Out of Print Vespa Coffee Table Books

Over the past several years, there have been quite a few coffee table books which have been published on Vespa scooters. These books do not seem to have a long publishing life, and most of them have gone out of print fairly quickly. There have been so many of them, that I have not really been able to buy them all. Some are really good, and some, not so good. Here are a few of the ones that I have picked up over the years.

(Published 1998) The "Vespa Technica" series books are the best Vespa books ever published in my opinion. There isn't much text, but honestly, the pictures tell the whole story. These books cover every Vespa model from beginning to end. There are five books in all, though one covers only special racing models and other oddities, and another covers only the P-series and later scooters. The pictures are excellent, and show quite a few details of all the models. The books themselves are hardback, and printed on heavy paper. These are the Vespa bible, without a doubt. It is a shame they are no longer in print. If they are not printed again, years from now, people will be looking hard for these books. If you are serious about your interest in Vespas, these books are essential - especially volumes 1-3.

(Published 1986) "Motorscooters" is probably the first book I became aware of which covered the history of the scooter. Calling it a book is kind of generous, it is more of an oversized pamphlet clocking in at 32 pages. However, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in breadth and foresight. This book really covers a lot of ground at a time (pre-internet) when getting good reliable information on the very obscure brands of scooter covered was very difficult. This little book was very cheap when it was new, and can probably be found used for a reasonable price even today. There is not a lot of detailed Vespa-specific information in this book, but people with an interest in some of the more odd-ball scooters will probably enjoy it.

(Published 1993) This is a book that I found in Germany many years ago. It appears to be a translation of a book that was originally printed in Italy. "The Leggendary Vespa, A History of the Most Loved Scooter" covers a lot of territory. It has basic statistics and information on each Vespa model as well as a section on the special factory racer models. It also has a pretty good history of Vespas. Next, there is a section on maintenence and repair, which is pretty unique in a hardcover book like this. Finally there is a section on basic riding instruction. All in all, it is a pretty informative book. This is in German, and I'm sure there is an Italian version. I have never seen this book in an English translation.

(Published 1995) "La Vespa" was a softcover Vespa book which was available in the U.S. for a short time through various scooter shops. It is in Italian, so I can't really comment on the text since I don't read Italian. However, this book has quite a few pictures. It seems to be focused on the early years of Vespa, which is of particular interest to Italian collectors. There are some nice pictures of some of the very early models, and some later rare scooters like the 90 Super Sprint. There is also a nice photo chapter on the pin up calendars, with photos of about five full calendars - neat! There is also a chapter on scooter racers, and it has a quite a few interesting pictures of scooters racing in the 50's.

(Published 1996) "Un Miracolo Italiano" is a small softcover book, which is written in Italian. The first half of the book appears to be a general history of the scooters. There is a chapter on Vespas around the world, as well as another on the Vespa club culture. The last part of the book is a pictoral of the various Vespa models. Most of the scooters pictured apear to be excellent un-restored examples. The pictures of the various models are good, otherwise, you'd have to read Italian to want this book.

(Published 1996) This book, "The Cult of Vespa" was published by Piaggio to help commemorate the 50th annaversary of the Vespa's production in 1996. It is an interesting book in that it takes a very different tack on the subject. Sure, there are a lot of nice vintage pictures of scooters in it, and there are the almost obligatory reprints of the pin-up calendars... but there is also a lot more here. Piaggio invited several prominent Italian professors, intellectuals, and authors to write essays which touch on the impact the Vespa had on society. Through each person's individual perspective, the book explores various themes on the Vespa and Italian life. This is a high quality book, printed on heavy paper. The pictures are superb. The only criticism I have is that it should have been published in hardcover. If you can find a used copy, it is well worth picking up.

(Published 1997)This is part of a series of small books put out by a German motor book publisher. It appears to have recently gone out of print. This one focuses mainly on Vespas produced in Germany. It has a few pages of text to give a background on Vespa production, but the rest of it is reproductions of vintage Vespa brochures. Even if you don't speak German, this book is a nice one to have. The very early brochures from German Vespa production are very interesting. They give you a sense of how different the Hoffmann-era, and later German production Vespas were from the Italian versions.

(Published 1999)"Scooterrama" is a breezy soft cover coffee table book which is short on information, but has a lot of good color photos. This book covers the height of scootering's popularity in the 50's and 60's for about half of the book, and then moves on to modern scooters in the second half. The book has some good picturs of various old scooters, and has some interesting shots of some scooters brands you may not have seen before. Most of this information is better covered in the "Scooter Bible" book which is currently in print. I am not that interested in modern scooters, so the second half of the book is kind of lost on me, but it may be of some interest to others who have modern scoots. There is not a lot of information relating to Vespas in it. Not the best book I have read, but you really have to love the picture of the Vespa G.S. VS1 on the cover.

(Published 2000?)"Vespa, The End of Vintage Model" is a book that a friend of mine got on a trip to Thailand a few years ago. It is an interesting amalgam of different books and magazines. It is obvious that copyright laws are not particularly serious in that part of the world, because much of this book is clearly copied from other sources. The second half of the book is from "Vespa, an Illustrated History," but it is credited as such. The first part of the book is a photo montage of various models in chronological order. The photos appear to be taken from Piaggio books, Scootering magazine, or from the Japanese magazine Vespa Vivace. I can't really comment on the text, since I don't read Thai. Still, "A" for effort in putting this together. It has a fanzine look to it, and I'm sure was produced by someone who loves the scooters.

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