The Vespa (which means “wasp” in Italian) was the result of Enrico Piaggio’s determination to create a low cost product for the masses. The prototype, known as the MP5, was nicknamed “Paperino” (the Italian name for Donald Duck) because of its strange shape, but Enrico Piaggio did not like it, and he asked Corradino D’Ascanio to redesign it.
Corradino D’Ascanio only needed a few days to refine his idea and prepare the first drawings of The Vespa, first produced in April 1946. It got its name from Enrico Piaggio himself who, looking at the MP6 prototype, exclaimed, “It looks like a wasp!” And so the Vespa was born.
Women certainly loved the Vespa. Its appearance in Roman Holiday, the 1953 romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, is said to have been worth 100,000 sales. Perhaps it was. The glamorous Hollywood couple spun carefree around Rome on one of the scooters, aimlessly and stylishly. Audiences wanted to do the same.
Countless actors and actresses sat on the Vespa in countless films – Examples include Nanni Moretti’s ‘Dear Diary’ (1993), where the main character spends an entire episode on the saddle of a 150 Sprint or ‘Alfie’ (2004), directed by Charles Shyer, which sees Jude Law out on the streets of Manhattan on a white and blue Vespa; or Sydney Pollack’s ‘The Interpreter’ (2005), where Nicole Kidman’s favoured means of transport around New York is a yellow Vespa.