The CoffeeDeLux mode of transport is the idiosyncratic Ape (pronounced "ah-peh" - Italian for bee) a three-wheeled light commercial vehicle first produced in 1948 by Italian motor company Piaggio.


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 aircraft designer Corradino D'Ascanio (the inventor of the Vespa scooter), developed the idea of a light three wheeled commercial vehicle to power Italy's economical reconstruction. The idea found favour with Enrico Piaggio, the son of the firm's founder, Rinaldo. The very first Ape model was mechanically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear and 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 lira. The first Apes featured 50cc, 125cc or 150cc 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. The Ape is produced in India by Piaggio India where it is is most commonly found in the form of an autorickshaw or ‘Tuk-Tuk’.


Controlled with scooter style handlebars, the original Ape was designed to sit one, but can also 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 in urban environments. It has a low top speed with good torque for hills. The Ape is a common sight in Italy where its compact size allows navigation of narrow city streets and easy parking virtually anywhere. It's also often seen at the roadside where the load area is used as an impromptu market stall by farmers.


The vehicles comes in various configurations such as vans and pickups for load carrying and autorickshaw (Tuk-tuk) for human transportation. More recently Piaggio have made lifestyle models such as the Ape Cross Country and the Ape Web aimed at the young.


The Ape is a valuable promotion tool - it's distinctive looks helps draw attention to a brand or business and judicious livery and graphics can add individuality. Even advertising hoardings can be mounted in the load bay. The Ape can be seen used by everyone from delivery firms to police forces!


A limited edition retro styled Ape named the Calessino was recently launched. The bodywork is close to the Ape of the 1950s and 1960s and was designed to evoke nostalgia the era of dramatic economic growth in Italy known as La Dolce Vita.





 

... and here’s our 50cc engine with a top speed of approximately 25mph (but it makes a lot of fuss getting there!)