June 16, 2009

Vespa Ape

A little history

Almost as much a part of Roman scenery for decades than its two-wheeled cousin the Vespa (“wasp”) scooter, the Ape (“bee”) is its commercial trike variant. It engaged in a large number of roles and, due to the existence of a Piaggio factory in France, was almost as popular across the Alps as it was back home.

Many versions of the Ape existed over time, powered by engines of various capacities, though 125 cc has perhaps been the favourite. In France, the Ape (which was never called such there) was particularly popular with the postal administration, which used large fleets of successive models, and small merchants, particularly on markets. It found other uses: I remember that during my time in the French Air Force, my unit had an Ape at its disposal for delivery of light items around the base – unfortunately, everyone preferred to drive vans around, so the poor Ape, though in perfect condition, stayed idle in a corner of a hangar for the whole time I spent there.

About the model

Model: Vespa AC4T
Year: 1963
Maker: Universal Hobbies
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Atlas as no.14 of its Véhicules postaux d'hier et d'aujourd'hui press series
Acquired: brand new, in October 2005, in Souillac, France

Model cars don’t sell per kilo... and it’s much better that way, as this tiny insect would cost a fortune! Indeed, this small thing is beautifully detailed, which fully justify the same price as for any other model… More seriously (not much more though), I cannot see my Ape without thinking of my friend collector who loved it so much after seeing it that he joked he would move into our apartment in order to stay near it. Well, that’s the beautiful thing about it: everyone in the hobby is talking about Ferraris or Lamborghinis, but put a Vespa Ape on your shelf and it will prove much more eye-catching. My rating is 14/20.

Note that a more recent version (from around 1977 I think) of a postal Ape was released later in the same series, though I haven’t got any (yet…).





No comments: