Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Vespa 46 Prototype unveiled

At the EICMA 2011 International Motorcycle Show in Milan (Nov 10-13), Piaggio unveiled a new, retro-futuristic prototype Vespa model. Named the Vespa Quarantasei (46 in Italian), it gets its inspiration from the MP6 prototype for the original Vespa, from 1945.

Restored Vespa MP6 prototype, 1945
1945 Vespa MP6 prototype

According to Piaggio, the production model will come in two versions. Both versions will have newly designed air-cooled, fuel injected three-valve four-stroke engines. One will be a 125cc version, with 11.6 horsepower and 7.6 pound-feet of torque. The other will be a 150cc version, with 13 horsepower and 9.3 pound-feet of torque.

Vespa Quarantasei
Design-wise, the prototype has nice, minimalist design along with some interesting features:

The handlebars end in wing-shaped LED turn signals, have ergonomic, hand-stictched leather grips and the brake levers have no visible pivots, cables or hydraulic lines (internally wired). The speedo and odometer readout has been incorporated into the top of the headlight, as well.
Vespa Quarantasei bars
top handlebars
handlebars detail

It also features a hanging seat, reminiscent of the original seats, but stylized and elongated.
Vespa Quarantasei seat
seat detail

It has a large headlight projector, that seems to have a more powerful lamp than current models.
headlight detail
headlight detail 2

It also has an almost entirely horizontal LED taillight on the engine cover that appears to surround the gas cap.
rear view
rear view 4

Other ways that the new design takes from the original 1945 design, is in the ventilation louvers placed in the bodywork encasing the engine, and in the bend of the front legshield and the way it integrates directly into the floorboard, in a traditional, vintage Vespa style monocoque all metal body.
front (show)
Vespa 46
Vespa 46 3/4 view

The rear of the scooter also closely resembles the original "wasp" like tail more closely than any other of their modern designs.
back rear view
rear view 3

It also has traditional trailing-link front suspension.
linkage detail

And, in another tip to the vintage Vespa style, the wheel hubs have been made to look more like classic vintage Vespa hubs.
front hub

Some things that won't make it to the production model are the stylized bars and taillight, along with the fact that the prototype does not have a license plate mount at all. But, it will be interesting to see the final incarnation of this model, inspired and more closely matched from Vespa's early design roots. Piaggio says the Vespa Quarantasei will be produced before the end of 2012, so start saving your pennies NOW, if you're so inclined to get one after reading this.
side view (show)