French Italian Microcar: 1959 Vespa 400

Sometimes, even rough and tough car guys and gals need a hug and this 1959 Vespa 400 has its arms, I mean doors, open waiting for you. This cute little French microcar can be found here on eBay in West Palm Beach, Florida with a buy-it-now price of $7,995 or you can make an offer.

I know, almost eight-grand for this little car seems like a stretch, but in restored condition, they can sell for several times that amount. At about 9′-4″ in length, this is one tiny car so how hard could it really be to restore this one?

Ok, it’ll be at least somewhat challenging to bring this car back to being the little gem that it would have been when it was new, 60 years ago. The Vespa 400 was made in France but it was an Italian design with an Italian name. They were made for model years 1958 through 1961.

The interior is interesting, I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the shifter in this car. Is that a piston and a grip from a motorcycle? How fitting for a car made for a company called Vespa to have a twist grip. The seller talks about both of those unusual features, saying that their fabricator did that so they could drive this car around the lot. There is quite a bit of rust work to do on the floors and the seats have seen better days.

The engine, as you may have guessed from the “400” model name, is a 394 cc two-stroke, air-cooled twin with around 14 hp which would have propelled (maybe that’s not the right word) this car to a top speed of around 50 mph. The engine has new seals, a rebuilt crank, new coils and voltage regulator, new bearings, thrust washers and more. It starts and this car drives but the rest of the car needs to be restored. Have any of you owned a Vespa microcar or any microcar?

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Comments

  1. Billieg

    My washing machine has a bigger motor…. and my zero turn….

    3
  2. doug

    Every time I see one of these Vespas I remember the black one with a 454 in the front that was a street car.

    3
    • moosie moosie Member

      I have that black one pictured next to my name here on BF, can you imagine the wild that would be at anything above an idle.

  3. Ken Carney

    Saw that one too Doug. Did you see the
    yellow one on YouTube with the VW engine? It was hilarious watching that
    fellow doing burnouts with it too. This
    car would make a great EV conversion if
    the engine and tranny were missing. As
    it sits, I wouldn’t mess with this car at all.
    It would be restored to original condition.
    After that, I’d source a Vespa 400 body
    shell to do a really nice conversion using
    the latest and greatest in EV technology.
    The suspension would be 4 wheel independent with electric brakes and steering. I’d also use some grippier tires
    to hold the road better after doing all
    those refinements. One thing’s for sure,
    you may never see one like it at your local
    cruise.

    1
  4. pzak

    I’ve got one in my barn. The battery goes in a drawer that is behind that front panel. You just slide it out exactly like a kitchen drawer.Great little car and even smaller than it looks. I paid $3000 for mine a couple of years back and it was in much better condition than this. The man that was famous for restoring these cars and with all the needed parts just retired and closed up shop. Good
    luck finding parts now!

    4
  5. Rube Goldberg
  6. Barry Traylor

    Are the doors the optional braking system?

    3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      HA!

      2
  7. Martin Horrocks

    You can find the parts in Europe. And the good thing woulod be, there aren´t many parts……But this is a ridiculous price. You can buy a good one in France for this kind of money.

    1
  8. ramblergarage

    I have never owned a Vespa but have had 2 different NSU Prinz and they were great little 2 cyl cars. Had one doing 75 mph on the interstate. LOL. Also owned a Subaru 360 which was a piece of junk.

    1
  9. Lance

    The last time I saw one of these it was next to a junkyard on a pole with an arrow and the words”Auto Parts”

    1
  10. chrlsful Member

    “Have any of you owned a…”
    no but I think several looked like this (also minis)
    AutoBianchi, fiat, abarth…ummm…
    or were they all the same just made by different co.s?

    1
  11. Harold whisman

    I had one in 1966 when I was still in the Air Force. I made the comment it would be neat with a Chevy in it. My cousin said I couldn’t do it and that is all it took. I took 59 Chevy rear frame section and 56 front and married them together. Coil suspension all around, stuck 327 with tri-power and 4spd. Driveshaft was 3/4″ long. Had a lot of fun, and got into a lot of trouble. I still have the remnants of it. I hope these pics attach. I can’t get them to attach, if anyone is interested I will post them on my Facebook. Harold whisman in Dillsboro indiana

    1

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