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1953 Douglas Vespa 125 G-model

The Douglas company of Kingswood, Bristol, commenced motorcycle production in 1907. By 1948 it was effectively bankrupt, actually going into receivership that year. When on holiday in Italy that year the Managing Director, Claude McCormack, caught sight of a Vespa and soon made arrangements with Piaggio to build it under licence in Bristol.

The early Vespas were almost entirely built in Britain. The Douglas Foundry churned out items such as engine bearers, clutch covers and cylinder heads, whilst from the machinery shop came gear clusters, brake drums and much else besides. Most of the pressings were made by Pressed Steel in Birmingham. After the introduction of the 152L2 model more parts were sourced from Piaggio. The Douglas factory was always, however, more than a mere assembly plant.

Vespa production ceased in 1965 after 126,230 units had been completed. Douglas continued to be the British importer of Vespas (models such as the GS had always been imported) until 1982. The Douglas Vespas were the only scooters to be built in really large quantities in Britain, and Douglas themselves took a keen interest in supporting their product and scootering in general.

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