Piaggio Vespa

Vespa logo
First Vespa logo
First prototype name: "MP5" ("Moto Piaggio 5", 1944)

First prototype nickname: "Paperino"

Second prototype name: "MP6" ("Moto Piaggio 6", 1945)

First model name: "Vespa 98" (1946)

Category: Motorcycles

Subcategory: Scooter

Prototype designers: Renzo Spolti, Vittorio Casini

First model designer: Corradino D'Ascanio

Producer: Piaggio & Co. S.p.A. (founded by Rinaldo Piaggio on January 24, 1884)

Prototype made in: 1944 - Biella, Piedmont, Italy

Production start: April 23, 1946Pontedera (Pisa), Tuscany, Italy

First price: 55,000 ITL

Prototype features: The inspiration for the design of the Vespa dates back to Pre-World War II 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. Motorcycle with bodywork fully enclosing the drivetrain and forming a tall splash guard at the front.
The MP5 "Paperino" prototype, in addition to the bodywork, included handlebar-mounted controls, forced air cooling, wheels of small diameter, and a tall central section that had to be straddled. A single-cylinder, two-stroke engine. Engine size: 98 cc. Continuous speed-variator gearbox. Chain transmission. Wheels: 4.00-10".
The MP6 prototype was presented in September 1945 to Enrico Piaggio, who exclaimed: «It looks like a wasp [Vespa]!». The absence of the engine cooling fan, the brake lever on the left side instead of the right, the horn under the saddle, the footboard’s aluminium laths, and the aeronautical symbol on the front shield are the most important differences between the MP6 and the future versions of the Vespa.

First model features: The motoleggera utilitaria Vespa, or light motorised runabout. The leg shield sported the new Piaggio logo, which replaced the former aeronautical emblem. 2-stroke single cylinder engine. Horizontal cast iron cylinder with press-fit light alloy head. Bore: 50 mm. Stroke: 50 mm. Capacity: 98 cc. Top speed: 60 km/h. Suspension: elastic, with spiral steel springs on the front wheel, and rubber buffers for the rear wheel and engine. Brakes: of the expansion type. Handbrake on the right side of the handlebar for the front wheel, and pedal on the right side of the floor for the rear wheel. Wheels: 3.50-8".

Interesting facts: The first 13 examples appeared in spring 1946; following its public debut at the Milan Fair, the first fifty sold slowly. With the introduction of payment by installments, sales took off.

Slogan (1950): «Vespizzatevi!» ("Vespa yourselves!")

Property: Piaggio & Co. S.p.A.

Official website: https://www.vespa.com

Piaggio MP5 Paperino - right
Piaggio MP5 Paperino - left
Piaggio MP5 ("Paperino"), the first prototype of Vespa scooter (1944)

Piaggio MP6 scooter
Piaggio MP6, the second prototype of Vespa scooter (1945)

Vespa 98 - left
Vespa 98 - right
Vespa 98, the first model of Vespa scooter (1946)

Vespa 98 patent
Vespa, figure from Patent (Dec. 27, 1949, filed June 19, 1947) granted to Corradino D'Ascanio

Vespa 98 debut 1946
Vespa debut (Acquasanta Golf Club, Rome, March 29, 1946). The picture, taken on March 30, shows Luigi Di Gennaro (holding the handlebars) - dealer Piaggio and famous motorcycle racer, and Piaggio mechanic Guido Galbani (on the left).

Vespa, first newspaper ad 1946
Vespa, first newspaper advertisement (March 30, 1946)

Vespa ad April 10, 1946
Vespa advertisement (Motociclismo magazine, cover, April 10, 1946)

Vespa ad April 25, 1946
Vespa advertisement (Motociclismo magazine, April 25, 1946)

Vespa ad 1946
Vespa brochure (1946), art by Alessandro Martelli

Vespa postcard 1951
Vespa postcard (1951) by Giuseppe Lang, Genova, Italy. "Vespizzatevi!" (Vespa yourselves!)

Vespa advertising 1954
Vespa French advertising (1954) by Villemot. "Ne courrez plus... roulez Vespa... roulez Vespa" (Don't run more... ride Vespa... ride Vespa)

Vespa advertising 1955
Vespa French poster (1955) by Raymond Savignac

Corradino D'Ascanio
Corradino D'Ascanio (Popoli, Feb. 1, 1891 - Pisa, Aug. 6, 1981), the Italian aeronautical engineer who designed the first production helicopter and the first Vespa scooter

Piaggio Vespa 75th Anniversary 1946-2021
Vespa 75th. Piaggio celebrate the 75th Anniversary of their iconic Italian scooter (April 23, 1946-2021) with a limited edition available only during 2021 for Vespa Primavera in the 50, 125 and 150 cc displacements and for the Vespa GTS in the 300 cc displacement.