By Dave Turner
A table listing all known models and photographs of some by the Author can be seen after the article.
These budget level machines were briefly mentioned in an earlier article. They were conceived in order take advantage of the absence of regulation for 50cc motor cycles in Italy and a few other countries. Previously the realm of mopeds Piaggio created these diminutive but similarly ‘Vespa-styled’ scooters to grab a bit of the market. They became known by the term ‘smallframes’ to distinguish them from the established ‘full-size’ Vespas and from their initial introduction in 1962 became big sellers and lasted into the 1990s, by which time over 4 million had been sold around the world.
In 1964 two variants of the 50 were produced, the 50N and the 50S, the latter boasting 4 speeds, and in 1972 it was still going strong with four versions selling well. The Special and Elestart had square headlights while the 50N and Sprinter retained the traditional circular pattern.
Models of the smallest engined Vespa have come in all sizes from 1:43 to 1:12, the smallest being the little plastic item from Vitesse that often accompanied a 1:43 Fiat 500 although the example here came in its own box marked ‘1955’ for some reason. A tad larger are the 1:32 examples of the 50SS from CLM while slightly bigger again at 1:24 is the 50 Elestart from Mercury and the 50s from Tamiya, the latter forming part of a plastic collection called ‘Campus Friends’ comprising five figures and a kit to build the Vespa.
Maisto/Edicola are the principle makers of little Vespas and they have provided 1:18 scale 50s in regular; 50L Luxury: 50 special and Elestart versions.
A 1:13 diecast 50R found by the Author has no makers mark visible, the box must have been mislaid, and the make regrettably forgotten. A fraction larger at 1:12 are the Minichamps 50R and 50 Special, while these weren’t inexpensive, at least £25, they do offer removable both engine cover and spare wheel behind the apron.
IN 1964 the 90cc version arrived, the larger engine in the small light frame providing much livelier performance. Spanish built versions of the 90 were imported into the UK, the little 50cc not being sold here until 1968. A 90SS Super Sport version arrived in 1965 and provided a performance that could match 200cc engined machines. They featured narrower legshields while the spare wheel was located between the riders knees, topped off by a dummy fuel tank that doubled as a toolbox.
Models of the sporty 90SS in 1:32 came from both New Ray and Hi Tech while in the larger 1:18 size Maisto/Edicola have produced the 90 Sella Lunga as well as the 90SS.
An even bigger engine was put into the smallframe Vespa in 1966 when the 125 version arrived. This was called the Primevera and developed into the 125 ET3 – indication electronic ignition and a third port in the engine layout, and eventually the ET3 Vintage.
Starting with the smallest, New Ray did a 1:32 scale ET3 while the inevitable Maisto/Edicola operation offered the 125 in both Primevera and ET3 forms.
The many models of these ‘smallframe’ Vespas reflect the number of variants in the series. Even though there is very little significant visual difference between many of the models it is interesting to see that what small changes took place are reflected in the various models. For example, the shape of the speedometer, the design of tail light and location of toolbox are all depicted – if you know what to look for.
|Edicola||China||AC017||90 Sella Lunga||1:18||diecast|
|Maisto||China||39540||90 Sella Lunga||1:18||diecast|
|New Ray||China||57553||125 Primevera||1:12||diecast|
|Edicola||China||AC007||125 Primevera ET3||1:18||diecast|
|Maisto||China||4276||125 Primevera ET3||1:18||diecast|
|New Ray||China||6047||125 Primevera ET3||1:32||diecast|
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page, or email us at maronlineeditor @ gmail.com.