BK Micro Car Collection BK GROUP - Helsinki
Vespa name means wasp in Italian

Vespa 150

The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter

manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. S.p.A. of

Pontedera, Italy—to a full line of scooters and one of

seven companies today owned by Piaggio.










































fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit.


Vespa   150   TAP,   modified   by   the   French   military,   that   incorporated   an   anti   tank   weapon   Post World   War   II   Italy,   in   light   of   its   agreement   to   cessation   of   war   activities   with   the Allies,   had   its aircraft industry severely restricted in both capability and capacity. Piaggio    emerged    from    the    conflict    with    its    Pontedera    fighter    plane    plant    demolished    by bombing.   Italy's   crippled   economy   and   the   disastrous   state   of   the   roads   did   not   assist   in   the   re- development   of   the   automobile   markets.   Enrico   Piaggio,   the   son   of   Piaggio's   founder   Rinaldo Piaggio,   decided   to   leave   the   aeronautical   field   in   order   to   address   Italy's   urgent   need   for   a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses.


The   inspiration   for   the   design   of   the   Vespa   dates   back   to   Pre-World   War   II   Cushman   scooters made   in   Nebraska,   USA.   These   olive   green   scooters   were   in   Italy   in   large   numbers,   ordered originally   by   Washington   as   field   transport   for   the   Paratroops   and   Marines.   The   US   military   had used   them   to   get   around   Nazi   defense   tactics   of   destroying   roads   and   bridges   in   the   Dolomites   (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.


In   1944,   Piaggio   engineers   Renzo   Spolti   and   Vittorio   Casini   designed   a   motorcycle   with   bodywork fully   enclosing   the   drivetrain   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"   in Italian). Enrico   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. D'Ascanio's   MP6   prototype   had   its   engine   mounted   beside   the   rear   wheel.   The   wheel   was   driven directly   from   the   transmission,   eliminating   the   drive   chain   and   the   oil   and   dirt   associated   with it.   The   prototype   had   a   unit   spar   frame   with   stress-bearing   steel   outer   panels.   These   changes allowed   the   MP6   to   have   a   step-through   design   without   a   centre   section   like   that   of   the   MP5 Paperino.   The   MP6   design   also   included   a   single   sided   front   suspension,   interchangeable   front and   rear   wheels   mounted   on   stub   axles,   and   a   spare   wheel.   Other   features   of   the   MP6   were similar   to   those   on   the   Paperino,   including   the   handlebar-mounted   controls   and   the   enclosed bodywork with the tall front splash guard. 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.


On   23   April   1946,   at   12   o'clock   in   the   central   office   for   inventions,   models   and   makes   of   the Ministry   of   Industry   and   Commerce   in   Florence,   Piaggio   e   C.   S.p.A.   took   out   a   patent   for   a "motorcycle   of   a   rational   complexity   of   organs   and   elements   combined   with   a   frame   with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part". The   basic   patented   design   allowed   a   series   of   features   to   be   deployed   on   the   spar-frame   that would   later   allow   quick   development   of   new   models.   The   original   Vespa   featured   a   rear   pillion seat   for   a   passenger,   or   optionally   a   storage   compartment.   The   original   front   protection   "shield" was   a   flat   piece   of   aero   metal;   later,   this   developed   into   a   twin   skin   to   allow   additional   storage behind   the   front   shield,   similar   to   the   glove   compartment   in   a   car.   The   fuel   cap   was   located underneath   the   (hinged)   seat,   which   saved   the   cost   of   an   additional   lock   on   the   fuel   cap   or   need for additional metal work on the smooth skin. The   scooter   had   rigid   rear   suspension   and   small   8-inch   (200   mm)   wheels   that   allowed   a   compact design   and   plenty   of   room   for   the   rider's   legs.   The   Vespa's   enclosed,   horizontally   mounted   98   cc two-stroke   engine   acted   directly   on   the   rear   drive   wheel   through   a   three-speed   transmission. The   twistgrip-controlled   gear   change   involved   a   system   of   rods.   The   early   engine   had   no   forced- air   cooling,   but   fan   blades   were   soon   attached   to   the   magneto-flywheel   (which   houses   the points   and   generates   electricity   for   accessories   and   for   the   engine's   spark)   to   push   air   over   the cylinder's cooling fins. The modern Vespa engine is still cooled this way. The   MP6   prototype   had   large   grilles   on   the   front   and   rear   of   the   rear   fender   covering   the engine.   This   was   done   to   allow   air   in   to   cool   the   engine,   as   the   prototype   did   not   have   fan cooling.   A   cooling   fan   similar   to   that   used   on   the   MP5   "Paperino"   prototype   was   included   in   the design of the production Vespa, and the grilles were removed from the fender.


Engine 150cc 2-stroke
Photos mainly by Matti Kreivilä. Historical facts and technical details of the vehicles provided by Wikipedia. Movies YouTube.