Lambretta Scooter
The World's Finest Scooter
         

 

Fate Bought and closed by BLMC
Successor Scooters India Limited
Founded 1947
Defunct 1972
Headquarters Flag of Italy Milan, Italy
Key people Ferdinando Innocenti
Industry Scooter
Products Lambretta and Lambro
Parent Flag of Italy Innocenti

Automobile Products of India / Scooters India Ltd

The Indian government bought the factory for essentially the same reasons that Ferdinando Innocenti had built it after the War. India was a country with poor infrastructure, economically not ready for small private cars yet with a demand for private transport. Automobile Products of India or API, set up at Bombay (now Mumbai) and incorporated in 1949, began assembling Innocenti-built Lambretta scooters in India post independence. They eventually acquired licence of the Li150 series 2 model, of which they began a full-fledged manufacture in India from the early sixties onwards. They redesigned and renamed the same model as the "Lamby 150", following their loss of the licence over the "Lambretta" brand name that was acquired by Scooters India Ltd. The Lamby 150 was complemented by a short-lived indigenous version of the TV 175 series 2, badged as "MAC 175". During the early 1980s, API also manufactured the last remodeled version of their Lamby, called as Lamby Polo. Lamby Polo was a 150 cc scooter, which looked sleek with sharp corners and edges, but this was a big flop in the market, and very few were manufactured. API has infrastructural facilities at Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Chennai but has been non-operational since 2002. In 1972, Scooters India Ltd., or S.I.L. a state-run enterprise based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, bought the entire manufacturing rights of the last Innocenti Lambretta model, the GP 150. Production began a couple of years later. The Indian GP versions however were renamed as the "Vijay Super" despite S.I.L's rights over the Lambretta brand name. They stopped producing scooters in 1998. Scooters India Ltd. production now centers on a 3-wheeler pick-up truck powered by the Lambretta engine, named as "Vikram".

Founded 1972
Headquarters Flag of India Bombay / Lucknow, India
Industry Scooter
Products Lambretta, Lamby, Vijay, Vikram, Lambro
Website Scooters India
Today

Scooters India forward sold the Innocenti / BMC derived patents, brand and manufacturing rights to an Indian businessman, who planned to start production again in Korea with BMW engines for the European market, but 2-stroke Vespa engines for the American market. In light of environmental legislation, this was simplified to an all new line up of BMW powered machines in the 50cc to 150cc range.

Scooters India in 2003 licensed Khurana Group USA LLC to manufacture and distribute scooters in the United States under the Lambretta brand. The first release in 2008 includes a contemporary design 49cc DUE50, a 49cc UNO50 and a 150cc UNO150.

There are still clubs across Europe and the UK, both national and local clubs, devoted to the Lambretta scooter. The clubs still participate and organize ride outs and rallies which regularly take place during weekends over the summer months and have high attendance, some rallies achieve 2,500 paying rally goers. Across the UK there are many privately owned scooter shops which deal with everything Lambretta, from sales, services, parts, tuning, performance and complete nut and bolt restorations.

The Lambretta scooter is constantly growing in value, their rarity and increased demand means that a standard LI 150 series 3 (known as the standard scooter) in good condition will fetch over £3,000 ($5,950) whereas the rarer models of Lambretta e.g. the TV200 in mint condition has been sold for sums of up to £12,000 ($23,750).

In Brazil, “lambreta” is used as a synonym for “scooter”, being listed at the Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, one of the country’s main dictionaries, as a noun / substantive.

The small village of Rodano, near Milan, hosts the biggest Lambretta museum in Europe and the Innocenti archives. In the collection are also several non-Lambretta scooters, including some first models from the 1910s and US Army scooters parachuted over Normandy in 1944. In Weston-super-Mare, England, there is a Lambretta Scooter Museum which houses a total of 61 Lambretta models - at least one from each year between October 1947 through to May 1971. It also houses a large amount of Lambretta memorabilia. This museum and collection was sold in early 2007 and re-opened on 8 August 2008 following refurbishment.

 

Construction and Models

Like Vespas, Lambrettas have 3 or 4 gears and two stroke motors with capacities ranging from 49cc to 198cc. Most two-stroke engines require a mixture of oil with the gasoline in order to lubricate the piston and cylinder.

Unlike the Vespa, which was built with a unibody chassis pressed from sheets of steel, Lambrettas were based around a more rigid tubular frame, although the 'J' series model produced from 1964 through 1971 did have a monocoque body. Early versions were available in 'closed', with fully covered mechanicals or 'open', with minimal panels and thus looking like an unusual motorcycle. The model A and model B were only available in 'open' style. The D models were noted for their torsion bar rear suspension, the D model outsold every other 2 wheeled vehicle combined at its peak. (For the latter, see Ruth Orkin's famous photograph American Girl in Italy´.) The much greater success of the 'closed' version confirmed that riders wanted protection from the weather and a clean looking machine.

Along with the Vespa, Lambretta was an iconic vehicle of the 1950s and 1960s when they became the adopted vehicle of choice for the UK youth-culture known as Mods. The character Jimmy from the influential scooter movie Quadrophenia rode a Lambretta Li 150 Series 3. Of the 1960s models, the TV (Turismo Veloce), the Special (125 and 150), the SX (Special X) and the GP Grand Prix are generally considered the most desirable due to their increased performance and refined look, the 'matt black' fittings on the GP model are said to have influenced European car designs throughout the 1970s. These three models came with a front disc brake made by Campagnolo. The TV was the first production two-wheeled vehicle with a front disc brake in the world.

 

Links

 

 

Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Innocenti but also manufactured under licence by Société Industrielle de Troyes (S.I.T.) in France, NSU in Germany, Serveta in Spain, API in India, Pasco in Brazil, Auteca in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina. In 1972, the Indian government bought the Milanese factory and the rights to the Lambretta name, creating Scooters India Limited (SIL). Today, the Innocenti brand name rights are owned by Fiat whereas the oldest Lambretta and Lambro trademark registrations are owned by Lambretta Consortium and are licensed to various companies who want association with the iconic brand.

History

In 1922, Ferdinando Innocenti of Pescia built a steel-tubing factory in Rome. In 1931, he took the business to Milan where he built a larger factory producing seamless steel tubing and employing about 6,000. During the Second World War, the factory was heavily bombed and destroyed. It is said that surveying the ruins, Innocenti saw the future of cheap, private transport and decided to produce a motor scooter – competing on cost and weather protection against the ubiquitous motorcycle.

Concept

The main stimulus for the design style of the Lambretta and Vespa dates back to Pre-WWII Cushman scooters made in Nebraska, USA. These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by Washington as field transport for the Paratroops and Marines. The US military had used them to get around Nazi defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.

Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D'Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job by Ferdinando Innocenti of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver's clothes soiled.

The design

D'Ascanio, who hated motorbikes, designed a revolutionary vehicle. It was built on a spar-frame with a handlebar gear change and the engine mounted directly on to the rear wheel. The front protection "shield" kept the rider dry and clean in comparison to the open front end on motorcycles. The pass-through leg area design was geared towards women, as wearing dresses or skirts made riding conventional motorcycles a challenge. The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The internal mesh transmission eliminated the standard motorcycle chain, a source of oil, dirt and aesthetic misery. This basic design allowed a series of features to be deployed on the frame which would later allow quick development of new models.

However, General D'Ascanio fell out with Innocenti, who rather than a moulded and beaten spar frame wanted to produce his frame from rolled tubing, there by allowing him to revive both parts of his pre-War company. General D'Ascanio disassociated himself with Innocenti and took his design to Enrico Piaggio who produced the spar framed Vespa from 1946.