The world’s oldest Vespa scooter, the third prototype built by Piaggio in 1946, is currently being auctioned on the online bidding site Catawiki, with an expected result of $250,000 to $300,000.
That might seem like a whole lot for a simple Italian scooter, but consider this example as a historic artifact from the effort to provide cheap, efficient transportation for a nation devastated by World War II. With many millions produced, the Vespa scooter became emblematic of a youthful Neapolitan lifestyle, and were highly popular around the world.
Bidding already has exceeded $174,000 will update for chassis No. 1003 – the first two prototypes no longer exist – with five auction days to go. The auction can be seen at Vespa bidding.
The Vespa scooter, based on the original design concept of Corradino d’Ascanio, the engineering genius who also invented the helicopter, is considered to be an iconic example of industrial artwork and instantly recognizable everywhere. With its frameless unibody design and the single-cylinder engine, gearbox and rear axle combined as a single unit, Vespa set the style for scooter design that continues today.
The oldest Vespa has received a “tutorial restoration” and is in running condition, according to the auction description. The paint has been stripped off the body and finished in clearcoat to show its hand-built construction.
“Over the years, Vespa has become the No. 1 symbol representing Italy,” Davide Marelli, Vespa expert at Catawiki, says in a news release. “The brand is known all around the world, and there are many collectors acquiring antique Vespas.
“We hope this Vespa will end up in the hands of a collector or in a museum that will protect this piece of Italian history for future generations.”