1969 Piaggio Vespa 150 Sprint
Frame no. VLB1T047139
Along with the rival Lambretta, the Piaggio-built Vespa mobilized an entire generation of Italians in the immediate post-war years, the humble scooter going on to become part of youth culture in the 1960s as favorite transport of the fashion conscious. The end of hostilities in 1945 had left a number of companies that hitherto relied on military contracts looking for alternatives, Piaggio among them. Forbidden by the Allies from resuming his aviation business, Enrico Piaggio instructed his chief designer Corradino dAscanio to design a scooter, for which he believed a potential market existed, particularly among women. dAscanios aviation background meant that he was well versed in techniques of stressed-skin construction, and these were deployed in creating the Vespas monocoque chassis, a revolutionary development at the time. The name Vespa (wasp) is said to have been inspired by the buzzing sound made by its single-cylinder two-stroke engine. "Just like Henry Ford put the workers on wheels in America," Enrico Piaggio told Newsweek, "we put automotive transport within the reach of people who never expected to travel that way." Since its introduction in 1946, millions have been made and countless different versions come and gone, yet the Vespa of today remains recognizably related to the first one made 60 years ago. Classic? Most definitely.
The machine offered here is an example of the Vespa 150 Sprint made from 1965 to 1969. Riding on 10 wheels, the 150 Sprint was powered by a 150cc two-stroke single producing 7.1bhp and driving via a four-speed transmission. It was superseded by the more powerful (7.7bhp) Sprint Veloce. This particular machine has been restored in the manner of that featured in the motion picture, Alfie, which starred Michael Caine as the eponymous philanderer in the 1966 original and Jude Law in that same role in the 2004 remake. The machine has been updated with a modern, brand new, five-port, reed-valve motor producing 11bhp, and is fitted with a special stainless-steel crash bar and whitewall tires.