THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE APE (1948-2018) MARKS THE ARRIVAL IN BOOKSTORES OF A BOOK DEVOTED TO THE INCOMPARABLE PIAGGIO THREE-WHEELER: A FASCINATING TRIP DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS, WITH HISTORICAL FACTS AND ODDITIES; A TRIBUTE TO THE ICONIC ITALIAN PRODUCT FAMOUS AROUND THE WORLD.
The first person to be surprised was the author, Giorgio Sarti (a Milan-born engineer, journalist, Vespa rider, writer about motorcycles), when he discovered that no book had ever been written about the legendary Piaggio three-wheeler, created from a “rib” of the Vespa, cataloguing all the models produced since its inception. So he decided to do something about it himself, as he tells us in the introduction to the book APE PIAGGIO 70 ANNI/70 YEARS (published by Giorgio Nada Editore), which appeared in the bookstores for the 70th anniversary of the Ape (1948-2018). Sarti writes: “As a Vespa devotee, I’ve always liked the Ape…” and “after buying all the leaflets I could find at the various fairs-marts… I wondered, are they all there? In other words, has someone ever catalogued all the Apes?... So I started looking for a book on the Ape, covering the entire production, right from the very first model…” and found that no one had ever written one.
The unforgivable “gap” has been splendidly filled by Sarti, who says he had great fun writing this fascinating book, which he dedicates to the long-lived and industrious Ape everyone loves. The author also observes: “if people had to vote for the most cheerful vehicle that had ever been produced... the first prize would probably be won by the Ape. Because in its pursuit of maximum functionality, making no concessions to form, it manages admirably to combine the two elements as no other road vehicle has done.”
A vintage Ape Piaggio advertising: “Capable of everything!”
The book, illustrated with hundreds of photos (from the Historical Archives/Piaggio Foundation and from Piaggio & C. Spa), with a bilingual text (Italian and English), consists of nine chapters: History, Technology, Style, The 50cc Model, Communication, The Great Journeys, Clubs and Rallies, Special Models and Overseas Markets, Historical Memory, ending with a catalogue of the models with their spec sheets. Published by Giorgio Nada in the publisher’s thirtieth anniversary year (1988-2018), the book looks set to become the key reference text for the Ape; a vehicle whose 70-year history intersects – as the author shows – with culture, customs and society (not just in Italy), extending beyond its primary function of industrial product to become an iconic product that overrides barriers of time and geography.
20 YEARS AGO: EUROASIA EXPEDITION 1998 BY PAOLO BROVELLI AND GIORGIO MARTINO: 25,000 KM FROM LISBON TO BEIJING ON TWO APE TM 703, ONE OF WHICH IS DISPLAYED IN THE PIAGGIO MUSEUM IN PONTEDERA (PISA).
PUBLISHER’S PRESENTATION. “The book on the Ape that had never been written until now, packed with illustrations from the Piaggio archives, and complete with a systematic catalogue of all the models produced to date. In the postwar period, Italy had to be reconstructed, economic resources were scarce and the country lacked a vehicle able to adapt to the new business conditions. The market consisted on one hand of large, expensive trucks, on the other of small low-cost motorcycles, but neither were suitable for shopkeepers. Everything changed in 1947 (just a year after the debut of the Vespa) with the presentation of the Ape, which was an immediate huge success, and manufactured in an infinite variety of models: from the open pick-up to the model with enclosed cab, from the tip-up van to the trailer model, from the version for passengers to the model for firefighters.
10 YEARS AGO: THE APE HAND-PAINTED BY SICILIAN ARTIST ROBERTO CAPUTO (2008), DISPLAYED AT THE PIAGGIO MUSEUM IN PONTEDERA (PISA).
The success story still continues today, and includes special models fitted out for the Pope and the President of the Italian Republic. Until now, no book had analysed the Ape phenomenon in its entirety. This volume presents the full story and technology of this timeless vehicle, as well as examining its style and related communication – the Ape has been a media phenomenon in the movies and on TV – and also the great intercontinental journeys of which the legendary three-wheeler was a formidable protagonist. Finally, in addition to the production numbers, the book also includes the first complete catalogue – with illustrations – of all the models manufactured to date, each one complete with a detailed technical spec sheet.”
THE PINK-LIVERIED OSCAR-WORTHY APE FROM THE PRIZE-WINNING MOVIE “GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL” DIRECTED BY WES ANDERSON (2014) AND MENTIONED IN GIORGIO SARTI’S BOOK.