Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
The Vespa is an Italian design icon, and in the hands of Portuguese carpenter Carlos Alberto, it received a one-of-a-kind makeover. The original Vespa was designed by Piaggio employee Corradino D'Ascanio, an aeronautical engineer with a knack for designing helicopters. In an attempt to translate his know-how to the road, D'Ascanio was commissioned by Ferdinando Innocenti to design a simple and sturdy vehicle. After quarreling with Innocenti about materials, D'Ascanio took his design to Enrico Piaggio and produced the first Vespa scooter in 1946.
One day, I was in bed with the flu and being visited by two friends, and I told them I would build a wooden bike, however, they said that I must be delirious.
Since that time, the Vespa has gained international appeal for its affordability, fuel economy and classic styling. People all over the world fell in love with the Vespa after Audrey Hepburn rode side-saddle on Gregory Peck's scooter in Roman Holiday, and its sophisticated European allure continues to draw in a diverse and fanatic ridership. More than 50 years later, Alberto was inspired to make his own after reading about an Italian carpenter who built wooden bikes.
Despite his enthusiasm, the early stages of the Daniela project were met with skepticism, Alberto says. "One day, I was in bed with the flu and being visited by two friends, and I told them I would build a wooden bike, however, they said that I must be delirious." Undeterred, Alberto found support from members of his motorcycle club and started work on making a wooden bike in February 2001. A friend and owner of a drugstore where Alberto was going to buy materials suggested he try to make a wooden "wasp" ("Vespa" is Italian for "wasp").
Basing his creation on the silhouette of Vespa model VN1 1951, Alberto glued the first pieces of the wasp with the help of his wife Grace and his daughter Daniela, the bike's namesake. "Due to the structure of a wasp with open framework, it got me some difficulties, but I was arranging solutions, time and money," Alberto says. "We were ready in 2004, and had almost everything ready to go, but in September of that year, I had a serious accident where I stopped for 11 months. [I] returned to start the project in mid 2007." And in 2008, The Vespa Daniela was officially completed and ready to ride.
Maximum speed: 75km / h
Engine: 123.67 cc
Woods used: rosewood, ebony, beech, satin-wood, Brazilian cherry, tacula, panga-panga, sucupira, and sycamore