1944, Piaggio engineers Renzo Spolti és Vittorio Casini designed a motorcycle with bodywork fully enclosing the drive train and forming a tall splash guard at the front. In addition to the bodywork, the design included handlebar-mounted controls, forced air cooling, wheels of small diameter, and a tall central section that had to be straddled. Officially known as the MP5 (“Moto Piaggio no. 5”), the prototype was nicknamed “Paperino” (either “duckling” or “Donald Duck” olaszul. Piaggio was displeased with the MP5, especially the tall central section. He contracted aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, to redesign the scooter D’Ascanio, who had earlier been consulted by Ferdinando Innocenti about scooter design and manufacture, made it immediately known that he hated motorcycles, believing them to be bulky, dirty, and unreliable
Upon seeing the MP6 for the first time, Enrico Piaggio exclaimed: “Sembra una vespa!” (“It resembles a wasp!”) Piaggio effectively named his new scooter on the spot Vespa is both Latin and Italian for wasp—derived from the vehicle’s body shape: The thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembled antennae.
The biggest sales promo ever was Hollywood. In 1952, Audrey Hepburn side-saddled Gregory Peck’s Vespa in the feature film Roman Holiday for a ride through Rome, resulting in over 100,000 sales. In 1956, John Wayne dismounted his horse in favor of the two-wheeler to originally get between takes on sets. as well as Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and the entertainer Abbe Lane had become Vespa owners. William Wyler filmed Ben Hur in Rome in 1959, allowing Charlton Heston to abandon horse and chariot between takes to take a spin on the Vespa.
Vespa clubs popped up throughout Europe, and by 1952, worldwide Vespa Club membership had surpassed 50,000. By the mid-1950s, Vespas were being manufactured under licence in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain; in the 1960s, production was started in India, Brazil and Indonesia. By 1956, one million had been sold, then two million by 1960. By the 1960s, Great Britain the Vespa—originally conceived as a utility vehicle—had come to symbolize freedom and imagination, and resulted in further sales boosts: four million by 1970, and ten million by the late 1980s.
Near Münich at Lake Starnberg I discovered a café house which was devoted to Vespressi fans! The hot chocoshino was divine over there! I’ll certainly return to that place with friends soon!