BY: JC Rodriguez
In April 1946, this amazing new, functional and innovative mode of transport was presented to the general public for the first time in a Golf Club in Rome. The shield was embossed with a new logo which replaced the previous Piaggio Aircraft emblem. Vespa was an immediate success and gained extensive media interest as well as public curiosity, surprise and even skepticism. The first sales of Vespa were managed through a small dealer network and the price of the standard model was 55,000 lire, while the deluxe version was sold for 66,000 lire.
Vespa is a brand manufactured by Piaggio. The name Vespa means wasp in italian. Piaggio was a manufacturer of fighter planes and after World War II Italy was in a terrible state both economically and it's infrastructure. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio's founder Rinaldo Piaggio, decided to leave the plane business in order to build a new affordable and modern mode of transportation for the masses. The bet paid off. In the first full year of sales, the company sold 2,500 units. In 1948, the number jumped to 10,000 and then over 60,000 in 1950. It wasn't until Hollywood came to promote the Vespa that the company really took off. In the 1952 film "Roman Holliday," featuring Audrey Hepburn, the starlet along with Gregory Peck, would ride through Rome in their Vespa, which resulted in a boom in sales to over 100,000 units sold. You'd then see pictures pop up of John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Charlton Heston taking on the Vespa. The world fell in love with the instant classic.