If you saw my recent review of The Complete Book of BMW Motorcycles, this book will be familiar: same format, same author. Ian Falloon knows his motorcycles is a well-respected author about them. In this book he presents a complete look at Moto Guzzi from the beginning a hundred years ago until the present day. No stone is left unturned as every Guzzi is covered from the most basic small bikes to the racers and even some futuristic concepts. This is a fabulous resource for any Moto Guzzi enthusiast and is available from Motorbooks.

The best part of this book is that we’ll be giving it to a lucky fan at Italian Car (and Motorcycle) Day, November 7 2020 at Ferrari/Maserati of Atlanta! Come out and see lots of belissimo cars and motorcycles, and who knows, you might be the lucky winner of this book! Ferrari/Maserati of Atlanta is located at 11875 Alpharetta Highway in Roswell GA. See you there!

Our friends at Motorbooks know that I’m an enthusiast of two-wheeled machines as well as four-wheeled, so when they sent me a copy of Vespa Style and Passion, I knew I was in for a treat. 2020 Is the 75th anniversary of the Vespa brand, so this book is well-timed and will thrill many readers. I was thrilled as soon as it came out of the box- Vespa is known as an icon of style, and this beautiful volume is very stylishly designed with a light and inviting layout and cheerful colours. But just like its subject, there is substance beneath the style. Let’s take a peek inside.

Authors Valerio Boni and Stefan Cordara have impeccable credentials as moto-journalists, with a combined 71 years of experience in the field, having written many books and magazine articles about many marques. Their skills and experience show well in this book.

Despite being over 200 pages, the book only has three chapters (which, in fairness, are divided into a few more sub-chapters). The first chapter opens with some background on the evolution of the Piaggio family businesses, starting in furnishings for ships and progressing through railcars and into aviation, becoming the leading aviation manufacturer in Italy. After WWII the company needed new business and saw an opportunity in fulfilling war-ravaged Italy’s immediate need for affordable transportation. The design that became the Vespa scooter was revolutionary, following an intuitive approach that was centered around the human user. This groundbreaking design also incorporated some technical brilliance, such as aircraft-derived suspension, a forced-air system for engine cooling, and interchangeable wheels. The original Vespa concept was so good that it is still used today and has been copied for decades.

The sketches that started it all.

The second chapter is the largest, one subchapter of which contains roughly half of the book’s page-count in a section detailing all the models from 1946 to 2020. You’ll find everything here from the 98 that started it all, the GS that was made famous by the Mods of the 1960s, and many, many more variations on the original theme, right up through the current Elettrica, and electric-powered model that can be connected to a smartphone. And the original theme still shines through and still works brilliantly. There is also a section about Vespa’s advertising and communications.

Every model is detailed.

The third chapter is perhaps the most interesting, as it deals with Vespa’s impact in the world- from movies and fashion to serious travel and customisation and art and even racing. Yes, there IS such a thing as scooter-racing! For me, the big take-away from this chapter is that something that started as a utilitarian tool to meet a specific need in a defeated country was so elementally good that it can’t die, and that despite what seems at first like a design that does so little, the Vespa has become so many different things to so many different people. These qualities are what make Vespa a true icon, and this book beautifully presents that iconicness.

Ciao bella!

No book about Vespa would be complete without documenting Vespa’s cultural significance.

Ben and Mickey are enthralled by a stack of books we’ve received from Motorbooks. And we’re giving them away. If you’d like to receive one of these books, visit The Thing About Cars’ website, and find the blog entry titled “Motorbooks Giveaway!” There you’ll find a link to a form where you can register to win the book of your choice. Winners chosen completely at random. Thank you for being a part of the TTAC family!

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