c.1960 Vespa 400
- The Italian Piaggio Company introduced the Vespa (“wasp”) scooter in 1946. Within ten years, they sold 1 million(with over 15 million to date). Piaggio introduced their Vespa 400 microcar in 1957, which was in production until 1961.
- The bare-bones vehicle is both adorable and practical. It has two seats, with a cushion behind them for smaller passengers. The air-cooled engine is in the trunk, the battery under the hood, and the spare 10” tire below the passenger seat. Initially, the windows did not open, but the fabric top could be rolled back to allow for circulation. Its top speed was 50 m.p.h.
- Cole Brothers Circus introduced the clown car gag in the ‘50s. The Vespa, with its size and maneuverability, would have been an ideal addition to the comic antics of clowns upon its introduction in the late '50's.