Vespa 400 - June 12, 2014

Please don't ask anyone at the American Treasure Tour which we love more:  automatic music machines or classic automobiles.  Both of them are beautiful machines and technological marvels. One of them provides music to soothe the soul, while the other helps get you from point A to point B.  Here at the blog, we love to talk about both, and today we are going to invest a little time into two of our more unusual classic cars:  the Vespa 400.  

The Vespa 400 microcar was only produced for five years - from 1957 to 1961.  The Italian-based Piaggio company, more famous for their famous Vespa scooters, produced these rear-engine, two-cylinder cars with three-speed transmissions.  Similar to the cycle cars produced in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, the Vespa 400 had many elements of the motorcycle in its design.  Some of the lucky people who have had the opportunity to drive the little Vespa claim that it is a little loud, a little slow, and the gas mileage could be better.  But when you drive a classic, those are just minor distractions!

QUESTION:  Which was the first circus to adopt the concept of the "clown car" - in which an extremely large number of clowns pour out of a small car?

a)  Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey

b)  Cole Brothers

c)  Big Top

d)  Monty Python's Flying

Answer Below


It might be said that Prohibition inspired the creation of one of the most popular halls of fame in the United States.  The owner of a Cooperstown, New York hotel saw how badly the local hops production had been devastated by prohibition-era laws, compounded by the Great Depression.  So, inspired by the myth that local hero Abner Doubleday created the national pass-time of baseball, started the ball moving on the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Today in 1939, it officially opened its doors. 

Twenty years ago today, things went sour for famous football player-turned actor O.J. Simpson when his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found murdered.  This tragedy began a national obsession with the trial of the celebrity who, despite his eventual acquittal, was held accountable for the crime.


Let us spend a moment to honor the life of Mr. John A. Roebling.  Born German in the year 1806, the resourceful engineer moved to the United States in 1831.  Roebling's knowledge of wire rope production proved a boon.  In fact, he spent the rest of his life producing bridges for a country eager to grow.  He created many during his very constructive life, most famously the Brooklyn Bridge, which proved to be his last.  His foot was accidentally crushed by a docking boat during construction.  He developed tetanus from the accident, which eventually caused his death.  The bridge was completed by his son Washington, who also suffered debilitating injuries during its construction, and his wife Emily, the unsung hero of one of the world's most famous bridges.

Few people today remember the wonder of Irwin Allen's contribution to television and film, which is a shame.  The famous producer, who would have turned 98 today, created many fascinating science fiction programs, including Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants.  Aside from these beloved tv shows, Allen also made the highly-popular The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, popularizing the disaster film genre.  Happy birthday, Irwin!

QUOTE:  Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Answer:  b) Cole Brothers used this gimmick to much success starting in the 1950's.