Revolutional Personal Transport: 1953 Piaggio Ape Calessino

The first version of the Ape debuted in 1948 and was essentially an open 125-cc Vespa 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.

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