The first mass-produced scooter, the Vespa, what means ‘Wasp’ in Italian, was created in 1946 by Piaggio, an Italian aircraft manufacturer. After the end of World War II, Piaggio had a surplus of landing wheels and wing panels, and gave its engineers a quirky but simple brief: ‘Develop a motorcycle which could be ridden by a woman or a priest.’ And so the step-thru scooter was born. Or was it?
Founded in 1901, Cushman Motor Works made engines for industrial and farm use. One of its first engines was a two-stroke for small boats. In about 1936 Cushman decided it could sell more engines if ti made a cheap, easy-to-use motorcycle, and the result was a scooter.