12th Jul, 2023 11:00

National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands

  Lot 43

1952 Vespa ACMA 125 V51
Extremely original

Lot details

Registration No: Unregistered
Frame No: 32966
Engine No: 13350
MOT: Exempt

  • Very rare model in the UK
  • Extremely original including paint
  • Engine turns with good visible spark
  • Original French document
  • Correct numbers for a V51
  • NOVA for V5 for UK registration

The Piaggio industrial group was devastated by the consequences of World War 2. Amongst the projects muted to rescue the company was an idea to help mobilise the Italian public with a new transport concept ‘The motor scooter’. 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.

The Vespa did not go unnoticed internationally and a few early VIT examples were imported or trialled by various individuals in several European countries prior to 1950 including France. A group of investors in France led by Prince Marc de Beauva-Craon formed Sarl ACMA (Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Accessoires) in May 1950 with the intention of licensing the Vespa from Piaggio. The company was well capitalised and swiftly set up a large factory at Fourchambault near Nevers in a huge defunct aviation factory. The relationship between Piaggio and ACMA was close from the beginning and scores of Italian engineers were sent as advisers during the set-up of the license between the two companies.

In June 1950, sales of directly imported Vespa versions V13T, V14T and V15T were sold by ACMA and in the latter part of 1950 alone some 1176 Italian units were sold. In the early part of 1951 some 2200 more units arrived in parts and were assembled at Fourchambault as French production started properly in March as the first V51 Vespas using these predominantly Italian parts. After these, all subsequent scooters were entirely French produced. Up until now these were all ‘Bacchetta’ models or ‘Tringles’ in French with gears shifted by rods and were direct replicas of the 125cc Italian models. The only exception was the position of the headlight and the use of larger French-made lenses front and rear and a higher positioned headlight unit stipulated by the French authorities. Only the French manufacturers CIBIE and AUTEROCHE were licensed as acceptable lighting products. The headlight fixings were made to fit directly to the top of the steering column. Only with the release of the V53 at the end of 1952 did the scooter have its own cast headlight and speedometer housing. (This was adapted back by the Italians themselves when they launched the ‘Struzzo’ some years later). ACMA was initially a successful enterprise passing the 100,000 units sold mark as early as 1954 and even manufacturing a small car the Vespa 400. Despite all of the early success the company faced a series of setbacks at the end of the 1950s. Declining scooter sales, fierce market competition and other small cars on the market, from more established manufacturers, forced the business into liquidation and the factory site was purchased by SIMCA in 1961.

The V51 was first introduced in March 1951 with the characteristic ‘bug eye’ headlamp as a ‘Tringle’ (rod geared model) with production running until September 1952. After the first 2200 models, the rod gear change was adapted to cables from serial number 3311 until 35611. A total of only 32,300 examples were produced. It is believed that there are less than a handful in the UK.

This example is one of the last V51 models produced and is in extremely original condition. First registered on 11th July 1952, and sold by the dealer E. Antras from Muret near Toulouse, we can see by the vehicle declaration document that it was owned by Mr Julia, a farmer, Mr Julia in the Haute Garonne region of southern France since at least February 1958. On inspection we note that the engine was replaced at some time in its life, with a genuine V51 motor, an earlier one. We can deduce that the scooter was kept in very good workable condition with an impressive 47k km accumulated on the original Veglia speedometer. Throughout the machine, we can see original parts are still in place, notably original brass wheel nuts, original rubbers, ACMA Paris badge and correct undamaged lights. The panel work is very straight and solid, save for a split at the top of the leg-shield and appears to be in original paint with no touch-ups visible. The ‘Running-In’ decals are remarkably still visible inside the leg shield. The area of the registration number area, however, has been painted over. The original E. Antras dealer slides are visible on the rear of the body and on the front of the leg-shields. The control switch is an Ardor accessory. The hand grips are more recent as is the rear tyre, which we are told was put on to be able to move it. Our consultant was able to do a spark plug test at the time of consignment, with a healthy spark visible. The wheels and brakes functioned and were free. It is possible that with a fuel tank service and fuel system clean this scooter would basically function.

The ACMA V51 is regarded highly in collectors circles. The absolute replication of the early Italian models, but with the unique headlight set up, was a one-off design that was never repeated. This is a rare opportunity to acquire an in-demand model that seldom comes up for sale.

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

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