Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Vespa family: Great Britain – Douglas

Licensed produciton of the Vespa in Great Britain began in 1951 at the Douglas works in Kingwood, near Bristol. Two engine displacement were again offered, 125 and 150 cc with the last also available in GS form. Production ceased in 1957, with a total of 126,000 examples having been sold. While it was not as economical a machine as it was in Italy, the British Vespa enjoyed a degree of success and was widely used by the police forces.

It also became an essential part of the Mod lifestyle, as seen in the cult film Quadrophenia. The sales strategy adopted in Britain saw the Vespa positioned as a high quality vehicle, with highly elegant and bowler-hatted aristocratic figures being photographed with their scooters (and even with their chauffeurs).

In this period the Vespa became an extremely fashionable vehicle and numberous clubs were soon founded. In 1953 there were no less than 60 Vespa clubs with over 3,000 members. In the July of that year a national rally was organised at Brighton with over 500 Vespisti taking part. Many important British trendsetters were also photographed on their Vespa: from the Duke of Edinburgh to the Formula 1 driver Stirling Moss.

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