs (disbanded on 30 November 2005).
Finally, on 14 March 2006, the Vespa World Club was set up to co-ordinate and promote all the Vespa clubs in the world.
Piaggio promoted the setting up of this new association, whose objective is to draw on the finest experiences and initiatives created by Vespa fans in various countries, enhance the role of national associations and support all Vespa Clubs. As of now, there are 49 National Vespa Clubs with 82,000 members worldwide. It is impossible to calculate the number of Vespa enthusiasts, or the Internet web pages dedicated to the most popular and famous scooter in the world. Each year, the national Vespa Clubs and fans from all over the world come together for the Vespa World Days.