Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Awesome Aussie Vespa dealer

Les Smith, importer, and Vittorio "Tony" Tonon.

The wonderful world of internet. I started chatting on the forum of Vespa Riders Club of Australia. I asked about some old Vespas and was directed to the site of the Vespa dealer Vespa House in Melbourne.
And discovered some amazing pictures from the about the late fifties, Vespa House was established in 1956 by italian immigrant Vittorio "Tony" Tonon.
I got in contact with his grandson Dean Tonon, who with his brother Jemahl is running the business nowadays while their father Frank keeps an eye on things.
Dean has let me publish the pictures here on my blog.
- Tony, everybody called him that, and my father Frank and our mechanic Johnny, established the company. We're just happy to continue, Dean says.
Tony is riding pillion in the top picture, at the handlebar is Les Smith, manager for the Vespa importer Bruce Small.
Dean's uncle Bruno Tonon was also involved.
- He worked with them in the early days. He even met his future wife, Ingun from Gothenburg (!), in the workshop. I think that Ingun was riding a Lambretta at that time.
The mechanic Giovanni "Johnny" Scriba arrived 1959 at the age of 20 in Melbourne and the year after he started to work for Vespa House. And he is still helping out!
The pictures are actually in colour, but heavily faded after over 50 years. I decided to show them in b/w instead.
Look at the awesome Holden "Ute"or "Utility"car with two kids outside the workshop. With the inscription "Tony's Vespa Towing Service". I bet it was handy, but was it good for business? Does Vespas really need towing?
Holden was the Australian subsidary of General Motors, since 1931. I think the one below is the FJ Holden Utility 1953-1956 (Aussies, feel free to correct me!).

Bruno Tonon outside the workshop.
A wonderful Holden "Ute", a pickup affiliated with General Motors.
They serviced both Vespa and Lambretta. Faro basso far right.
They even had a Vespa 400! Missed the girls name.
And an Ape!

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