It was during the year 1946, that Enrico Piaggio asked that his engineer develop a vehicle, one that could offer simple transportation for the suffering populace. With dedication and determination, the Vespa scooter was created.
Vespa’s past figuratively begins with the brilliant aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, who was an employee of Piaggio since the 1930s. D’Ascanio was asked to create a vehicle that was easy to operate for both men and women with the option to carry a passenger and their possessions. Another requirement was protection from the mud on the war torn roads. This would serve to keep the driver and passenger safe from the mud and dirt that filled the streets.
The 1946 98D’Ascanio, who by the way is also accredited with the idea of the modern helicopter and who was known to abhor motorcycles, fashioned a scooter with a back-mounted engine, powerful steel frame, firm suspension, broad front protective panel, and a simple twist-grip gear selector designed on the handlebar. After viewing the fresh prototype, Enrico proclaimed, “it looks a wasp!” This is supposedly the authentic means by which the Vespa got its name, which would become famous around the world.
Within its first two years, the 98cc Vespa model sold 12,500 units and enhanced the Italian language with the feisty word “vespare,” which means to travel on a Vespa. The Vespa scooter has become a token of an about-face from carnage and combat to peace. Over a million Vespas were sold within the first ten years.