The Original Indian VespaIt is said that Rahul Bajaj adored the famous Vespa scooters made by Piaggio of Italy. He loved them so much that at the age of 22, he became the Indian licensee to produce vespa. In 1960 Bajaj, pronounced "Bah-jaaj," obtained a manufacturing license from the Indian Government. Under licence from Piaggio, Bajaj Auto Ltd started production of vespa 150 identical to the Italian VBA 150cc model built in Italy between 1958-1960. The original factory facility in Kurla was not up to Piaggio's standards, so a new one was built in Akurdi, near Pune in 1963, the scooters were produced entirely in India, without any parts needing to be shipped from Italy.
But on 31st March 1971 the technical collaboration with Piaggio & Co. expired and the brand name of the vehicles manufactured by the company was changed from Vespa to Bajaj from April. This followed a lengthy legal battle with Piaggio for many years.
The Indian Vespa had a 3 speed engine, round back monocoque chassis, 8" solid wheels and had no battery. Its is also said that the metal chassis was a thicker grade than that of the Italian made ones. They had an oval speedo but from 1966 these were changed to a round speedo. Over 150,000 genuine vespa badged and licenced scooters were build by the Bajaj factory. Their chassis and engine number started with V252, V402 or V462.
Today many examples still exist on the busy road of India, testiment to their build quality. Bajaj went on to manufacture very similar looking scooters for many years on under their bajaj brand with models such as Chetak, Classic, Super and Cub until 2006 when production of scooters by the company ceased. But none had the looks and styling of the original vespa !