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Vespa, a wholly subsidiary venture of Piaggio Group, is an Italian classic scooter manufacturer. Founded in 1946, Vespa is being the most famous scooter brand in the world. The Italian word 'Vespa' defines an insect such as wasp or hornet that is neither a bee nor an ant. Vespa is only one of seven brands of Piaggio, which is the Europe's largest and the world's fourth largest motorcycle and scooter manufacturer by units. Aprilla, Drbi, Gilera, Ligier and Moto Guzzi are the other brands. Pontera, Italy is the headquarters of the company.
The Second World War caused a lot for Piaggio. Their aircraft industry was crushed in bomb blast. This led the consortium to be a part of revolutionary innovations. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio's founder, Rinaldo Piaggio, left the aeronautical class and started planning about new way of transportation which is much essential and affordable for the majorities. Inspired from the Cusha scooters which were used by the US military in Italy during the World War II, Piaggio engineers Renzo Spolti and Vittorio Casini designed a two wheeler in 1944. The two wheeler was comprised of a couple of small diameter tyres, a tall splash guard at the front portion and a control mounted handlebar. The design was officially called as the MP5 and nick named as 'Paperino'. However, the prototype of Spolti and Casini couldn't impress Enrico Piaggio. Thus he approached an aeronautical engineer, Corradino D'Ascanio to redesign the sketch. The good hand of D'Ascanio delighted Enrico Piaggio and the MP6 prototype was born. The MP6 had its engine beside the rear wheel. It had a unit spar frame unlike the MP5 and resulted the absence of bulged portion at the centre. Seeing the MP6 for the first time, the machine resembled him a wasp and he named it Vespa (Wasp). The scooter was blessed with tons of space for the rider's leg. It had a rigid rear suspension as well. The Vespa was enclosed with a horizontally-mounted two-stroke 98 cc engine and was mated with a 3-speed transmission.
In 1946, won a patent for 'motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part,' at the central office for inventions, models and makes of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Florence, Piaggio e C. S.p.A. In the same year, the first Vespa was launched to the public, the Vespa 98. It was powered by a 98 cc engine which was further assisted by 3.2 bhp at 4500 rpm. The scooter could make a top speed of 60 kmph. Vespa produced almost 2500 scooters in that year. Vespa continued its production and moulded out 15,500 machines in the following year, 1947. The consortium registered new benchmark by launching Vespa 125 in 1948. The new Vespa introduced rear suspension for the first time. The updated model of the Vespa 125 in inhibited several significant changes in power and engine. The scooter was upgraded to 5 bhp and that resulted a top speed of 75 kmph. In the same year, the company introduced the utility version of Vespa, the Vespa 125 U. The headlamp was attached high up on the handle bar for the first time.
The first 150 cc scooter of Vespa, the Vespa 150 GS got introduced in 1955. Thanks to the new features that the scooter was mated with 4-speed gearbox, standard long saddle, faired handlebar-headlamp and a couple of 10 inch tyres. It was the first scooter to reach a top speed of 100 kmph. In 1962, Vespa introduced the successor of the Vespa 150 GS, the Vespa 160 GS. It was capable to generate 8.2 bhp at 6,500 rpm. In 1964, Corradino D'Ascanio drew his last sketch for the Vespa 50. It was the smallest engined scooter of the company. Replacing 150 GS and 160 GS, Vespa unveiled its first 180 cc scooter in 1965. In 1972, the most powerful Vespa, the Vespa 200 Rally was launched. The 200 cc engine was coupled with a maximum power of 12.35 bhp at 5700 rpm. The scooter marked a top speed of 116 kmph. In 1985, the Italian firm unveiled the revolutionary model, the Vespa T 5 Pole Position. The scooter was so sporty with its ultimate new design. This resemblances the current Vespa 125 LX which is production
Piaggio opened their account in India with Bajaj Auto in the 60s. In this collaboration, Vespa sold out several units in India. Unfortunately, Vespa had to quit the nation as a part of Indira Gandhi's privatization programs. However, Bajaj continued the production and launched scooter namely, the Chetak. Vespa came back to India in 1983. This time the consortium handed over with LML (Lohia Machines Ltd). Together they produced the P-Series scooters. But due to some disputes, the joint venture was parted away. Still, LML continues producing the P-Series scooters as the Stella variants in Europe, US and some other markets. Alas, in January 2012, Vespa showcased their face with the Vespa 125 at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo and proclaimed their coma back. No longer, but in April 2012, Piaggio commenced selling the Vespa 125 in India.
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