Pontedera, Italy. The birthplace of the first Vespa (Italian for Wasp).
It was 1946 when the first Vespa scooter was produced at the Piaggio factory and, not wanting to sound too dramatic, a legend was born. The design was set in place including that distinctive body which to this day protects the rider from getting dirty and unkempt. The very first Vespa allowed you to sit comfortably and safely, two of the hallmarks of the Vespa ride that is so celebrated today. This isn’t the website to find out every detail about the history of Vespa so instead you can head over to Vespa USA where they take you back to 1884 and the founding of Piaggio.
Over 60 models were produced in the period between the first Vespa being produced in Pontedera and the dawn of the modern Vespa era in 1996. So instead of listing each one we’re going to pick our favorite Vintage Vespas for you to drool over.
Vespa 150 TAP
Armored scooters? Yes indeed! Apart from the obvious jokes about a handy way to deal with idiot car drivers who cut you off when you’re riding, this Vespa was the real deal in WW2. The Vespa 150 TAP was modified to carry a M20 75mm bazooka by ACMA (Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et d’Automobiles) for the French Airborne Forces.
Vespa sold a whopping 100,000 of the 125 model thanks to the movie Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The original 1940′s 98cc models were no longer made in favor of the larger 125 engine which itself would be eclipsed in the mid 1950s by the Vespa Sprint 150.
Vespa Sprint 150
Between 1965 and 1975 Vespa produced what is perhaps the most iconic Vespa still seen on the road today. The Vespa Sprint was a 150cc 2 stroke model which in 1975 received an upgrade and new branding to become the Vespa Sprint Veloce (upgraded engine and turn signals).
You could argue that the introduction of the PX line of Vespas in the late 1970s was the end of the Vintage era with the introduction of a host of new design features including electronic ignition in the Vespa P 200 E. The PX series had a very healthy lifespan as they were produced up until 2007 with the release of the Ultima Serie (last series). But I guess Vespa realized they shouldn’t have retired such a popular scooter as the PX returned just two years ago in 2010 and remains one of the most popular designs among many enthusiasts.