Today, thousands of Vespa enthusiasts and aficionados will descend on Belfast's Titanic Quarter for the latest Vespa World Days. Every year a National Vespa Club puts on an event to celebrate the history, culture and love for this iconic mode of transport. This year it's the Vespa Club of Britain's turn to entertain the scores of scooter fans travelling from the far-flung corners of the globe.
The Vespa, (which is Italian for wasp) was first produced in 1946 by the Italian company, Piaggio - originally a locomotive and railway carriages manufacturer the company converted to the aeronautical and military sector during World War I. But it wasn't until after World War II that Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio's founder Rinaldo, decided to leave the aeronautical field in order to address Italy's urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses - and on 23 April 1946 based on designs by former aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio the Vespa was born.
Piaggio sold 2,500 Vespas in 1947, over 10,000 in 1948, 20,000 in 1949, and over 60,000 in 1950 but popularity increased massively in 1952 when Audrey Hepburn side-saddled Gregory Peck's Vespa in the feature film Roman Holiday - and Hollywood stars such as John Wayne, Marlon Brando and Dean Martin all became Vespa owners.
In the UK - the Mod subculture that developed in the 60s chose the scooter as it's preferred mode of transport and was featured heavily in cult film Quadrophenia. UK Sales dipped in the 80s and 90s due to lack of development and the increase in small car ownership but peaked again in the early naughties thanks to the London congestion charge and a certain Jamie Oliver scooting around London during his Naked Chef series.
Over the last 72 years, multiple versions and models of Vespa have been produced and the two-wheeler has become a design icon and has sold in excess of 16 million units and with a form that exudes Italian charm and styling, the Vespa will be buzzing through the world’s city streets for many years to come!
... and purely by coincidence, one of our latest products, our slim fit men's shirt features a scooter pattern - so scoot on over to the men's section of the website and take a look - we think they are wheelie great!