A family from Cheshire is celebrating this week after H&H Classics sold a 1951 Vespa Douglas Scooter for a world record price for an unrestored Vespa of this vintage.
The sale at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham achieved a stunning £1.2m sale total which saw fast and furious bidding wars on many of the lots for sale. Some 83% of all items in the sale found new owners. Ian Cunningham of H&H Classics Motorcycle Department said: The family had no idea of the potential value of a small collection of bikes and scooters their father had put together. They initially asked me if the machines were worth anything!”
The scooter is one of the earliest Vespa’s made in Britain under licence to the Italian parent company. It is a 125cc early Douglas Vespa rod type 125, which remarkably has had just one owner since 1955. He used the scooter to tour Scandinavia in 1955.
It was supplied by Colmore Depot, Manchester and will need full restoration, but is solid and original and comes with a V5C and Buff logbook.
This 'Rod Type' 125 was registered on the 9th of May 1951 so must have been a very early one off the Bristol production line being supplied by Colmore Depot in Manchester.
The first Vespas designed by aeronautical engineer Corradino D'Ascanio were produced by Piaggio in Italy in 1946 and proved to be an immediate success, helping the country to get back on its feet after the devastation of WW2. The demand for the scooters was so strong that licensing agreements were signed with various companies around the world, with the Douglas motorcycle company becoming the UK partner.
An Italian-built machine was displayed on the Douglas stand at the 1949 Earls Court bike show but it was April 1951 before production in Bristol began starting a sometimes turbulent relationship that ran until the early 80s.
The model manufactured in the UK was the classic 'Faro Basso' shape but with the headlamp on the leg shields to comply with local regulations and still using the rod type gearchange system being replaced by cables on the Italian-produced versions.