The Vespa legend began as soon as the scooter was launched: as early as 1946 (the debut year of the famous two-wheeler), many Vespa enthusiasts began organising clubs and associations. These early Vespa Clubs, formed first in Italy, later abroad, recount a seventy-year story of passion for the Piaggio two-wheeler. A story that led in 2006, the 60th anniversary of the Vespa, to the creation of the Vespa World Club, which handles coordination and promotion functions for the world’s Vespa organisations.
The purpose of the VWC, whose creation was promoted by Piaggio, was to capitalise on the best experiences and initiatives organised by Vespa riders around the world (in every continent, from Europe to America, Asia and Africa), in order to strengthen the role of national partnerships and provide support for all the Vespa Clubs.
Today, there are 49 national Vespa Clubs associated with the VWC, for a total of about 60,000 members. Even so, it is impossible to quantify the number of Vespa devotees, or the number of internet pages and social channels dedicated to the world’s most famous and best-selling scooter. Every year the national Vespa Clubs and thousands of fans meet up for the big event, “Vespa World Days”, which this year was held in Saint Tropez (see previous article).
The “predecessors” of the VWC merit a mention: the “Vespa Club d’Europa” founded in Milan on 8 February 1953, by a unanimous vote of the delegates representing the national Vespa Clubs in Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland, in order to coordinate and develop initiatives and relations among Vespa riders in different countries. Two months after the European club was formed, the six founder countries were joined by Austria, Denmark, the UK, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. This was followed by the creation of the “Vespa Club Mondial”, subsequently re-named Fédération Internationale des Vespa Clubs (which was disbanded at the end of 2005).
The development of associations among Vespa riders was closely linked to the growing popularity of the Vespa on the international markets: in 1953 there were already more than 10,000 Piaggio service stations around the world, in Europe, Asia and America, and the Vespa Club already had over 50,000 enthusiastic members who spread the image of the scooter and documented the efficiency of the commercial and service network.
A RARE PHOTO from the early 1960s, a corporal riding a Vespa 125 at an RAF base in the Maldives, on the island of Gan in the southern Addu Atoll.
In 1948, during the Milan Trade Fair, the national Vespa Clubs organised a “silver swarm” rally, a reference to the typical silvery green colour of the first Vespa 98. This early major rally attracted extraordinary coverage. In 1951 the Italian Vespa Day was attended by 20,000 Vespa riders.
During the 1950s, a huge variety of competitions, regional and national rides were organised, in and outside Italy (among the most notable were the Tour of Switzerland, the Three Seas Tour on a 2,000 km route, the Women’s Audax, the 1,000 km Vespa ride). Events re-evoking those historic adventures are still organised today.