Phew, the unexpected sunshine is fantastic scooter riding weather… and maybe you can even squeeze in one more trip to the beach. And we all know the English Seaside and scooter go together like cheese and marmalade (try it, it works!).
On the whole, pretty positive. A magazine run by, and aimed at the modern scooterist rather than the classic variety, but this probably serves all the better to benchmark the LN.
This is one of my dreams… racing my (extremely slow) Series round the track on the roof of the iconic former FIAT factory in Turin.
And gives it a pretty good review. There’s a bit of a pattern emerging from the reviews… if your’e a classic scooterist, you probably hate the ‘new Lambretta’.
I posted about Lambretta Evolution’s Scomadi auto conversion a while ago, fantastic scooters… but not the only game in town. When you start talking about auto Lambretta a couple of other names keep coming up… one is Dave Briggs (maybe feature his work later), and another is that of Sean Walker, of Fattspeed fame. More of a creator of one off masterpieces than a range of next generation Lambretta’s Shauns work is simply stunning… some of the nicest Lambretta’s I’ve ever seen, bar none.
Everybody knows that the Lambretta comes from Italy. Most know that it was also made in India. And many know it was also made in Spain. At a pinch you might even mention Germany and France. But Brazil? Or Brasil, as it is more correctly spelled? Perhaps it’s my Eurocentric world view, but I was quite surprised when I first found out. (For completists, Lambretta’s were also made under license in Argentina, Taiwan and Colombia).
The history of the Lambretta in Brasil stretches right back to 1955, and in fact it has clams to being Brasil’s first automotive manufacturer. Between 1958 and 1960, in it’s heyday the factory was producing more than 50,000 scooters a year. The mainstay of Brazilian production was based upon the Italian LI Series 2, which they produced from 1960. Known from 1964 as “Pasco Lambretta” the scooter market began to suffer the same slow decline in fortunes that was happening in Europe.
In an attempt to kickstart the market and keep up with changing automotive fashions, they launched one of the Lambretta families more unusual members (to European eyes anyway)… the Xispa. This was a kind of hybrid scooter/monkeybike with many (as you’ll see in the pics) Lambretta components.
There was a 150cc and 175cc version which did well in the domestic market, until the inevitable rise and eventual dominance of imported Japanese motorcycles and mopeds. This all but saw the end of Lambretta production in Brazil, although their final throw of the dice was the slimline style Lambretta Cynthia (which I will feature at a later point I’m sure) and the ‘cutdown’ version of this… the MS150… the factory trimmed sidepanels and MS designation earning it the nickname “the MiniSkirt”.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a healthy interest in classic Lambretta’s and active club scene in Brasil (and also Argentina, but that’s another story). There also appears to be a few Xispa’s on the market… an ideal machine for the Lambretta collector with an eye for the unusual. For instance, here’s a very nice example, going for about 4,000 Brazilain Reals (about £1,100 at current exchange rates). You’ll have to ship it over from Brasil of course! I like it, I think it’s got a certain ’70s charm… and it also reminds me of those fantastic racing “Lambretta da Corsa” scooters from the fifties.
Some useful links if you want to find out more about Lambretta’s in Brasil. Or stat tuned and I’ll get round to writing some more, espcially abut the Cynthia, and the MS!
When I’m not riding a Lambretta, I’m either at home with the wife and kids, (usually doing homework), or at work being a graphic designer. One of the design blogs I visit, Design You Can Trust, recently featured some wonderful photography by an american photojouranlist Ruth Orkin.
A lot of her most arresting images come from the ’50s and ’60s, and there’s a lot of New York scenes, celebraties and musicians. Fabulous stuff, if you’re interested there’s a great online archive here. The image that caught my eye though was “American girl in Italy”, initially because of the rather cool couple of gents, astride a Model D. I thought, what a great image… how cool are all the guys in the image, so well dressed… and then you see the girls face. She’s obviously not happy with all the attention she’s getting. Looks pretty scared in fact. Maybe the good old days weren’t quite as rosy as we like to think of them.
EDIT/UPDATE: I’ve just found out that this is an iconic image, that nearly everybody in the world had seen! It’s even referenced on the Lambretta Wikipedia page. Oh well!
I do love old pics of scooters though, even better when the scooters are quite incedental to the image. If you’ve got any old Lambretta shots, I’d love to see them.