1960 Vespa 400
For Sale at Hyman Ltd | St. Louis, Missouri
Vespa is the world famous scooter manufacturer that produces the classic design that has been popular among so many different groups of people since it went on sale in the late 1940s. They have been featured in many films over the years, but perhaps most famously in Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Sales took off after that and when I think “Vespa” I think someone roaring around the streets on a scooter outside the Colosseum in Rome.
Vespa is owned (and has been since its inception) by Piaggio, the Italian motorcycle conglomerate. In the late 1950s, Piaggio designed a small car and licensed the design to ACMA in France, who built the car as the Vespa 400. ACMA was independent of Piaggio, yet they were still badged as Vespas, which was a Piaggio trademark. While Vespa scooters are Italian, this Vespa car is French. Weird. In any case, ACMA put the car into production in 1957 but they closed up in 1962, a year after Vespa 400 production wrapped.
About 34,000 of these cars were built and this is as nice of one as you’re likely to find. It’s tiny but two people can fit inside. It has a folding fabric top and is powered by a 393cc straight-twin making 20 horsepower. It’s a two-stroke engine mounted in the rear, driving the rear wheels. See that weird looking thing on the front where the grille would normally be? That’s a sliding tray containing the battery.
This is a U.S. market car (it has a 3-speed transmission, other markets got 4-speeds). It will do 50 mph and can be yours for $31,500. For more information, click here.
Update: Sold, Mecum, Kansas City, December 2012, $22,500.