Model: 400 Turismo (Cabrio Coach)
Origin: Fourchambault, France
Production: 1957 – 1961 | 8,717 (’59)
Engine: 24.0 in two stroke I2
The Vespa 400 is a rear-engined microcar, produced by ACMA in Fourchambault, France, from 1957 to 1961. The car’s design was created by the Italian scooter company, Piaggio. Two different versions were sold, the “Lusso” and “Turismo.” The car made its high-profile public debut on September 26, 1957 at a press conference staged in Monaco. The ACMA directors ensured a good attendance from the press by also inviting three celebrity racing drivers to the launch.
The cabriolet fabric roof could be rolled back from the windscreen header rail to the top of the rear engine cover leaving conventional metal sides above the doors. The 400, developed by a leading producer of motor scooters, comes with a two stroke (motorbike style) engine which required oil to be added to the gasoline. A fully automatic fuel mixing device wasn’t added until 1960.
Similar to other auto manufacturers of that time, most companies and their factories concentrated on the production of aircrafts for the war. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio’s founder Rinaldo Piaggio, was determined to keep his business afloat once the war was over. He did this by designing a car that was affordable yet could also maneuver Italy’s war-torn roadways. The result was a very small, two-seater named the Vespa 400.
Approximately 34,000 Vespa 400s were produced from 1957 through 1961.