The 70th national meeting of the Italian Vespa Club

The history of the extraordinary and versatile vehicle of locomotion

The 70th national meeting of the Italian Vespa Club happened in Verona on 1 September 2019. With a whole series of ceremonies and exhibitions. Seeing them hurtling close to the Arena of Verona, for sure made you to think about the history of this extraordinary and versatile vehicle of locomotion. Throughout Italy you can find many Vespa club with tens of thousands of members. Vespa sales decreased in the last years compared to the sixties. The Vespa (wasp) became a symbol of the great successes of Italy after the war and abroad, of its design and its industry.

Passed through a thousand modifications, the Vespa is still in production. All countries around the world used the vehicle created by Piaggio in 1946 and designed by the aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio (Popoli, 1 February 1891 – Pisa, 5 August 1981).

Few people know that Corradino D’Ascanio could be compare to Leonardo Da Vinci of mechanics. He became an aeronautical engineer and a pilot during the First World War. He also invented the helicopter. Whose first prototypes date back to 1926, they flew to considerable distances. But he lacked the capital needed to develop them and the works stopped until the United States took over the sector.

The revolutionary vehicle

To build the Vespa, Enrico Piaggio relied on D’Ascanio precisely because he knew his aversion to motorcycles and then thought, rightly, that he would design something absolutely new. The engine, strong and light, already available in the market, because by the time they created the motor for the first and only four-engined Italian bomber. The P111, which never went beyond the prototype phase.

D’Ascanio created a revolutionary vehicle with the Vespa, borrowing many of its solutions from the air force. He created the first motorbike with a load-bearing body. Without a tubular steel structure and, thanks to this, without a central tunnel. It adopted a front suspension inspired by that of the airplane’s landing gears. He moved the change of the gear to the handlebar, considering it more practical to use and covered the engine with the chassis to remedy.

The frequent oil leaks that stained the trousers. Added the spare wheel because most of the roads of the time were unpaved. And motorcyclists were forced to remedy the frequent punctures with glues and patches. He has shaped the riding position around the design of a man sitting comfortably in a chair. So that the most long-lasting riding is as effortless as possible.

Thus, he created a vehicle so versatile that is now available with an electric motor.