BK Micro Car Collection BK GROUP - Helsinki
Creation of Ferdinando Innocenti

Lambretta 125 - 1953

Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally

manufactured in Milan, Italy, by Innocenti. 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   worldwide   are   owned   by   SIL.   Lambretta   scooters   were   also manufactured   under   licence   by   Fenwick   in   France,   NSU   in   Germany,   Serveta   in   Spain,   API   in India, Yulon in Taiwan, Pasco in Brazil, Auteco in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina.


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.   The   factory   was   heavily   bombed   and   destroyed   during   World   War   II.   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.


The   main   stimulus   for   the   design   style   of   the   Lambretta   and   Vespa   dates   back   to   pre-World   War II   Cushman   scooters   made   in   Nebraska,   United   States. These   olive   green   scooters   were   in   Italy   in large    numbers,    ordered    originally    by    the    United    States    military    as    field    transport    for    the paratroops   and   marines.   The   United   States   military   had   used   them   to   get   around   German 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   onto   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   and   dirt.   This   basic   design   allowed   a   series   of features   to   be   deployed   on   the   frame   which   would   later   allow   quick   development   of   new models. However,   D'Ascanio   fell   out   with   Innocenti,   who   rather   than   a   stamped   spar   frame   wanted   to produce   his   frame   from   rolled   tubing,   allowing   him   to   revive   both   parts   of   his   pre-war   company. D'Ascanio    disassociated    himself    from    Innocenti    and    took    his    design    to    Enrico    Piaggio    who produced   the   spar-framed   Vespa   from   1946   on.   The   final   design   of   the   Lambretta   was   done   by aeronautical   engineers   Cesare   Pallavicino   and   Pier   Luigi   Torre.   Pallavicino   had   been   Technical Director   at   the   Caproni   airplane   factory   during   World   War   II   before   working   on   the   Lambretta design. Torre   was   an   engine   designer   at   Italo   Balbo's   Idros;   he   designed   the   engine   and   organized Innocenti's factory for mass production.

Into production

Taking   a   year   longer   to   produce,   the   1947   Lambretta   featured   a   rear   pillion   seat   for   a   passenger or   optionally   a   storage   compartment.   The   original   front   protection   "shield"   was   a   flat   piece   of aero   metal;   later   this   developed   into   a   twin   skin   to   allow   additional   storage   behind   the   front shield,   similar   to   the   glove   compartment   in   a   car.   The   fuel   cap   was   underneath   the   hinged   seat, which   saved   the   cost   of   an   additional   lock   on   the   fuel   cap   or   need   for   additional   metal   work   on the smooth skin. Deriving   the   name   Lambretta   from   the   small   river   Lambro   in   Milan,   which   ran   near   the   factory, Innocenti   started   production   of   Lambretta   scooters   in   1947,   the   year   after   Piaggio   started production   of   its   Vespa   models.   Lambrettas   were   manufactured   under   licence   in   Argentina, Brazil,    Chile,    Colombia,    India    and    Spain,    sometimes    under    other    names,    but    always    to    a recognizable design, e.g. Siambretta in South America and Serveta in Spain.

BLMC closure of Innocenti

As   wealth   increased   in   western   Europe   in   the   late   1960s,   the   demand   for   motor   scooters   fell   as the   small   car   became   available   to   more   people   and   Lambretta   started   to   struggle   financially,   as did    parent    Innocenti.   The    British    Leyland    Motor    Corporation    took    advantage    of    Innocenti's financial   difficulties   and   their   production   and   engineering   expertise   and   contracted   Innocenti   to produce   cars   under   licence   from   BLMC.   The   Innocenti   Mini   used   the   mechanical   components   of the original, but was in many ways superior to it. Innocenti/Lambretta   was   eventually   sold   to   BLMC.   Unfortunately,   lack   of   foresight   had   caused BLMC   to   join   a   fashion   trend   that   was   ending   rapidly.   Long   industrial   strikes   in   BLMC   ensued; motor-scooter sales declined sharply, and both Innocenti and Lambretta closed shop in 1972. 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   (API)   began   assembling   Innocenti-built   Lambretta   scooters   in   India after   independence   in   the   1950s   beginning   with   48   cc,   Ld   model,   Li   1st   series.   They   eventually acquired   a   licence   to   build   the   Li150   Series   2   model,   which   was   sold   under   the   Lambretta   name until   about   1976   and   later   on   changed   the   name   to   Lamby   for   legal   reasons.   They   also   for sometime   made   and   sold   Lambretta   TV   175   series   under   the   name   of   Mac   175.   Scooter   India   Ltd acquired   the   entire   Innocenti   Unit   in   1972.   API   also   built   the   trademark   model   [API-175]   three- wheeler   which   was   based   on   Innocenti's   Lambro.   API   continued   to   build   Lambretta-derived models until the 1990s but have been non-operational since 1993. In   1972,   Scooters   India   Ltd.   (SIL)   a   state-run   enterprise   based   in   Lucknow,   Uttar   Pradesh,   bought the   entire   Lambretta   manufacturing   and   trademark   rights.   Former   Innocenti   employees   were used   to   set   up   an   Indian   factory   as   all   the   manuals   and   machinery   instructions   were   in   Italian. The   first   scooter   built   was   the   Vijay   Delux/DL,   which   was   badged   the   Lambretta   GP150   in   export markets.   This   was   later   enhanced   to   become   the   Vijay   Super.   Further   improvements   were   made in   the   final   years   of   production   by   incorporating   a   contemporary   Japanese   CDI   unit   and   an advanced   front   suspension.   SIL   also   distributed   complete   knock   downs   that   were   assembled   in different   parts   of   India   and   sold   as   the Allwyn   Pusphak,   Falcon,   and   Kesri. These   were   of   a   lower quality than the SIL-produced models and sometimes incorporated significant styling changes. SIL   production   seems   to   have   peaked   during   the   financial   year   1980–81,   with   around   35,000 scooters   being   built.   However,   by   1987   this   had   dropped   to   around   4,500   units   with   production finally   ceasing   in   1997.   As   of   2011,   SIL's   production   now   centres   on   the   Vikram   3-wheeler, powered   by   the   Lambretta   engine.   SIL   also   produces   limited   spares   for   the   GP/DL   range   of scooters.

Current production

In   2010   Lambretta   returned   to   125   Grand   Prix   racing   in   order   to   gain   publicity   for   its   new   range of   scooters.   This   was   the   LN   range,   launched   in   2011,   with   styling   inspired   by   earlier   models. These   scooters   are   assembled   in   Taiwan   by   SYM   Motors   and   use   their   single-cylinder   "twist   and go"   engine   and   transmission   unit.   However,   the   scooter's   steel   body   panels   are   manufactured   in Italy.


There   are   still   clubs   across   the   world,   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. 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. In 1997 the UK-based Lambretta Clothing brand of clothing and accessories was founded.


Engine 125 cc 2-stroke
Photos mainly by Matti Kreivilä. Historical facts and technical details of the vehicles provided by Wikipedia. Movies YouTube.