LONDON: The world's oldest Vespa, a hand-crafted scooter that featured in the 1953 Audrey Hepburn blockbuster movie 'Roman Holiday', is up for auction and is expected to fetch up to 300,000 euros.
The scooter, with chassis number 1003, is the third Vespa ever made by Piaggio, the Italian manufacturer.
The scooter is from Piaggio's '0 series' which comprised of 60 prototypes. The first two prototypes no longer exist. "We hope this Vespa will end up in the hands of a collector or in a museum that will protect this piece of Italian history for future generations," said Davide Marelli, Vespa expert at Catawiki, an online auction site.
The scooter was hand-crafted in 1946 and is in working condition. It is expected to raise between 250,000 to 300,000 euros.
The history of Vespa dates back to the end of the World War II. Piaggio was originally a manufacturer of warplanes, but they were no longer allowed to continue production after the war because of Italy's collaboration with the Germans. As a result, Piaggio's management team redirected manufacturing efforts to the now-famous scooters.
From 1946 onwards, Piaggio became known for its Vespa scooters that quickly became popular in Italy.
In 1953, the release of the Audrey Hepburn movie 'Roman Holiday' – a movie that features the scooter in a prominent role – put Vespa on the path to today's cult status. As is the case with some cars, Vespa scooters have become increasingly valuable over time.
"Thanks to a huge fan base, old Vespa scooters tend to keep their monetary value," said Marelli. "A Vespa scooter from the 1970s, for example, can be worth five times as much as its original retail price. The older the Vespa, the more valuable it is," he said.
The auction is currently underway and will continue until March 28.