The original Vespa scooter was launched in 1946 and, through its exposure in Hollywood, quickly became one of the most iconic designs of the 20th century. Its distinctive look and signature features included floorboards and front wings to protect riders in wet and cold conditions – attributes that would later prove attractive to a new wave of customer.
The Vespa also has a cherished place in the history of English Mod subculture. As continental style rose in popularity amongst the youth in sixties Britain – desperate to escape the too-familiar styles of their upbringing and generations before them – so too did the popularity of Vespa. Many Mods would use motor-scooters allowing them to get home from concerts and clubs after public transport had stopped running for the night.
The appeal of the Vespa in particular was the clean-lines, curving shapes, gleaming chrome and weather protection. Mods would also treat scooters as a fashion accessory, and often began to customise them by painting them in distinctive colours, accessorising them with luggage racks, crash bars, and scores of mirrors and fog lights. Some mods added four, ten, or as many as 30 mirrors to their scooters while others put their names on the small windscreen. Sometimes they would take the engine side panels and front bumpers to electroplating shops to get them covered in highly reflective chrome. This spirit of adornment is a recurring theme in the work of Bunney.
The Bunney Vespa is closest in design to the legendary original Vespa. Produced in the house colour of Bunney Grey, the scooter features racks on back and front which are loaded with lights. These lights have been handcrafted in the London workshops; bezels have been planished by hand, creating Sterling Silver peaks, before being hallmarked at the Assay Office. As with many Bunney pieces, the hallmark is enlarged and prominent, forming an integral part of the design.
The hammered metal effect has been used throughout the scooter, on the distinctive Sterling Silver mirrors as well as accenting rear lights and footplates. The leather seat has been produced by hand in Japan using leather from Scotland, matched to Bunney leather seen in stores. To finish the look, the Vespa is adorned with the Bunney brand name in Sterling Silver, hallmarked and placed proudly on the sides and front.