Viva Vespa

Low-key, Zippy, and Fun

All About he history of Vespa

Viva Vespa... Fun, Fun, Fun!

The 40’s era motorbike manages to stay cool by being just what it is… Fun. Here are a few fun facts about te origin of the Vespa.

  • Cushman Scooters were an inspiration to the design
  • It was designed by an aeronautical engineer
  • Vespa means wasp

Aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio was the man commissioned to design the original Vespa. D’Ascanio couldn’t stand motorbikes, which may explain why the Vespa looks the way that it does.

The inspiration for the design of the Vespa dates back to Pre-WWII Cushman scooters made in Nebraska, USA. These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by Washington as field transport for the Paratroops and Marines. The US military had used them to get around Nazi defense tactics of destroying roads and bridges in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.

It’s essentially a two-wheeled form of transportation without the noise and the exposed engine. The Vespa was designed to lend itself to Italy’s unique post-war social climate.

The zippy engine and little wheels help you nip through back alleys and traffic jams. The splashguard stops your stylish trousers from getting speckled with mud in the winter; the nice comfy seat prevents chaffed buttocks. Buy the optional windshield and your hair stays bug-free for an evening at the jazz club… Ahhh, The Italian Lifestyle!

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 — now Europe’s largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles and the world’s fourth largest motorcycle manufacturer by unit sales.

Vespa History - MP5 Donald Duck

MP5 Donald Duck

The first prototype was given the initials MP5 (MP standing for MotorPiaggio) and baptized “Paperino,” the Italian name for Donald Duck, a nick-name given to it by the workers because of the strange shape it had. Enrico Piaggio did not like the design and asked D’Ascanio to redesign it – which he did with a more aeronautical-derived aerodynamic look.

When the second prototype called MP6, was shown to Enrico Piaggio and he heard the buzzing sound of the engine he exclaimed: “Sembra una vespa!” (“It resembles a wasp!”) The name stuck.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines 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) — into a structural unit as well as a singularly endearing and enduring shape.

As the first globally successful scooter, the Vespa has enjoyed prominence in popular culture and has come to symbolize stylish personal transportation.

With its elegant lines and classic aesthetics, the Vespa is recognized as the epitome of Italian design.


In recent years, many urban commuters have purchased new or restored Vespas. A shortage of available parking for automobiles in large urban areas and the Vespa’s low running costs are two reasons for the increase in Vespa (and other scooter) popularity. The cultural use of the scooter as a recreational vehicle with a sub-cultural following in the USA/Canada and parts of Europe & Japan has also contributed to the rise in Vespa ownership.

In contrast, the Vespa is considered a utilitarian vehicle for hauling products and sometimes up to 5 family members in much of Asia and Mexico.

Web Traffic – A shout out to – Thanks for the traffic.


~ by scooterleathers on January 4, 2009.

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