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.

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!

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!

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.

What will the Vespa of the future look like?

Taken from the Industrial & Product Design blog Yanko Design, and suggested by my old mate Luke, This is a bit of an unusual post for the blog. The renders answer the question – What will classical Italian automotive design be in a hundred years? The designer, Artem Smirnov has distilled the classic Italian curves of yesterdays Vespa’s and created something radically different, yet still, somehow recognisable. Personally, I think that’s a design that’s maybe ten or twenty years away – not a hundred! What do you think? Like it? Loathe it? What would a Lambretta look like?

Original post, here.

Oh, and don’t forget about my Father’s Day Giveaway!

RUDEBOY: The Story of Trojan Records

I missed any news of this movie on it’s original release in 2018. It’s available on Sky on demand, so if you’ve got that, give it a spin and let me know if you think it’s any good!

Among the cast of legendary artists featured are Lee ‘Scratch’ PerryToots HibbertKen BootheMarcia GriffithsDave BarkerDandy LivingstoneDerrick MorganBunny Lee, Sly & RobbieLloyd CoxsonePauline Black and Neville Staple they’ve certainly got the right people on board.

Here’s the intro from the film’s website.

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RUDEBOY is a film about the origins and ongoing love affair between Jamaican and British Youth culture. A film that explores the power of music to break down cultural barriers and change lives and the eventual birth of a modern multicultural society – all told through the prism of one the most iconic record labels in history, TROJAN RECORDS. Combining archive footage, freshly shot interviews and drama – RUDEBOY tells the story of Trojan Records by placing it at the heart of a cultural revolution that unfolded in the council estates and shanty towns of the late 60’s and 70’s. The film begins in the 1950’s, as Jamaica is slowly transitioning to its eventual independence in 1962. We meet Duke Reid and his legendary Trojan sound system and explore the social and cultural conditions that give rise to the birth of the rude boy, the emergence of sound-system culture and the rise of the distinctive Jamaican sound ska. In Act 2 we land in Britain in the 60’s and look at the Jamaican immigrants’ experience through the eyes of a young Dandy Livingstone. We meet first generation Windrush immigrant Lee Gopthal and witness the birth of Trojan Records while Enoch Powell is giving his Rivers Of Blood speech. There is a growing market for imported ska and new rock steady sounds that Trojan records tap into. Act 3 tells a story of how working-class youth discover the sounds of ska and rock steady and the most the important subculture in modern British history is born, the Trojan Skinhead. A new sound Reggae emerges. Black and white unite on dancefloors as we build up to the landmark for underground skinhead culture and the ‘Spirit of 69’. From 1969 – 1973 Trojan becomes the most important Jamaican label in the world and is at the peak of its powers. The Tighten Up compilation series, spreads the Trojan word to the masses. The label begins releasing almost everything that is sent in as the volume of output becomes incredible. A new gold rush ensues with producers rushing over from Jamaica selling records to Trojan Desmond Dekker emerges as the first star of the underground scene. ‘Double Barrel’ by Dave and Ansel Collins give Trojan their first number 1 hit single. Ken Boothe inspires the lovers rock sound with Trojans second number 1 ‘Everything I Own’. Pop Reggae is born and Black identity and pride builds around these records as a new confident identity is cemented. But the good times can’t last forever as in 1975 the label over extends itself and folds. But the impact of Trojan records lives on, through the 70’s right up to the present day. Jamaican youth culture has flourished and is everywhere you look – it spawned 2Tone, the Notting Hill Carnival, Sound systems, the seeds of the Hip Hop revolution, club culture. The cultural impact of Trojan records has shaped the world we live in.

Grab the soundtrack

If that sparks your interest, you can grab the soundtrack on Amazon, here.

Vintage Mobility Scooter

Vintage_Mobility_HeroLet’s face it, none of us are getting any younger. And while hopefully, we can swing our legs over a Lammy for a little bit longer the day will come when we won’t be able to. But you may still be able to ride around with a certain panaché. I think this vintage electric mobility scooter, dating from 1948 trumps your modern plastic mobility scooter in the style stakes, and probably in speed too. If you’re an ageing goth, into steampunk (I can see someone riding round in this in a stovepipe hat, steampunk goggles and a silver skull-topped cane), or maybe John Cooper Clarke, you could pull this off. It’d be a strong look. On eBay for £5,989.00

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Future Classics

Hot on the heels of my post about Project E – Retrospective Scooters conversion kits for Classic Scooters – I’ve come across a couple of other people doing something similar – for four-wheeled classics. First off is this Classic Mini conversion from SWIND.

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Under the bonnet of this nice, clean classic Mini sits a 80kw electric power plant, a decent-ish 125-mile range, perfect for zipping around town.

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AL0W8024-1400 There’s much more information and pictures on the Petrolicious site, here, where I originally spotted it – or go straight to the SWIND site, where you’ll find all the info you need, and check out there other product – the EB-01 – a futuristic looking machine they claim to be “the most technically advanced and powerful electric bicycle on the market”.

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Another company in the business of converting classics to electric is Electric Classic Cars – who will source and build an electric classic to your specifications, or supply you with the parts you’d need to convert your own car to electric. Check them out here.

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They’ve done several conversions – from the Classic Fiat 500 above (featured here on the Influx website) to a Range Rover, a VW Beetle, and even a Porsche 911.