Vespa: the ageless icon

Southend Shakedown - Vespa on the promenade (top)A quick look back through old photo albums or Facebook profile pictures will tell you one thing, fashions and trends change rapidly.

And while trends are cyclical (the beard or the flare, for example), most are cool one minute and cripplingly embarrassing the next.

In the motorcycle industry that’s clear in the café racer, flat track revival going on at the moment but back in the 1980s it was all about Japanese sports bikes, fairings and loud colours.

Fashions change, trends move on and it’s only a select few that remain almost unchanged, in a testament to their design, when everything else around them seems to change at pace.

One of those constants celebrated its 70th birthday on Monday.

The Vespa

Vespa is an Italian scooter manufacturer that has stuck to its guns since it first hit European roads in 1946.

Owned forever by Piaggio, the manufacturer sprung up in post World War II Italy when the country was screaming out for affordable modes of transport, and Piaggio filled that breach.

Iconic style

In 70 years, Vespa hasn’t really changed with a monocoque design still used and the easily identifiable wide mudguard at the front.

While the technology around Vespas have undoubtedly changed, they still look like they always did and remain popular the world over.

Silverscreen and celebrity endorsements

Vespa received its first big promotion when Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck got behind the handlebars of one in Rome in the film, Roman Holiday.

Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, Charlton Heston and John Wayne also reportedly used Vespas to get around on set.

More recently, Matt Damon rode a Vespa in The Talented Mr Ripley.

In The Who’s Quadrophenia, Phil Daniels spends most of his time on a Lambretta but Vespas also litter the screen.

Even now, Vespas are used as a nod to the Mod scene in the UK with Shane Meadows’ This Is England ’86 TV mini series also featuring the famous Italian scooter.

Vespa parked up in an Italian side street (content image)

But the list of A-listers and Hollywood royalty seen on a Vespa is almost endless and not confined to gritty dramas about the mods of the 1960s.

The likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Mickey Rourke, Cameron Diaz, Anne Hathaway and Emma Watson have all been snapped with Vespas.

Will the Vespa ever get old?

The point about the Vespa is that it has got old but people still love it.

The style of the famous PX 150 and PX 125 has not really changed in 70 years it’s only really its position in the market that has.

Vespa is no longer a budget brand that gives city dwellers an absolutely affordable means of getting around the city, as it was when it was first introduced in the 1940s, in fact, as far as scooters go, Vespa is at the high-end of the market now.

It’s a plush two-wheeler for stylish travel, rather than the most affordable scooter on the market.

And that’s where Vespa has sat in the market place for the last 10 to 20 years and if it can remain a bestseller whilst sitting towards the top of the price range, it doesn’t look like much will shift it.

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