Osa M50 scooter, 1961
"The Osa M50 and M52 scooters are the only Polish mopeds designed for batch production.
Works on the design and production of the Polish scooter started in the Progress and Sports Department of the Warsaw Motorcycle Factory (WFM — Warszawska Fabryka Motocykli) by engineers Krzysztof Brun, Jerzy Jankowski and Tadeusz Mathia in 1951.
From the group of discussed designs based on already manufactured elements of motorcycles that were produced in Poland, the OSA model was eventually selected. Unlike other proposals (and scooters from Western European countries), it had better suspension and larger wheels with a diameter of 14 inches. The size of the wheels was important because, even though Polish roads were getting better and better, they were still unsatisfactory. Larger wheels allowed the rider to cope with inclinations and holes in the road without damaging the vehicle and risking the rider’s health.
Although the communist rulers of Poland were initially against the production of such vehicles, considering them an unnecessary luxury and ‘a gadget of jaded capitalists’, thanks to the press and the successes of Polish sport riders of WFM, the production of the OSA was successfully launched in 1959.
However, there were problems with a lack of supplies, typical for communist Poland. There were not enough pipes for the frame and telescope construction and the pressed steel sheets had to be brought to Warsaw from the Łabędy Steelworks in Gliwice.
Initially, all scooters were beige. It is difficult to say whether it was the idea of the designers or the result of the above-mentioned problems with supplies. Later, other colours were introduced; however, the best ones were produced for export purposes only.
Although they were not very cheap, Polish scooters rapidly became a very desirable and popular item. Even though the scooter was small, the size was not a problem for its users and fans. On the contrary, it was sometimes described as an advantage! The following is an excerpt on how journalist Marek Wachowski described the Osa in the Motor weekly magazine:
'Dear Reader, if your sweetheart sits on your Osa, there will really be little space left for you. And even then you will have to hold onto her tightly, otherwise she will fall off! So, the short seat also has its advantages…'” (source)