At the end of WWII, most Italians, badly affected by the war, lacked modes of transport, and more importantly, the financial means to acquire full-sized
four-wheeled vehicles. In 1947 the inventor of the Vespa, aircraft designer Corradino D'Ascanio, came up with the idea of building a light three wheeled
commercial vehicle to power Italy's economical reconstruction, an idea which found favour
with Enrico Piaggio, the son of the firm's founder, Rinaldo. The
very first Ape model and the mark immediately following it were mechanically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear, with a flat-bed structure on top
of the rear axle. In the early
sale brochures and adverts the vehicle was referred to as the VespaCar or TriVespa and cost 170.000 liras. The first Apes
featured 50cc, 125cc or 150cc and more recently 175cc engines. By the time of the 1964 Ape D a cab was added to protect the driver from the elements.
The Ape has been in continuous production since its inception and has been produced in a variety of different body styles in Italy and India.
Controlled with scooter style handlebars, the original Ape was designed to sit one, but can accommodate a passenger (with a tight fit) in its cab. A door
on each side is provided, making it quicker to get out of the vehicle when making deliveries to different sides of the road. Performance is suited to the job
of light delivery, with good torque for hills but a low top speed, which is irrelevant in the urban settings for it was designed. Outside of towns Apes are customarily
driven as close as possible to the curb to allow traffic to pass.