Wednesday, 15 November 2006

O' Me

O' Me

Not being self obsessed, this is me! Taken outside of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). A white Vespa scooter often parks at the outside. I have used one of its dirt stained mirror for my self portrait. The round mirror gives a sense of minimalistic or maybe, the original Vespa feeling. Mum, now you cannot say that there is no picture of me in my website.

The Vespa is a line of motor scooters that was first manufactured in Pontedera, Italy in 1946 by Piaggio & Co, S.p.A

Piaggio continues to manufacture the Vespa today, although the Vespa was much more widely used in the 1950s and 60s, when it also became the adopted vehicle of choice for the UK youth-culture known as Mods. The classic Vespas had unibody chassis pressed from sheets of steel, with bodywork covering the legs for protection from rain and mud. The direct drive engine was covered completely by a steel cowling to appeal to a broader market of people, often turned off by the dirty/greasy stereotype often applied to motorcycles.

The main stimulus for the design style of the Vespa dates back to Pre-WWII Cushman scooters made in Nebraska, USA. These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by Washington as field transport for the Paratroops and Marines. The US military had used them to get around desperate Nazi defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.

Aeronautical engineer Corradino D'Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle for Enrico Piaggio. The vehicle had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger, and not get its driver's clothes dirty.

"Sembra una vespa!" ("It looks like a wasp!") exclaimed Piaggio president Enrico Piaggio when he first laid eyes on what would become the most successful scooter of all time. The name stuck [1].

Vespa is both Latin and Italian for wasp—derived from both the high pitch noise of the two-stroke engine, and adopted as a name for the vehicle in reference to its body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembled antennae.

When Vespa celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, more than 15 million of the scooters had been sold worldwide, making it the most successful scooter of all time. Other companies vied with Piaggio for market share, but none came close to emulating the success—or romance—of Vespa. The nostalgic image of Vespa, however, could not hide the fact that Vespa was making a loss.


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