15th Nov, 2023 11:00

National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands

  Lot 129

1947 Vespa 98/4

Estimated at £60,000 - £70,000

Lot details

Registration No: Unregistered
Frame No: 13290
Engine No: 12343
CC: 98
MOT: Exempt

  • NOVA number is on file for easy UK registration or export
  • Original parts throughout
  • Correct and verified numbers
  • In excellent professionally restored running condition
  • German papers also present for registration in the EU

Enrico Piaggio inspired by the Cushman scooter used by the US paratroopers and seen in the Italian campaign of WW2 engaged aeronautical engineer Corradino d’Ascanio normally associated with inventing helicopters the job of designing a scooter. D’Ascanio did not like motorcycles and designed the new vehicle from scratch with a vision for clean reliable personal transport for both men and women. During trials the buzzing noise of the engine and body shape combined for the scooter to be christened the ‘Vespa’ the Italian translation for wasp. From the first appearance of the Vespa in 1946 it was such a success that it has become a symbol of taste, fashion and style and one of the favourite global design icons of all time.

In April 1946 the first 98 was delivered to a dealer in Rome whilst the last was sold in April 1948 in Naples. It had undergone several incarnations during this time as the design and mechanical performance improved with a total of 15,120 examples being made with chassis numbering running inclusive with the first Ape Furgones. Manufactured with a pressed monocoque sheet steel frame sourced from Alfa Romeo as materials were scarce and sprung front suspension with rubber bushes for the rear wheel and engine. The engine had a horizontal cast iron cylinder with lightweight alloy head. The drive was direct to the rear wheel via cogs with 3 gears and combined clutch and gear change controlled on the left of the handlebar. Much of the mechanical design never deviated throughout the entire history of geared Vespas. However, the front suspension arm dropped down the left of the front wheel. The electrical items including the control switch, horn, headlight assembly, taillight and kill switch were all supplied by FEME (Augusto Basili) and the ignition and flywheel assembly by Filso of Milan. On its 3.5 x 8 wheels the 98 could reach 60 km/h. In 1947 on the 98/3 version an air filter was added to the Dellorto T17 carburettor and the frame number was located on the uppermost post of the frame and the engine number to the crankcase casting above the swinging arm bolt. The 98/4 remained largely identical to the 98/3 but introduced rubber bushes on the swinging arm cross member held in pace by 6 screws with cup washers.

This exceptional example in full working order was produced in late 1947 according to the production records of Vespa historian Paolo Zanon. Our vendor purchased it from a German collector Wolfgang Klopfer who had owned it since 2010. He bought it from an Austrian collector who had had it restored at the highest level of quality. For example, the nitro lacquer paint is highly specialised process and the opaque nickel-plated wheel nuts and other fastenings show exceptional attention to detail as does the zinc-plated silencer. All of these features can only be done with specialised knowledge. It had originally been sourced from Italy where the owner had passed away. During the purchasing process our vendor enlisted the expert eye of Vespa collector Robin Davy to ensure that all was in order with the machine. We can see many original parts in original condition and believe that most of the machine is original throughout and restored. Surprisingly the Rejna seat is in absolutely original condition as it is the FEME control switch. There is an original and correct VDO accessory speedo and overall everything appears to be as it should be and all functioning. We also noted the original front badge, lights and even correct period Pirelli tyres. Our consultant was able to see the scooter running and indeed took it himself for a ride on the road at the time of consignment. NOVA number on file.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Diamond
07768 313001


Auction: National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands, 15th Nov, 2023

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An auction of classic motorcycles & vintage scooters taking place at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull, West Midlands.


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