Piaggio Museum

Part One

With Phil Aynsley


I’ve been lucky enough to have had the run of the Piaggio Museum twice – once soon after it opened, in 2000 and again in 2015, after it had been remodelled. Most of the images here are from the most recent trip although I have included a few shots of individual machines from my first visit.

PA Piaggio Museum
Phil returns to the Piaggio Museum in 2015, following a visit in 2000

The museum opened in March 2000 in what used to be the company tool shop in the factory in Pontedera, near Pisa. The 3000 square metres of floor space displays just about every Vespa model ever built plus a range of Gileras and other Piaggio items such as the Treno MC2 de 54 electric rail locomotive from 1936 (Piaggio was the first company in Italy to build stainless steel rail stock, in the 1930s).

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

One particularly nice touch is the way the company archives are housed. You literally are able to walk through the company’s history!

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Two famous bikes greet the visitor inside the entrance. The record-breaking 1937 500 Rondine Carenata and the 1939 500 Rondine GP (click here for the full feature). The Carenata used one of the six bikes acquired from CNA in 1936 as its basis.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – 1937 500 Rondine Carenata

A longer frame, modified wheels and the fully enclosed fairing (developed in Caproni’s wind tunnel) were fitted. In October 1937 Piero Taruffi set an absolute speed record of 274.181kph with the bike, then in 1939 a one hour record of 205kph.

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Piaggio Museum – 1939 500 Rondine GP in the background

A re-creation (using the original furnishings) of Corradino d’Ascanio’s studio – including the MP6 prototype.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Some overall views of the museum interior.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

The 1943-44 MP5 prototype designed by engineer Renzo Spoiti. Known as the “Paperino” (Donald Duck) the MP5 saw very limited production (about 100) before it was superseded by the first Vespa (the MP6 prototype in the background).

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Piaggio Museum – M5 prototype and Vespa M6 prototype

Possibly the most valuable scooter in the world! In 1962 two Spanish students embarked on a trip from Madrid to Athens on their Vespas. At their first stop, in Cadaquez, they met Salvador Dali – who proceeded to decorate their scooters!

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

This 125cc green machine, piloted by three riders, set 17 world records at the Mothlery circuit in France in April 1950. They included: 1 hour – average speed 134kph, 100 miles – average 129.7kph, 500 miles – average 123.9kph, 1,000km – average 124.3kph and 10 hours – average 1,094km.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – The 125cc ‘green machine’ took 17 world records in 1950

One of my favourite shapes! The Siluro was designed in 1951 to break the standing kilometre world record. In February on the Rome-Ostia motorway, rider Dino Mazzoncini broke the record with a time of 21.4 seconds and an average speed of 171.1kph. The very organic design (by Corradino d’Ascanio) used a 125cc water-cooled 2-stroke with twin horizontally opposed pistons that made 17.2hp at 9,500rpm.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum

The single example of the Vespa Alpha was built for use in the 1967 film “Dick Smart, Agent 2007”. A 180 Super Sport was modified by Piaggio and the British Alpha Willis firm to not only be roadworthy but to also fly and operate underwater!

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Piaggio Museum – Vespa Alpha

The very large scale model built in 1977 to promote the launch of the “New Line” models at the Paris Show.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – A large scale Piaggio model for the 1977 model unveiling at the Paris Show

Traffic getting too much for you? You need one of these! The Vespa 150 T.A.P. (Truppe Areo Portate) was built by Piaggio’s French licensee (A.C.M.A.) to meet a French specification to equip paratroop and Foreign Legion units.

Piaggio Museum - Vespa 150 T.A.P.
Piaggio Museum – Vespa 150 T.A.P.

Approximately 600 were constructed between 1956-9. They were fitted with a 75mm recoilless cannon with 6 rounds, 2 jerrycans and a small trolley. (2000)

An Ape used as a fire fighting unit.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – Fire-fighting Ape

A couple of competition scooters. L: 1947 Vespa 48 Circuito. R; Vespa 48 Corsa.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – Competition Vespa scooters

Off road scooters! 1951 125 Sei Giorni (Six Days). One of nine factory entries that won Gold at the 26th ISDT held at Varese.

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Piaggio Museum – Off-road scooters too

1985 T5 Paris-Dakar.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – 1985 Vespa T5

1955 Vespa moped prototype.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – A Vespa moped prototype

Vespa trophy cabinet.

PA Piaggio Museum
Piaggio Museum – Plenty of trophies to the Vespa name

Part Two

PA Piaggio Museum Part big

Piaggio Museum Revisited | Part 2

Piaggio Museum Part Two With Phil AynsleyContinuing the tour of the Piaggio Museum with a look...