The name means wasp in Italian. The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter to a full line of scooters.
From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines, in a unified structural unit, a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard providing foot protection, and a front fairing.
In 1944, Piaggio engineers Renzo Spolti and Vittorio Casini designed a motorcycle with bodywork fully enclosing the drivetrain and forming a tall splash guard at the front. In addition to the bodywork, the design included handlebar-mounted controls, forced air cooling, wheels of small diameter, and a tall central section that had to be straddled.
Officially known as the MP5, the prototype was nicknamed “Paperino” (either “duckling” or “Donald Duck” in Italian.)
Piaggio was displeased with the MP5 and contracted aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, to redesign the scooter. Upon seeing the MP6 for the first time, Enrico Piaggio exclaimed: “It looks like a wasp!”