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Macro Micro Project: Vespa 400

040616 Barn Finds - 19XX Vespa 400 - 2

If you like to pack a bunch of small vehicles into your garage like some of us do (I’m not naming any names), this one may be for you. This is a 19-something Vespa 400! The seller doesn’t list a year, but they were made from 1958 to 1961. Finally, something older than I am; but just barely. It’s located in lovely Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom, home of the National Space Centre. This is what the car above will look like after you’ve restored it. This thing is the bees knees!

040616 Barn Finds - 19XX Vespa 400 - 1

This is a face that only a mother could/would/should love. Of course, people like myself, who love unusual, small vehicles, also love this face; this bumperless face! That wacky oven-door-looking-thing is where the 12-volt battery is hidden. It slides out so you can have access to the battery to put a trickle charger on it when it’s packed into your overflowing storage unit and you keep telling yourself that you may take it out for a spin, “one of these days”.

040616 Barn Finds - 19XX Vespa 400 - 3

This car looks really straight, especially when comparing it to a couple of Vespas that Barn Finds writer, Robert, showed us a few months ago. Parts are still available for these cars, and the power is in the rear; as you most likely already know.

040616 Barn Finds - 19XX Vespa 400 - 5

This engine doesn’t look too bad, believe it or not. Of course, it’ll look better once it’s restored. This car has a two-cylinder, two-stroke, 14 hp air-cooled engine powering the rear wheels. You are correct, the Vespa 400 wasn’t designed or intended for American freeways, so please don’t be disappointed, or mad, that you can’t cruise all day in modern comfort at 75 mph with this car. Not to mention that the top speed of this Vespa 400 is about 52 mph. There were only about 1,700 of them imported to the US.

040616 Barn Finds - 19XX Vespa 400 - 4

You’ll have a bit of tidying up to do in here, and in the rear, too. But, it’ll look nice once you’re done. I’m over two-feet taller than this car is so I don’t know if I’d even fit in there, but I’d sure give it my best shot. This fun little project is listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of £500, or about $700 US dollars. Even at that low price the reserve won’t be met so be prepared to add to your bid if you’ve been looking for a Vespa 400 project. I’ve always wanted one of these, I’m a total microcar fanatic. What do you think, should Vespa have stayed with just making scooters or do you like this funky 400 as much as I do?


  1. Franke

    Looks like this car in when in Rome, a movie with Kristen Bell, yellow with four people in it racing down the sidewalks in the big apple

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  2. Rob

    My dad had one he traded for. Some good memories. At 35 MPH it felt like you were flying. To move it we would pick it up at the fender arches and lift it into a pick up bed.

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  3. Rick

    There’s one of these slowly rotting into the ground in front of a Lumber Yard east of Vancouver BC on the 10 between Cloverdale and Langley. Think I’ve only ever seen one other in real life, there certainly weren’t any of these on the roads in NW Washington State back in the 60s. Kinda cool though, especially around town, for sure not on the hiway unless you could upgrade the powerplant with a high-revving/horsepower motorcycle engine. That would make it a fun and interesting driver, but bring a helmet and Nomex suit

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    • moosie Craig

      Is this its cousin ?

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    • Shiva

      Can you be more specific? I’d like to go see if it’s still there. Who knows… It might be for sale for the right price

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  4. Coventry Cat

    I’ve only seen one here in NH, 20 years ago, in the same shape. Neat car.

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  5. grant

    I’ve never seen or heard of one. Like the scooters I’m familiar with this strikes me as so ugly it’s cute. Awesome find. Thanks Scotty.

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  6. Luki

    I’ve seen plenty of them. All indoors never on the streets. I’d feel safer riding my Vespa scooter than that.

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    • Van

      I think a scooter would win in a head on collision.

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  7. David G

    This is just a guess, but does the “P” on the front emblem refer to Piaggio, the same name i found cast into one of Vespa’s Scooter engines years ago?

    Like 1
  8. Mal W

    Yes. They were made by Piaggio; the same company that made the Vespa scooters

    Like 0

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