c.1962 Vespa 150cc Scooter
The name Vespa when translated, means wasp and this label was applied by Enrico Piaggio to his scooters when they first appeared in 1942, both for their appearance and the buzzing noise of the two-stroke engine. Production of the Vespa was soon in full swing, capitalising on the post-war economic boom in Italy and sales had surpassed the million mark by 1956. Although the basic design remained intact, constant development saw the Vespa evolve over the years and major changes included more powerful engines along with revisions to the styling. As the Vespa's popularity around the world grew, thanks in part to extensive advertising campaigns, the scooter was produced under licence from Piaggio in various countries around the world and a bewildering variety of models were sold. However, the classic large-frame Vespa was the 150 model (introduced in 1954 to take on rival manufacturer Lambretta) which, by the early 1960s, featured a new cylinder-inducted motor design for better reliability and more power along with a four-speed gearbox. The 150 adopted the styling of the GS model, including the tail lights and clamshell speedo, from 1960. With the recent resurgence of interest in the classic Vespas, as people look to scooters once more as an ideal mode of transport in crowded cities, nicely restored examples have proven a solid investment as well as a great way to get around.