'Vespa' 125 scooter, made by Piaggio, Italy, 1948.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Intended for the Italian domestic market, the Vespa was first designed in 1946 by former aeronautical designer, Corradino D'Ascanio, at the request of the manager of the Piaggio company, Enrico Piaggio. It enjoyed immediate popularity, and was redesigned by D'Ascanio in 1948 as the 125cc model. 19,822 Vespas were produced in 1948 alone. The Vespa's technical specifications include an engine and gearbox directly connected to the rear wheel, chasis, interchangeable wheels, and a twistgrip-operated gearbox.