As Monty Python used to say, “Now for something completely different!” – The Lambretta del Mare – or “Lambretta of the Sea” . Now I’ve featured various “amphibious” Lammies before (here and here) but never a fully fledged Lambretta powered boat before!
The Lambretta del Mare was a pleasure boat built by SARA of Rome. It was shown at the 1950 Milano Fiera trade show in the Montecatini Pavilion. The pleasure boat was powered by a LC 125 Lambretta engine.
Described as ‘elegant and easy to drive’ and ‘the most comfortable and most modern motorboat’ ‘The Lambretta del Mare allows navigation even with very rough sea. The great maneuverability, the shape and lightness of the hull give it remarkable stability and safety qualities. I used an innovative “Peralum” aluminum body produced by Montecatini making it extremely resistant to corrosion.
Those of you with better Italian than I can probably discover more from the brochure featured above… but it starts off saying something like… “Today, for the first time in the world, we are presenting a nautical vehicle; the “Lambretta del Mare” which allows a large number of the public to achieve an aspiration considered unattainable so far due to the high purchase price and the difficulty of transport and shelter” So – I’m assuming it was quite affordable – easy to transport – and to store – as it goes on to say the boat would fit in a standard size garage.
I wonder if this actually made it into manufacturing? And if so, how many of these actually made… which begs the question… do any still exist? It would be the ultimate addition to any Lambretta collection!
Thanks again to regular Lambrettista contributor Darrin Slack for finding and sharing these images!
I have a credit for the top photo… if I have to credit anybody else, please let me know.
When the original Lambretta – The Model A – was released – it was with a very much with the ethos of producing a cheap transport option for post war Italy. The radical simplicity of these early machines – and the fairly swift refinement into the models B, C soon led to these models being adopted in large numbers. A more ‘luxury’ version of the model C was introduced with full panelling – The LC – The “L” in LC actually stands for “Lusso” – the Italian for “Luxury”.
For a while, Innocenti offered you a choice of models – basic or luxury – with the Model D selling alongside the full-framed LD. The fully panelled luxury option went on to define the way the world thought a Lambretta should look for all future models – until at maybe the introduction of the Luna range in the late 60’s. But the basic models continued to be popular amongst a couple of groups… the budget conscious, and racers. Racers loved the reduced weight and the convenient access to the engines… making customisation, tuning and roadside repairs easier and quicker. You can see what a Racing D looked like in this post from the archives (well April).
But we all know the Lambretta was made in other countries around the world, Including Argentina – where SIambretta had been selling Argentinean Lambrettas since 1954, starting by assembling Model A’s shipped from Italy. Following the Italian model of offering a basic (or “Standard”) and luxury or “Deluxe” model.
The Siambretta was very popular in it’s home market – even exporting to other South American countries such a Chile and Uruguay. But by the late 60’s, sales were waning. To reinvigorate them, they looked to the past, and popular “Standard” models… however, a cheap, panel-less back to basics model wouldn’t quite cut the mustard. They wanted something with a bit of ooomph. A sporty Standard, or indeed, a “Super Standard”.
The result of this was the Siambretta Super Standard 175 AV – the AV thought by many to be a nod to Innocenti’s sporty TV line – changing the Turismo (the “T” in TV) to Argentina – (so AV = Argentina Veloce, rather than Turismo Veloce) . This was the only model designed 100% in Argentina – albeit on the back of an existing Lambretta model, and was a reasonable success for Siambretta.
Although called a “Super Standard’, these look anything but Standard to those of us used to seeing the curvaceous lines of the ‘standard’ Series 2 Lambretta on which they were based. The changes are pretty obvious, even from a cursory inspection – cutdown legshields, a redesigned cutdown front mudguard, a missing ‘frame-loop’ with a redesigned toolbox and petrol tank split laterally along the frame. The missing frame-loop at the rear is compensated for by an additional boxed structure above the rear mudguard… the main function of which seems to be as a mount for a spare wheel, and the rear light. Now, I’m no scooter designer (other than in the amatuer way that we all are), but maybe a more successful option would be losing the pillion seat, and the new box section, and storing the spare behind the cutdown legshields… a rear light could be easily mounted on the frame, under the seat. The headset is a simplified affair with a bolt-on headlight. The horncasting is squared off, and rather unfortunate looking, in my humble opinion.
Some shots, from a magazine road test of the time, show that it’s perhaps a machine that looks better when being ridden than standing still;
Thanks to Darrin Slack for sending me these images, there’s more to come on the history of Siambretta, including some original press and advertising material.
Other information comes from the El Siambrettista blog – a blog all about the Siambretta in it’s various guises, and well worth checking out.
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!
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!
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.
A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through the Scooter Restorations site, as I often do when I have a spare ten minutes. I’ve posted a few desirable rare Lambrettas for sale on the blog. Now, I know they specialise in ‘rare’ Lambretta parts, from the model A onwards… But I noticed they had (a few) parts for a Lambretta Amiga. A Lambretta that it never even made it to production. In fact, even pictures of it are rare… although there does appear to be a prototype in the Museo de la Industria Armera in Eibar, Spain. (If the name Eibar doesn’t ring a bell, it probably should, it’s the industrial town in the spanish Basque Country – Euskadi – where Lambretta’s were manufactured (sometimes under the name Serveta).
So it’s rare. We’ve established that. But is it desirable? Well, maybe. But I would hazard a guess at ‘only to a completist’ or only to people really into 80’s/90’s design.
Spanish machines are increasingly sought after in the UK, the Eibar Lambretta Winter Model and Serveta Jet 200 being particularly prized. The last real model to roll off the production line was the Serveta Lince (Spanish for Lynx), which was still very recognisably a Lambretta – albeit – like a 60’s pop star with a facelift and a spray-tan – a Lambretta with a distinctly 80’s make-over. I wrote about the Lince back in 2013 – here – since then my opinions on many things have mellowed, but sadly not my rather forthright views on the Vespa PX. Anyway I digress. Not like me is it? Back to The Lince. Sadly, although a modest success (over 1,500 made) the Lince was not going to secure the future of Spanish Lambretta production. So it was back the the drawing board, and in 1987, it probably was still designed on a drawing board, CAD being in it’s infancy. I’ll tell you one thing though, they made good use of their rulers that day.
The Amiga was Spain’s attempt to take The Lambretta brand into the ’90s… and one thing you can definitely say of The Lambretta Amiga was that it’s of it’s time. In typical late 80’s fashion anything resembling a sensuous curve was squared off – it was straight lines all the way, baby. And it wasn’t the only product they had in mind either, there was a rather funky looking trike – The Lambretta Tron – and an Lambro/Vespa Ape type commercial vehicle – The Motocarro Lambretta. The Tron even made it to prototype stage – I can feel another post coming on.
Back to the Amiga. Although it never made it past the prototype stage, there was big talk at the time of The Amiga being “The New Lambretta”. I remember reading an article about it (probably in Scootering) and being absolutely horrified – having a real “What the fuck have they done” moment, and thinking it was like a stormtrooper crossed with a Honda Melody. And not in a good way. (The design of the Honda Melody has aged pretty well, actually, but back in the late 80’s, to any Lambretta or Vespa rider the words Honda and Melody were about the worst insults you could throw at a machine). Anyway. I’ve waffled on far too long. There’s some Amiga bits on eBay, here. Basically, a frame (with some bits bolted on – the fuel tank and the rear shock), the forks and front wheel, and the headset, including the distinctive speedo. There’s no bodywork, seat or engine, although I’d imagine a standard Lambretta/Serveta lump would fit.
A final note, I’m pretty sure that when I originally looked, Scooter Restorations had an Amiga speedometer in stock. It’s now showing as “out of stock”. Which begs the question… “Who bought it?” and “Why?” Is someone out there building an Amiga? I’d love to know! If it’s you, please get in touch, I love to know more!
Andres got in touch with pictures of a Lambretta he’d just become the proud owner of… asking for help identifying the model. I’m afraid I couldn’t help – although it’s clearly a variant on a Cento, with some ‘modernised’ bodywork. The closest thing I could find was something I featured on the blog back in 2016, a SIL Lambretta Sunny, which looks remarkably similar.
My other thought, as this has turned up in Argentina, was that it was a model manufactured their by Siambretta or in Brazil…
If you can shed some more light on this Lambretta ‘oddity’ please get in touch, either in the comments below, or by using my contact section. I’ll pass any info on to Andres.
Let’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
Spotted this rarity on eBay – a Genuine 1954 Indian Papoose Brockhouse Corgi. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know anything about these scoots… but there’s a little bit of history below…
The Indian Papoose started out life in 1942 to be used during the 2nd world war known as the Wellbike, then was redesigned named Corgi under the creative ingenuity of John Dolphin, changing the engine to an Excelsior Spryt, built under licence by Brockhouse Engineering Southport Ltd.
Brockhouse was invested in the Indian company and began to re-badge the Corgi with the Indian Papoose decals along with re-painting the little folding motorcycle identifiable with the Indian Colors to market the Papoose as an Indian in the United States in 1948. Around 28,000 of the folding motorcycles where sold from 1948 to October 1954.
It’s been a while since I posted a collection of ‘oddballs’ (here are the last lot). So here goes, to be clear, the term oddball is not pejorative – these are scooters that just aren’t Lambrettas and Vespas – or clones of them!
First off is this BM Pokerino from 1963. BM, or Bonvicini Marini were an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in Bologna in 1952. An ‘ace’ looking little scooter, but, I must say my favourite part about is the poker hand badge – so if you’re feeling ‘flush’ (see what I did there) you can get hold of the Pokerino for a classified price of £1,895. It looks to be in great original condition.
Next up is a second 50cc classic – a straight-looking Zundapp RS 50 – another good looking little scooter. Yours for a grand.
One more ‘nifty fifty’ before I get to the big guns
… a Garelli Como – and I’m always a little unsure about classifying these larger wheeled bikes as ‘scooters’. Yep, it’s got the scooter style bodywork, but with those big wheels it’s more moped than scooter, right? While looking a little ungainly, the Garelli just about manages to pull off the ‘moped in disguise’ thing. I think. Anyway, it’s nearly twice the price of the Zundapp,at £1,995.
Next up is another scooter I don’t think I’ve seen before – A Jawa Tatran. Jawa – a long established Czech motorcycle marque – got in on the scooter gravy train just like everybody else. And they made a decent job of it by the look of things. This one has had a full resto job done on eBay for the same price as the Garelli, £1,999 – probably the better buy?
A great looking BSA Sunbeam. Look familiar? Well, the Sunbeam is basically a ‘badge engineered’ Triumph Tigress. One of my favourite British scooters, there’s no denying the sensuous smooth lines of this little beauty.