12th Jul, 2023 11:00

National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands

  Lot 3

1951 Vespa Douglas Rod Model

Sold for £3,680

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: MOD 812
Frame No: Not visible
Engine No: 0711199

  • Many original parts present
  • Extremely original with buff log book
  • Very rare early model dated at July 1951 (Veteran Vespa Club)
  • V5C and desirable transferable registration number
  • Full history

The first time a Vespa was seen in Great Britain was on the stand of motorcycle manufacturer Douglas at the 1949 Motor Cycle Show. The scooter was discovered in Italy by Douglas managing Director Claude McCormack when the company was in the hands of the official receiver. The Vespa presented itself as a solution to the British company’s problems and a deal was made with Piaggio to begin production of the Vespa under license in Bristol, England, starting with the ‘Rod model’ launched in March 1951. The rod model was slow to market and featured the same eternal design as the 1949 Italian ‘Bacchetta’ save for the position of the headlight. Douglas were that far behind in development terms launching a year late and only producing 300 scooters per month by 1952. The result in today’s international collectors market is that British-built Douglas Vespas have in recent times emerged with a really special rarity and collectability status. Only 11,848 Douglas Vespa Rod models were produced between April 1951 and 1954 when the Model G arrived with its cables. It is believed only around 100 Rod models survive.

This very original early example number 1,199 produced in the first four months of British Vespa manufacture, has never left the Torbay area since new. Registered new on July 11th 1951 to a John Trevor Corp of Torquay. He sold it in January of 1954 to a Monica Whitehouse of Paignton who sold it to Gwendoline Leigh, also of Paignton. It was purchased by a Christopher Dent of Paignton in 1963 who sold it to our vendor for the princely sum of £2 in 1964. It has been with the current owner for 59 years. He informs us it was well used by himself as a young man around the Torbay area. The amateur overpaint was applied by the vendor himself some 59 years ago. We are informed that the front mudguard was cut-down deliberately as the style of the era was of removing elements to impress those who sometimes rode backwards as pillion on the Torquay seafront.

The scooter is very complete and we noticed that many of the very hard to find and expensive parts are still present. With this example one needs to look beyond the first glance. On close examination we can see the panels throughout are in generally good solid condition save a split on the top of the leg shield, left side rear floor has a split and the aforementioned front mudguard has been cut. The handlebars and rod connectors, levers, headlight rim and many other parts appear to be the originals. Rare parts include; the original ‘fish’ exhaust, the original plastic Douglas horncast badge, the correct original Smiths speedometer ending 900, complete with speed drive. We were unable to see the frame number but believe it may be present under the brushed over paint. Other important parts such as the original carburettor and engine are all present and the engine does turn over with normal compression. The original steering lock with original key is present and functions. It even has the original fuel filler and oil jug.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Diamond
07768 313001


All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


Auction: National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands, 12th Jul, 2023

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



Bidding will take place live at the venue, online via our website, by telephone and commission. 

Parking and entry into the auction is free for auction attendees with a catalogue, available at the door.

To enquire about entering your motorcycle or vintage scooter into auction please call our sales office on 01925 210035, email sales@HandH.co.uk or click the Get A Valuation button. Valuations are complimentary and without obligation.

To take part in the bidding please click 'Register to Bid | Sign In' at the top of the page




Wednesday 12th July 2023, from 9am

View all lots in this sale

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