The Petersen Automotive Museum Auction | Lot 177

1956 Piaggio Vespa Calessino

$30,000 USD | Sold

United States | Los Angeles, California

8 December 2018

Frame No.
Engine No.
AB4T 32448
  • Beautifully presented example
  • Rare Giardinetta (Calessino) model
  • An iconic Italian scooter

Enrico Piaggio’s intent was to offer an easy-to-use, economical, and versatile vehicle, a light transport for the working man, alongside his revolutionary personal transport, the Vespa scooter. He commissioned his talented and creative engineer Corradino D’Ascanio to once again come up with a solution, a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle affectionately named the bee, or Ape.

The first version of the Ape debuted in 1948 and was essentially an open 125-ccVespa scooter with a two-wheeled, hydraulically braked chassis in place of the rear wheel. Any number of bodies could be erected on it, the most iconic being the beechwood and masonite-framed Giardinetta (later called the Calessino). The model “B” followed in 1952, with a 150-cc motor. The Ape’s incredible adaptability to design variations remained, and the initial eight rose to 20 different body styles by 1958. Eventually the Ape would come to be recognized as making a decisive contribution to the revival of trade and goods transport during the rough years of reconstruction following World War II. A symbol of Italy at work, it became a huge success around the world, thanks to its incredible handling and superlative payload/tare ratio.

Built by Piaggio under several different brands, the buggy-like Vespa Calessino version offered here is among the relatively scarce examples remaining, fewer yet in North America, and is an especially charismatic and evocative style, designed to accommodate both passengers and their goods.

This delightful and rare little buggy is a wonderful symbol of Italian perseverance and charm.

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