Built with the typical Italian eye for design, Vespa scooters rolled off the production line in the 1940's as an alternative to the motor bike. The Vespa had it's main mechanical parts shielded from the rider by a metal casing. This allowed the rider to enjoy a dirt free ride and proved to be very popular in Italy where Italians always have a desire to look elegant and stylish under any circumstances.
As a consequence, Italians were able to zip round post war Italy on their Vespa scooters smartly dressed and probably wearing their Raybans with a cigarette hanging from the corner of their mouths.
The "Vespa look" was tailor made for the silver screen and before too long the Vespa started appearing in Italian movies such as Fellini's La Dolce Vita.
Hollywood soon followed and Vespa scooters appeared in a number of high profile movies such as An American in Paris, The Conversation and American Graffiti. The Vespa played a prominent role in the British movie Quadrophenia which sparked a new craze for the Vespa in the U.K.
Many of the world's top movie stars rode around on Vespa scooters. Charlie Chaplin, Ursula Andress and Louis Armstrong all owned a Vespa. More recently the Vespa is favoured by Jamie Oliver, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke was even arrested for drink driving whilst on his Vespa !
2008 is proving to be a particularly successful year for Vespa scooters as it benefits from the rising popularity of scooters across the globe. Scooters are far more economical than cars, able to deliver between 70 - 120 miles to the gallon (an average family car would probably reach 40 miles to the gallon) ! In today's climate of volatile oil prices then it's not difficult to see why scooters are considered the greener alternative for the city commuter.
In London, scooters are also exempt from the congestion charge and cost less to put on the road than motor cars. If you work in the city then a scooter could be the answer to your commuting problems.
And with inner city driving then a scooter is an ideal way to get to work. No more wasted hours queuing in traffic jams and that wonderful feeling of satisfaction as you overtake all the standing cars to get to the front of the traffic queue.
The smaller sized Vespa's come in 50 cc and 125 cc categories and the minimum age to ride one is 16 years old and 17 years old respectively.
Anything above that and you are looking at a "motorcycle class" licence i.e. 150 cc upwards. Unlike 50 cc scooters which are factory restricted to a top speed of 30 miles per hour the more powerful scooters such as a 150 cc or a 250 cc perform at the same levels as a motorbike.
With motorists being taxed off the road in recent years then a scooter makes a very sensible alternative even if only used for commuting. If you are tempted with scooters then Vespas are believed to be the "Rolls Royce" of scooters and with Vespa accessories such as goggles and Vespa style open faced helmets on the market you will also be the coolest cat in town.