In the summer of 1962, the vehicle that has since become probably the world’s most valuable Vespa carried two Madrid University students, Santiago Guillen and Antonio Veciana, on a tour of Europe.
The two youths, headed for Rome and then Athens, met the master of surrealism in Cadaquez, the first stop on their trip. In the words of one journalist, Salvador Dalì “true to his reputation, decided to decorate the Vespa in bizarre fashion, adding his signature and the name of his partner and muse Gala.”
Hence this scooter entered the annals of history, becoming a true myth for Vespa fans.
Found and restored (without however touching the parts decorated by Dalì), the Vespa quickly drew interest from several museums. After a first outing in the summer of 1999 to the annual Eurovespa rally, held that year in Girona, Spain. The scooter was on display at “The Art of Motorcycle” exhibition with which the Guggenheim Museum of New York inaugurated its Bilbao museum. The Vespa Dalì’s last international outing took place in 2000 at VespArt, a London exhibition. Subsequently, the exhibition’s eight Vespas decorated by eight British celebrities including Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon were auctioned for charity at Sotheby’s.
Like other motorcycle producers, Piaggio spent part of its research to the military use of vehicles.
The first projects presented to the Ministry of Defence in Italy date back to the beginning of the fifties, of which there is written evidence such as drawings (like the image that compares the Vespa 125 with a motorcycle). The 1964 model derives from the Vespa 125 (VMA1) with a few changes on the frame to reduce encumbrance. In fact, the handlebar and the front wheel can be quickly removed and placed on the left-side sack. After negotiations with the Italian Ministry of Defence, the Vespa military has remained as a prototype.
This vehicle appeared in the film “Dick Smart, Agent 2007” starring Richard Wyler, Margaret Lee, Rosanna Tapados.
For this movie, the Vespa 180 Super Sport was transformed by Piaggio and by the English factory Alpha Willis to race along the road, fly like a helicopter, sail and dive like a submarine.
This Vespa PX model was built in 1977 to launch the Vespa “Nuova Linea” (“New Line”) in Paris. Brought back and jealously guarded by the Recovery Warehouse Piaggio team, the Vespone is now one of the most appreciated attractions of Piaggio Museum.
Piaggio’s homage to the Ferrari racing stable on the occasion of their victory in the Formula One World Championship 2000. These vehicles, personalised with the names Montezemolo, Todt, Schumacher and Barrichello, are painted the Ferrari red, the leather saddle is made of the same material used to upholster Ferrari cars.
In 2001, Piaggio organised the Vesparte competition. Fourteen Vespa ET4 scooters were entered, interpreted with a mixture of art and design.
Vespa in jeans, “always keeping up with the times” (the Vespa is a classic, like the timeless fashion garment), was developed by PPG Industries.
In 2001, Piaggio organised the Vesparte competition. Fourteen Vespa ET4 scooters were entered, interpreted with a mixture of art and design. The winner was Nicolino Di Carlo (Piaggio Style Centre) with the Vespa “Pezzo Unico”, where the artist restores to the industrial object what mass production had taken away: the ability to be a work of art.
In 2001, Piaggio organised the Vesparte competition. Fourteen Vespa ET4 scooters were entered, interpreted with a mixture of art and design. The runner-up was Paolo Maria Iemmi (Piaggio Style Centre) with “La mucca è pazza per la Vespa”. The extraordinary edition of the Piaggiornale reports a mad cow disease whose symptoms are “a feverish passion for speed, a thirst for freedom, a mad joy for life”.
The Vespa PX becomes a real work of art, moulded and shaped by Mino Trafeli’s creativity. A precious anthological exhibition of Trafeli’s works is hosted in the halls of the Piaggio Museum in 2003. “Mitologica Vespa” (“Mythological Vespa”) was donated to the museum’s collection by its author, and was defined as follows: “A parallel game that distorts the object in order to create a new shape, using unsuitable materials thus giving birth to new considerations on the object itself. Re-considering, beside the visual inertia that leads to the shapes’ inurement, the scooter aesthetical valence, and re-discovering the meaning of its unique style which has maintained its original characteristical form, despite the changes of time”.
Vespa in copper made by the artist Mario Giuntini and donated to the Piaggio Museum in October 2013. Mauro Giuntini, born in Rome in 1948, attended the painting course of Afro Basaldella from 1969 to 1971 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence; he graduated in 1973 from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, attending the sculpture course held by Alik Cavaliere.
A papier-mache tribute to the Vespa, created in 2007 by two young Carnival-devotees from Viareggio (Annalisa Benedetti and Luca Bertozzi).
An Ape 50 Europe decorated from a project by the Piaggio Style Office for the Ape’s 60th anniversary celebrations (2008) with a collage of vintage advertising images and articles on the Ape.
In the summer of 2010, the reporters of the BBC’s famous children’s program Blue Peter were invited to film in the Piaggio factory, where they “produced” a Vespa LX with the Blue Peter colours and logo. The Vespa was subsequently donated to the Piaggio Museum.
The Vespa GT 300 customised in 2010 by Turin artist Ugo Nespolo for the exhibition La Vespa e il Cinema, organised by the Piaggio Foundation in cooperation with the Multimedia Cinema Centre. In addition to the scooter shown here, a second model can be seen at the artist’s studio in Turin.
After a long personal research and studies on the use of acrylic paints and glitters, Luca used his art and imagination to handcraft elaborate embossed artworks. Created in September 2010, the Vespa Venice was on exhibit at the 54th Biennale di Venezia (Venice Art Biennial), and has been on display at the Piaggio Museum since July 2012.
“Seeing my work exhibited in the Piaggio Museum” – said the artist – “is another great dream that has come true. Basically my passion for motor vehicles and for color brought me to work on an iconic piece of Italian history, the Vespa. It only feels right that, so many years later, my Vespa Venice with a touch of renewed originality, returns home.”
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification, in 2011 the Piaggio Group produced a limited edition of Vespa PX 150 scooters, one of the most representative models in the Vespa range, and also the longest marketed and best-selling Vespa ever, with more than 3,000,000 scooters sold around the world. The Vespa PX 150 Anniversario Unità d’Italia, in white adorned with tricolour decorations, came with a standard spare wheel, housed, in traditional Vespa Style, under the left side panel. The technical characteristics that decreed the success of the Vespa PX were maintained: a four-speed manual gear shift on the handlebar, an absolute “must” for true believers, the legendary robust steel frame and the reliability of a simple, indestructible engine, together with an unmistakeable and timeless design.
A prototype designed by the Piaggio Style Centre as the only model for the 150th anniversary celebrations of Italian unification.
In Taormina, the Vespa was a star player at the 2011 edition of the Nastri d’Argento film awards, one of the most important events in Italian cinema: the top names in Italian cinema rode a “fleet” of Vespa PX 150 scooters, recreating the atmosphere of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The PX in the Museum is one of those scooters, complete with the event logo and the signatures of the actors who were in Taormina.
The Ape 50 Viaggio nella fantasia was decorated by artist Giuliano Ghelli (1944-2014) for the exhibition Giuliano Ghelli La fabbrica della fantasia, hosted by the Piaggio Museum from 28 May to 16 July 2011 and subsequently taken into the Museum’s permanent collection.
Ekovespa Project by Gianni Depaoli represents the imaginary journey of a Vespa Piaggio in the world. the fish skin that covers it, identifies the multi-ethnicity of the legendary brand. this work of art is part of the Organic Trash Art project, which values the organic waste, using it to create works that touch on themes of eco-sustainability, biodiversity.
This Vespa PX was decorated by Tuscan artist Giampaolo Talani for his exhibition Bottega Talani. Un viaggio nell’affresco, hosted by the Piaggio Museum from 1 June to 28 July 2012. On the frame of the Vespa, a means of transport that has acquired “legendary” status, Talani reproduced symbols of one of the recurring themes of his work, travel, “a swarm of flying suitcases, roses and umbrellas; glimpses of sea with unlikely red buoys and whales gliding slowly along the horizon.”
For Il Popolo Vuole, an exhibition of the work of Lebanese artist Ali Hassoun at the Piaggio Museum in June 2013, the artist decided to paint a Vespa LX with splendid images from his pictures.
Vespa 50 special wholly hand painted by Germana Triani fo 6sensi Group
Pop Vespa is an interpretation of the new Vespa Primavera – launched in 2013 – created by Maddalena Carrai, a young artist from Livorno, who decorated the scooter “live” at the Piaggio Museum, in front of visitors, in the spring of 2014. The Vespa was presented to the public with a musical event on 21 June the same year. Maddalena Carrai is a graphic design student at the Fine Arts Academy in Florence, where she follows Andrea Mi’s multimedia language courses. After seeing some of Maddalena’s designs, pop star Lady Gaga asked her to produce graphics to «decorate» the fan village that goes with her on her tour.
Project by Paola Navone for LOCAL ICONS Greetings from Rome exhibition, Alcantara – MAXXI 2015
A Vespa PX 125 is dressed up in white, red and green Alcantara® material. Three colors typical of Italy’s tricolour through an original interpretation of the saddle and the white Alcantara polka-dots all over the bodywork.