Daily Essentials: The Vespa

Do I own one. No! Would I take the time out to purchase one, only if I could trick it out like I plan to with my 2008 Jeep Wrangler. You know, black on black an such. I was on my way into work this morning while attempting to walk across to 16th street near Union Square. Zoom a male in striped tailored suit dashes by me. I thought for two seconds 007 but, it looked cool for that split second then I proceeded to work and decided to research this little motorcycle that has revolutionize the world.

Post-war Italy was in disastrous shape, with most of their industries left all but gutted, and Piaggo & Co. had taken one of the biggest hits.  During World War Two the company had been a major producer of fighter planes for the Italian military, but the allies bombed their factories to oblivion over the course of the campaign.  After the dust settled Enrico Piaggo, who’s father Rinaldo had founded the company, decided it was time to start anew, leaving the aviation industry behind, he began to steer the company in a new direction.  Enrico had a vision for a contemporary and affordable invention that would revolutionize the way the Italian’s lived their lives as they rebuilt their country.

The international push came in 1952 with the release of Roman Holiday, as Gregory Peck rolled through the Roman streets with Audrey Hepburn at his side sales skyrocketed.  With interest piquing Vespa expanded production and sales throughout the world, marketing the scooters as a paragon of that incredibly desirable laid-back Italian attitude.  With new markets came even greater success and by 1956 Vespa sales reached into the millions.  Over the years the Vespa has gone beyond it’s Italian roots, taking on new meaning for each generation.  During the sixties it was the mods in England, for whom the inexpensive vehicles meant freedom.  The young Mod rocker, riding around in a kitted out Vespa all decked out in a slim fitting suit and matching wingtips was a common sight throughout London for years.  Beyond that everyone from the Japanese, to Hollywood stars, to American urbanites have had a love affair with the Vespa at one time or another, drawn in by that uniquely appealing Italian design.

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