Vintage Ads and Celebrities’ Glamour on These Classic Vespa Scooters
The Vespa scooter, a symbol of style and functionality, was born in 1946 in post-war Italy out of a desperate need for affordable and efficient transport.
The conception was driven by Piaggio, inspired by the aeronautical designs of Corradino D’Ascanio. The Vespa’s innovative design consists of a painted, pressed steel unibody and a distinctive flat floorboard.
The initial model, known as MP5 and nicknamed “Paperino,” had a tall central section that Piaggio found displeasing, leading to the commissioning of D’Ascanio for a redesign. D’Ascanio’s design featured an engine mounted next to the rear wheel, removing the drive chain and therefore, the associated oil and dirt. His design, officially known as MP6, led to the creation of the step-through design.
Upon first sight of MP6, Enrico Piaggio noted, “It looks like a wasp!”, thereby christening the scooter ‘Vespa.’ Sales for the Vespa increased rapidly, with Hollywood playing a significant promotional role. Celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Charlton Heston were seen with Vespa scooters, boosting its sales and popularity.
By the 1960s, the Vespa had grown to symbolize freedom and imagination and, despite changing times, remains a coveted symbol of elegance and practicality. The design, mostly unchanged, continues to captivate admirers, with vintage Vespas commanding high prices at auctions.