4-Stroke V-Twin Moto Rumi…

I *thought* I’d a written a piece all about the Moto Rumi Formichino before… but all I could find in the Lambrettista archives was this post – basically a paragraph, and period photo, and me saying “I thought I’d written a piece about Moto Rumi’s before…” Deja vu, all over again. Another bullet point for the ever expanding to do list!

Moto Rumi Formichino

I’m assuming my audience is familiar with the Rumi Formichino (if you’re not, there’s a picture above). It’s a lovely little scooter from a company based in Bergamo, Italy that made minature submarines and torpedoes for the Italian navy during WW2. Knowing that, gives some context to the unique design language of the Formichino (Italian for Ant, dontcha know). The Formichino did rather well in various sporting events of the day, and has a loyal following even now.

With that rather long-winded introduction out the way, and the Formichino acknowledged, we can now get to the meat of the post. Moto Rumi had plans for a quite breathtaking scooter, that sadly never made it into production. Ostensibly more a ‘traditionally’ styled scooter, with fully enclosed bodywork, the real innovations of the machine lie beneath those glorious streamlined shapes. But before we get to that, lets just dwell on the bodywork for a minute, shall we? Remember, this was 1960. So we’re talking circa LI Series 2 in Lambretta design terms. So this svelte little Rumi was definitely ‘up there’ in the design stakes.

Under the panels there were more innovations…The Rumi having a very neat looking V-Twin, 4-Stroke engine – developed to be also used in the light motorcycles. On a motorcycle of course, you have to worry less about keeping the engine cool, something Rumi addressed by having ample venting cut into the all-steel bodywork, both at the front and the rear… the rear vents of course allowing the hot air to escape.

A look at that V-Twin engine… and a glimpse of exposed chain.

Those rear vents may have got a bit hot, but they look really cool – as is the line of that seat, smoothly merging into the bodywork of the machine at the back – way ahead of the bench seat of Lambretta’s TV’s – in the design stakes at least.

The gloriously funky rear venting in the sidepanels… a rear light that looks like a bit of an afterthought, but to counter that, check out the way that seat glides into the bodywork, Ancelloti style.

Available in 98, 125, and 175cc variants with hand-shift, four-speed gearboxes, these sleek little scooters would surely have given Lambretta and Vespa a run for their money, if they’d make it into production. Sadly, Moto Rumi went bust before that could happen.

The Moto Rumi at the Amsterdam Salone. You can see a Formichino photobombing in the background, trying to get in on the act! There’s also what looks like a go-kart – another market Rumi were dabbling in.

While researching this article, I found out Moto Rumi made another scooter that I was unaware of, the Scoiottolo (or Squirrel), which pre-dates the Formichino. That to do list is getting longer…


Finally, here’s a couple of press pieces from the time. Thanks due once more to regular contributor Darrin Slack, who sent me the pictures and the story of the Moto Rumi’s that never were. The images and press articles are from the Amsterdam Salone of 1961, an important show of the time.


Find out more about Moto Rumi on this site: MotoRumi.IT.

Just some photography of the V-Special. And a couple of questions.

I’ve got a question. At what point do we stop calling the Lambretta V-Special “The New Lambretta”? For the classic Lambretta rider, I suspect it will always be ‘The New Lambretta.”

Anyway, here’s some rather nice photography from the official Facebook page (I’m sure they won’t mind). Any of my readers got one of these? Care to share your experience of owning and riding one? And one last question for Classic Lambretta lovers, (who I suspect make up the majority of my visitors) who were initially sceptical of the “New Lambretta” is the V-Special ‘growing on you’ at all yet? If not, what would it take to change your mind?

I love my classic Lambretta. But if I could have a modern scooter as well, there’s only one option.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the official Lambretta Facebook page, or visit their websites, here: https://www.lambretta.com/scooters or https://www.lambrettascooters.com

The Ultimate BOGOF? Buy this Lambretta, and get a FREE VW Transporter Camper. Oh, and a Caravan.

Well, they put it the other way round in the eBay ad… For some reason they lead with the camper.
Cut and pasted from eBay,

2011 VW T32 TRANSPORTER T5.1 140 TDI CAMPERVAN VERY RARE SETUP ALL IN BRILLIANT ORANGE This camper is in very good condition inside and out. Fully converted with rock and roll bed, TV and Dvd , sink and cooker, fridge with small freezer unit, storage cupboards, removable table, and fully insulated and lined, Full electrics kit including split charge system, 240v hook up, 12v lighting, plug sockets, control panel and usb ports, M1 crash tested rock and roll bed with kick boards and easy access for storage, also has awning VANGO AIRaway SAPERA 2, with blow up air frame, fully carpeted and insulated including black out curtains.

The van itself comes with all usual refinements including, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, hill start assist, remote central locking, electric windows, ice cold aircon, audio head unit with bluetooth, sat-nav, hands free phone, radio, dvd, and cd, and reverse camera, it has tow-bar and electrics, 20″ diamond cut alloy wheels with all good tyres, it drives fantastic, and comes with full service history including cambelt change, M.O.T until September 2021.

Also comes with a fully restored 1962 Lambretta 125cc (tax exempt), this is attached to the rear of the campervan, and can be removed via a ramp system that is supplied, a really nice way to travel around once you have setup camp.

Also comes with a Romini classic retro, 2 berth lightweight caravan, also in fantastic condition.”

This ‘job lot’ comes in at £32,000. Which, when you add up everything you’re getting here, is not actually that bad. Here’s the eBay link. Pics below.

Just to save you scrolling back, here’s that eBay link again.


Fantabulous?

A new one on me – how about this 1960’s effort from Royal Enfield India – The Royal Enfield  Fantabulous (or maybe Fantabulus). Now, it would be tempting to say the best thing about this scooter was the name… but, give it a look over, and it’s not a bad looking scoot. It sits a ‘little funny’ seeming have quite a nicely designed body riding ridiculously high on it’s wheels. This is particulary obvious at the front of the scooter, where tge (Lambretta style) fixed front mudguard looks like it’s been bolted on far too high up the legshields! The front wheel suspension system looks clunky and overly complicated, too, especially when you compare it to the set-up of a classic Lambretta or Vespa.

On the positive side, I like the fact that they haven’t just gone down the tried and tested design route of (often badly) copying a Vespa or Lambretta. I like the squared off look of the side-panels, and I really like the way they end up in Cadillac-esque style tail-fins, a nice period design touch! Reminds me of the 50’s aesthetic of this Cushman I posted back in 2011 (blimey, this blogs being going a while, hasn’t it!).

Powered by a 175cc 2-stroke Villiers engine (producing 7.5hp with a top speed of 60mph) with a heel and toe 4-speed  gearbox, it also had an electric start using a Siba Dynastarter (although from the featured ad, there was a kick-start option), a chain drive with Earls forks and rear swinging arm controlled by Earls dampers.

Production started in 1962 and went on into the 1970’s. The cost in India was the equivalent of £175. You’d be hard-pushed to find a decent example today, although I suspect more than a few will exist on the Indian subcontinent.

Royal Enfield are still trading, and in fact claim to be oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production. Licensed from Royal Enfield by the indigenous Indian Madras Motors, it is now a subsidiary of Eicher Motors Limited, an Indian automaker. The company makes classic looking motorcycles Royal Enfield Bullet, Classic 350, Meteor 350, Classic 500, Interceptor 650, Continental and many more. Royal Enfield also make adventurous and off-roading motorcycles like Royal Enfield Himalayan. Their motorcycles are equipped with single-cylinder and twin-cylinder engines.

These pics and the technical details were supplied to me by regular contributor, Darrin Slack, and appear to come from Team BHP, an Indian Performance Car site. Hopefully, they are ok with me using the pics here, in return for a link. Here’s the link: Team BHP.

Ladies & Gentlemen. We have a winner!

Now, one of the reasons we all love Lambrettas is their beautiful, classic lines. I’ve written about the Lambretta derivative Lamby Polo before (here) and how an 1980’s attempt to ‘modernise’ these classic lines, (in what I suspect was an attempt to compete with the contemporary Vespa – or more likely on the subcontinent, the Bajaj).

Now, often my somewhat forthright opinions soften with age, and what I once considered ugly, I now think are not so bad. Not so with the Polo unfortunately. A truly unfortunate looking scooter, made so much worse by the fact you can see the ‘beauty that lies beneath’. The guys at API (Automobile Products of India) were obviously quite proud of what they’d done, proclaiming proudy that it was designed by Miyazu of Japan, and going on to boast about it’s “Aerodynamic Elegance” “Computer-aided design and ideas by Miyazu of Japan, the specialist to Honda, Suzuki, Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Volkswagen & Ford. So you can count on spacious longevity of the Polo even after a lifetime of use”. Well, I think they either ‘had an off day” or they gave this to the studio junior. I know this was ‘a product of it’s time’ but at least on this project they were certainly no Bertone!

So, to return to my headline, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. The World’s Fugliest Lambretta! – Unless you know different of course 🙂

Now, I’m not saying the Polo is the fugliest scooter… there are many contenders for that title. Just the fugliest Lambretta. They’ve taken a beautiful design and fuglified it. And for those of you now shouting at the internet “That’s a Lamby, not a Lambretta” I know, I know. But it’s a Lambretta derivative, so, in my head at least, it still counts. My blog, my rules!

Thank you to regular contributor Darrin. Cheers for all the pics mate!

Original Photography from Innocenti Lambretta Factory in Milan #1

Following my post from the Spanish Lambretta / Serveta factory in Eibar, (here) I’ve been sent a ton of fantastic imagery from my online pal Darrin Slack – so much that they will be providing the majority of the posts for the forseeable future – my only issue is finding enough hours in the day to post them! Darrin is a self-admitted ‘bloody bloohound’ when it comes to anything Lambretta – and has scoured the internet to find these images – which kinda what I’ve been doing for to find content for this blog – but Darrin is far better at it than I am! So, all this stuff is out there on the internet already, but it’s nice for us Lambretta fans to have everything in one place eh? Hopefully this blog becomes a bit of a resource for anybody interested in Lambretta history.

Image Source: I will endeavour to post links to the sites where these images originally featured – and credit any original photographers etc. These images appear to originally come from the Fondazione ISEC Flickr account. The Fondazione ISEC was formed in 1973 for the purpose of collecting, conserving and enhancing sources of the history of the Italian Resistance movement and the labour movement. Over time, Fondazione ISEC has become a national reference point for whoever is interested in events concerning the political, economic and social history of contemporary Italy. They have appeared on various sites, and Pinterest accounts around the internet… hopefully posting them here is another way of preserving and publicising these great images. The Fondazione ISEC site is here: https://www.fondazioneisec.it/

Plenty more to come!
These shots are just the first of many, not only of the Lambretta factory, but also Lambretta trade shows, and various rarely seen publicity shots, as well as images of various Lambretta prototypes etc. Stay tuned for more of this good stuff! Thanks again to Darrin for sourcing and supplying me the images.

Honda Motocampo

Spotted one of my favourite 1980’s oddballs – the fantastic little Honda Motocampo on eBay – originally sold as an option for Honda City car (see Madness advert below) these little 50cc bikes fold up to fit into your car boot. I think they still look pretty cool – and are a perfect example of innovative 1980’s industrial design. It’s on eBay for £2995 here.

Incidentally, dedicated Madness fans may recognise the Motocampo from the band’s foray into Japanes advertising… the first time I saw one!

Lambretta Locomociones

Pictures from the Spanish Lambretta Factory in Eibar

A couple of posts back, I wrote about the Lambretta Amiga – the last throw of the dice for the Serveta factory in the Spanish Basque country (here). I gave a short potted history of the Spanish Lambrettas – Reader Darrin Slack got in touch, and shared some fantastic images he had of the Eibar factory (I said he had shared a bunch of great content with me, didn’t I – stay tuned – there’s more to come).The pictures below are of the purpose-built factory that started building scooters in 1954 – just two years after a group of Basque businessmen obtained a licence from Innocenti to build Lambrettas in Spain.

The Drawing office –
Tube bending machines – making the frames for the scooters
Sidepanels coming out of the hydraulic press – who knew that they were made in pairs?
Legshields being finished – note the distinctive turning front mudguard of the Winter Model in the foreground, and stacked up on the left hand side of the image.

The Basque factory was very successful – initially catering to the domestic Spanish market… as can be seen in the image below, they made at least 3 million machines…

Thanks again to Darrin for the fantastic images. If you’re interested in finding out more about Spanish Lambrettas – check out this site Serveta is Betta.

BMW R10 Scooter

In the previous posts, I’ve featured scooters from marques who you may not have expected to make scooters – as diverse as Harley Davidson (here), Ducati* (here) and even Maserati (here). My online pal Darrin sent me another for the oddball files – Ladies and Gentlemen, I present The BMW R10.

Dating from the early 50’s – so predating the Lambretta LI Series 1 by a good few years – the rumour is that the R10 nearly made it into production – only being pulled at the last minute in favour of the BMW Isetta bubble car.

An early plasticine and wood model, with some metal parts was created to show the R10’s potential to compete against the dominant Italian scooter brands of Lambretta and Vespa – remember – it was the 1950’s that were the true heyday of the motor scooter – and everybody wanted a piece of the action.

The streamlined, fully enclosed bodywork without removable sidepanels, and the large integrated front mudguard are a typically Germanic approach – one adopted by Glas Goggo, Heinkel, Zundapp and Maicoletta…although I don’t think many of those German scooters looked as elegant as this Beemer. The one weird design decision they made (in my opinion at least) was to incorporate the horn right at the front of the mudguard… totally throwing off the sensuous, smooth Italianate curves.

So, if BMW had gone all in on this scooter would we all be riding around on Beemers instead of Lambrettas a Vespas? Maybe. Or maybe, it would have been a modest domestic success in Germany, like the other aforementioned brands – never quite attaining the indefinable cosmopolitan appeal of it’s Italian rivals. Who knows!

A big thank you to reader Darrin Slack for the images and post suggestion. Darrin has supplied me with plenty more fascinating content – stay tuned Lambrettisti, and enjoy the ride!

*I could have sworn I’d done a post on the Ducati Cruiser 175 – but a search of my archives tells me it aint so. Consider in on (my ever expanding) to do list.