The Vespa Club of Melbourne was originally conceived by Les Smith who was a Manager working with Malvern Star (Bruce Small Pty Ltd) in the 1950s. With the popularity of the film Roman Holiday and the sudden huge interest in scooters - Malvern Star through Les began importing Vespas into Australia. The idea of a Club came to fruition in May 1957.
Vespa House had also only recently opened in Collingwood in 1956, so Tony Tonon was soon onboard and became an active supporter for the rest of his life. Fittingly, Frank Tonon of Vespa House is the Patron of the current Club.
Joan Bourne was elected to the first Committee in 1957 and wrote this short history for a Club reunion in 1986.
"Inaugural meeting held 31 May 1957 with 22 members following the idea first put forward by Mr Les Smith. With Mr W.R.B (Kelly) Small as our Liaison Officer as the driving force behind it, the Club grew from a membership of 90 at the end of its first year to a peak of 290 in May 1960 (then the largest scooter club in the Southern Hemisphere). Membership was 75 in January 1964 and the Club apparently folded around 1970. Records show a well organised Club with high standards. Day trips and interstate trips were usually led by the Club Captain, guided by corner men, kept in order by patrol men, with stragglers tendered to by Tail End Charlie. Activities during the busy years included day trips, interstate rallies and camps with other Vespa Clubs, mystery runs, sports days, navigational trials, scavenger hunts, maintenance days, formation of a precision riding and display team, Moomba processions and other parades, theatre nights, rotating parties, social evenings, general meetings, formation of our own football team and table tennis team, production of revues, publication of our own magazine 'Vespaper' and the 'Camp Capers', voluntary work in aid of Yoorralla Childrens Appeal, and acquisition of Club Rooms. The club was run by a committee, with up to five sub committees."
Members of the original Club still get together to reminisce at an annual Christmas lunch, and many are still members of the modern club. In particular, we recognise John and Sandy Dynon for their work in carrying the club through the 1960s, and now into the modern era.
The modern Club was conceived by Frank Tonon in 2007, and was invigorated by a new group of enthusiasts in 2010 who have proudly grown the Club back to its former glory. The Club is once again the largest scooter club in Australia.
< Frank Tonon of Vespa House, with the first President of the modern Club, Julie Pond.
Vespa Club of Melbourne - A History in Pictures