& SCOOTER HISTORY
The origins of the scooter date back to the late
nineteenth century, although definitions of such depend
often on opinion rather than fact.
The first successful production two-wheeler was the
Hildebrand & Wolfmueller, patented in Munich in
1894. It had a step-through frame, with its fuel tank
mounted on the downtube. The engine was a parallel twin,
mounted low on the frame, with its cylinders going
fore-and-aft. It was water-cooled and had a radiator
built into the top of the rear fender. The bike became
the first powered two wheel vehicle to be offered to the
public on a production basis and was crucial in its move
away from the foot pedal as the main source of engine
Although commercially the bike was not a massive money
spinner, it paved the way for a new generation of
affordable and practical transport. It wasn't, however,
until the end of WW2 that the scooter really came into
The modern scooter was born in the Lambratte area of
Milan, as was the brainchild one Ferdinado Innocenti,
who was born in Bescia on 1st September 1891. Following
the war there was a dire need to mobilise Italy once
more, and government help was given to any company
interested in addressing this need.
Inspired by some military motorcycles he had seen in
Rome, he approached his designer Corradino D'ascanio to
discuss the project and the first blueprints of the
scooter we know and love today were formed.
Unfortunately the two men could not always agree, and
D'ascanio left to join the Piaggio company to
work on aircraft design, until such times as he and
Piaggio created the 'Vespa'.
Not sitting on his laurels, however, Innocenti, his
General Director Guiseppe Lauro and an engineer named
Pierluigi Torre designed a scooter, which was unveiled
in 1947 at the Paris Motor Show. The scooter was named
after the region where the factory stood, and the river
it stood on. The 'Lambretta' was born.
The first Lambretta, the Lambretta 'A', first went on
sale on December 23rd 1947. It was economical
(160-180mpg at a time when petrol was severely
rationed), with a moderate top speed of 45mph, and a
direct air-cooled engine with 123cc. During its first 12
months of sale the 'A' model, which was available in
five different colours (green,red,beige,blue and grey),
went on to sell 9,000 units.
The first Vespa was produced in 1946, had a 98cc engine
and a top speed of 47mph. The first Vespa 125cc was
produced two years later in 1948 …. Let battle commence!