Love all things, Vespa? You probably need a copy of Vespa – Style and Passion by Valerio Boni and Stefano Cordara.
It’s a big one. A large-format hardback book and the official 75th-anniversary book too. The publisher describes it as ‘the ultimate retrospective of the iconic brand’s history’ as well as ‘a glimpse of its future’. Although on these pages, the former is probably more appealing than the latter.
The book is the work of motorcycling historians Valerio Bondi and Stefano Cordara, who have obviously undertaken a lot of research for this particular volume. It really is a feast for the eyes and something that should keep you going for quite some time. 224 large pages and within them, 250 colour and black and white shots.
A lot of history too. This doesn’t just kick in after the Second World War. The book looks at the industrial heritage of the company, gradually painting a picture of how it developed in terms of manufacturing and how the scooter (and associated designs) came into being.
If that sounds a bit dry, it isn’t. It’s an interesting read. But if you don’t fancy the reading, just flick through all of those wonderful glossy images.
Vintage advertisements, archive models, factory shots and lifestyle images throughout the decades. Yes, Audrey Hepburn does make the cut. It’s all here, along with pictures of key figures in the brand’s history and preliminary sketches off iconic models.
But for me, this book comes alive as a reference guide. All the key scooters in the range are given some space, with technical and model images (so much technical data for the old models), as well as a description of what each was about.
From the 1946 Vespa 98 to the modern era and the 2018 Vespa Elettrica. This is probably the only guide to the range you need and the photos of each model are just stunning.
As I said, it pushes through right to the modern era. And so it should. Yes, we all love the vintage models of the 1960s and they are given plenty of coverage. But unlike Lambretta, Piaggio has pushed on with the Vespa and kept it relevant over the decades. Ok, you might not like the ’twist and go’ models, but a lot of people do. Which is why Piaggio is still in business with the Vespa.
Also, whatever you think of the Vespa post-1960s, it’s just interesting seeing the gradual timeline. The way Piaggio has moved forward whilst still keeping one eye on the past.
Plenty more here too. There’s a section all about Vespa’s advertising, which is, as you would expect, packed with some tasty vintage examples. Also, a section on movie appearances, Of course, Roman Holiday gets pride of place. It puts Vespa on the map. But there’d a passing mention of Quadrophenia too.
The book finishes with some imagery of Vespa worldwide, racing models and customised Vespas too, which is perhaps a surprise. What it doesn’t include is a dedicated section on the relationship between the Vespa and Mods. Maybe it’s something the authors didn’t know enough about or perhaps it isn’t something Piaggio wants to trade on in 2020. I honestly don’t know. But for me, it’s an obvious omission.
Minor criticism though. This is a lovely book and if you have an interest in the Vespa, this is definitely ‘Christmas list’ material. Something substantial to keep you occupied over that quiet period between the big day and the new year.
The book is out now and retails for a discounted £21.99. You can order a copy from the Amazon website.