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.

The History of Lambretta’s in India (sort of).

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In the UK, we tend to think of the Lambretta as a fashionable, aspirational brand, associated with youth culture. Arguably, the hey-day of the scooter was before the days of the mod – when post-war austerity and a fuel shortage exacerbated by the Suez Crisis prompted the trend away from cars – well, big, thirsty ones anyway – and onto scooters. But the one era most people identify with Lambrettas is, of course, the Mod days of the 60’s. At least in the UK.

It’s very different in other parts of the world. In the late 60’s and into the 70’s the Lambretta was very much a workhorse scooter. Although glamourized to some extent by Bollywood,  and initially appealing to the growing middle class – the appeal to the masses was very much more practical than prestigious.

For a lot of Indians, the Lambretta was seen as family transport – able to transport four(!) in relative comfort – ” It could accommodate 4 people easily. A family of four including two children. One would stand in the front portion ahead of the seat and face the wind. The two elders would sit on the seat and the second child on the spare tyre at the rear of the Lambretta scooter.”

Lambretta’s were produced in India from the 1950’s by API – initially assembling parts shipped from Italy, and then manufacturing them from scratch in their own factories. They produced a variant of the Series 1 LI150, and then moved on to produce the Series 2. For most Indians, the Series 2 is the Lambretta.  In 1972, however, the State-owned SIL (Scooters India Limited) acquired the rights to the Lambretta name, and all API Lambrettas after that were sold under the name “Lamby”. These continued in production for many years, and in vast numbers – but, as mentioned, there was a new player in SIL.

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SIL didn’t mess around with old models. After making a few 100cc Centos, they swiftly moved on to the model they are known best for – The GP. Although, rather confusingly, after acquiring the sole rights to the Lambretta name in India, the GP was sold under a number of different names, including the Vijai Super, Vijai Vulcan, Vijai Deluxe and the Allwyn Pushpak. There’s some great vintage footage (starting about 04:56) of these ‘Super Scooters’ in the video below.

As time went on, and with less and less access to original Italian GP’s the export market for ‘made in India’ Lambrettas grew. Initially slagged off as second-rate ‘curry burners’ (sorry if that sounds racist, but that’s what everybody called them, back in the day), their reputation grew to that close to their Italian forefathers. Ok. Not quite, but you certainly wouldn’t be embarrassed to ride an Indian GP these days.

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Domestically, the Lambretta was far from the only game in town. Where there’s a Lambretta, there’s usually a Vespa a little way behind. Or in front. It depends on your preference – you know mine. Anyway, an Indian company called Bajaj had been importing Vespa’s since the late 40’s – and in 1958, started manufacturing under their own steam both two-wheelers and rickshaws, both based (I think) on the Vespa Sprint.

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It wasn’t all over for API though… and their trusty Lamby 150 (based on a Series 2, remember), had one last throw of the dice in the late ’80s. Although a very dated (or should we say ‘classic’) design next to the GP based offerings of SIL, it had still sold pretty well domestically. With optimism you’ve got to admire, and a fresh new design out of Miyazu, Japan, they launched their final Lamby model – The Polo. With redesigned legshields, headset and headlight, sidepanels, a horrible PX style horn casing it came with 12 volt electrics and mod cons such as indicators. Although it was basically a Series 2 under the skin, there was a lot of late 80’s Vespa about it – and it was none the better for it. The last one rolled off the API production line in 1992… although with a nod to it’s Series 2 toughness, and the Indian owners creative ability to keep them running, they stayed a staple of Indian transportation for many years after that.

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I wrote about the Polo, rather disparagingly back in 2013 https://lambrettista.net/2013/06/09/does-your-scooter-smell-of-mint/ – perhaps I’ve mellowed a little. Perhaps not.

The Lambretta still has a strong following in India, and a lot of people still remember their dad’s, or uncle’s Lambretta fondly as the key means of transport for the family. India, with it’s vast population, may just be the most important market for the new models being produced by Lambretta today.

Anyway, if you’re reading this in India, or you’ve got a better knowledge of the story of Lambrettas in India, please get in touch or leave a comment below. And if you’ve got pictures of your Lambretta – wherever you are in the world, and would like to share it with the world – I’d be more than happy to feature it on the blog.

 

 

A Green Future for your classic scooter. Go Electric.

5c370a1919ea1ee0aa43ebdf_electric_lambrettaWe all love our 2-strokes – but they’re not the most environmentally friendly of machines. Many people think the future of transportation is electric. With the likes of VW, BMW and even Jaguar joining Tesla in bringing electric vehicles to market, is the writing on the wall for fossil fuels? After all – when even Milan – the home of the Lambretta – bans classic scooters – you have to start taking these things seriously.

An electric scooter is not a new idea – and I’ve featured a few on the blog already. I even featured the first footage on the internet of the new Electric Lambretta – which is rumoured to be coming to market soon. Piaggio isn’t missing out either, and you can buy a Vespa Elettrica today.  But what if you love the lines of an authentic vintage Lambretta or Vespa?

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ProjectE

Well, now you don’t have to choose between a new, eco-friendly electric scooter, and vintage classic. Codenamed “Project E” Retrospective Scooters are producing a conversion kit for the most popular models of Lambretta & Vespa. They will remove the old petrol engine, electrics and cabling, and install a DC brushless electric motor, motor controller and lithium-ion battery. Ease of riding, reliability, economy and environmental footprint are all brought into the 21st Century – but most importantly the exterior styling remains totally original. A lot of effort has been put into cleverly hiding the modern tech behind dummy plastic engine casings keeping your classic looking as authentic as possible.

5c370b1d542c022ff4943e97_Electric_vespa_lambrettaRetrospective will be offering the conversion as a DIY kit, with prices starting at £2,485. They will fit it for you for around £500. You can even add it as an option if you’re having a scooter restored. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of the batteries – not included in the kit price, and they run to £850. You can choose to have just the one battery, or improve your range by adding another one or more.

Lambretta Models

Project E is compatible with most popular Lambretta models – LI Series 1, 2 & 3 and GP models can be converted. Retrospective are working on a J Range conversion, and a LD will follow at some stage.

30 – 110 Mile Range

Retrospective offer a variety of different lithium-ion battery options. Each has been made specifically to suit a range of needs – from a Sunday run-around to an everyday commuter.

Change back

One of the great things about this conversion is that it can be fitted without butchering your classic scoot – as Retrospective say “No scooters were harmed in this conversion, no cutting, welding or grinding; the conversion perfectly fits the classic frames” this makes the conversion is completely reversible – so if you want to go back to burning dead dinosaur fuel, you can.

Specs

Range ………………………………….. 30 — 110 MILES
Power ………………………………….. 1kw/3km
Top Speed ………………………………….. 55mph
Removable battery ………………………………….. Yes
Headlights ………………………………….. LED
Charge time 70% ………………………………….. 90 mins
Charge time 100% ………………………………….. 6 hrs
Battery capacity ………………………………….. 66V / 25ah

5c40839116b8f70343067670_electric_scooter_hero_shotThe future is bright. The future is retro.

The Retrospective conversion may be the future for classic scooters. And what could be more eco than riding a machine originally made maybe 50 or 60 years ago, powered by electricity?

I originally found out about Project E on Scooterlab, which covers a lot of ground that I don’t. If you haven’t seen their article, check it out here.

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Retrospective Scooters

Retrospective Scooters are based in Walthamstow, London E17, and as well as designing and building the electric scooter conversion, they are experts in Scooter Restorations, Servicing and Repairs. Check out their website here.

Images are used with permission of Retrospective Scooters.

Officially Licensed Lambretta Scale Models

Spotted these on Amazon… a range of decent looking Lambretta models, four in total…… that would grace any Lambretta lovers’ china cabinet (if people have such thing these days). Theres a Model A, An LI Series 1, a Series 2 Rallymaster and a GP200.

The attention to detail looks pretty good, although I’ve only seen the photographs, not the models in the flesh. Here’s the blurb: Officially Licensed Lambretta scootesr that have been faithfully recreated with handsculpted and handpainted additions for outstanding detail” The scooters are approximately, 8cm in height, 10cm in length.

They’re made by the Bradford Exchange. Pics and links below… there appears to be fairly limited stock, so get your orders in quick if you want one!

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Model A on Amazon


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LI 150 Series 1 on Amazon


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Series 2 Rallymaster on Amazon


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GP on Amazon


Rallymaster Style…

s1_rm_inf-heroWith the emphasis on the word style. Because this isn’t a replica. I’ve posted a couple of very nice Rallymaster Replicas, here for example, and this clearly isn’t ploughing the same furrow. Nope, this scoot (which started life as a Series 1, despite appearances) has taken the best of the design cues of a Rallymaster, and distilled it into a subtle, understated custom.

As is the way with these things, the devil is in the detail. The custom twin rear light fitting and the fettled LD toolbox look great. The pathfinders work, as do the air horns. All in all, a very nice job which gives a respectful nod to the Rallymaster, stripes and all, without going all Dennis the Menace / Bournmouth FC.

It’s for sale on eBay, currently sitting at £4,500,  Sorry, It’s sold already, before I had the chance to post this! That’s a first. Told you it was nice!

Sidepanels on eBay

s2-olympicscisepanels-1Spotted these set of S2 sidepanels on eBay, painted up like the 1960 Rome Olympics scooters (see my post on them here). I don’t think they are off a genuine Rome Olympics scooter, the Lambretta logo is completely wrong for one thing, and the condition is a bit too good, but they’re “a bit of fun” as David Dickinson would say. They’d would look pretty good on the right scooter or even a garage wall… The seller is breaking a complete scoot (which I always think is a shame), so there are other matching bits, including a headset top. Check them out here.

 

Auto Suggestions…

If a traditional geared Lambretta engine is not your thing there’s a couple of cool Lambretta Autos on eBay at the mo, with very different aesthetics.

s2_spanishauto1The first one is a Spanish Rat Rod with a Vespa ET4 lump in it;Here it is on eBay

The second is a street racer but by Frank Sanderson – who knows a thing or two about Lambretta Autos.

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It has a tuned and upgraded 172cc Gilera Runner 2-Stroke engine in a Lambretta frame.That one’s on eBay here.

If you don’t like Autos, Rex Monacos, Simson Schwalbes, Scomadis or Snuggys,  or even Prince Buster (shame on you!), I promise I’ll be posting about some real Lambrettas soon 🙂

Rallymaster Replica on eBay

RallymasterRep-11I posted back in 2012 about a lovely Rallymaster Replica for sale on eBay… long gone of course, but check it out here if you want to see some pics. Well, here’s another one. (Click on each of the images in the mosaic to see them full size).

And if anything, it’s even better. Cracking looking scoot, and something a bit different to the multitude of TV / GT / SX Replicas peppering eBay these days. As with all these things, it’s the attention to detail that matters, and this scooter has that in spades. Although it’s not an original feature, I love the custom horn casing badge (you can see it in the first image). Lover-ly.

Oh, you want the eBay link do you? Here it is.

Contemporary Lambretta Art

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Love this painting by Sara Sutton, and contemporary artist from North London.

Sara shares a common history and influences with a lot of scooterists of my generation… Here’s a bit about her in her own words… after my punk phase I fell into the London rockin’ scene at an early age. Cars and scooters featured heavily on the scene as much as the music and clothes. My music interests spread to northern soul and ska and I still love all the music and still enjoy a night out dancing at one of the clubs. Most of my work is centred round my life in London and good times spent out and about…”

You can find more of Sara’s work on her website, here: sarasutton.co.uk
or check it out live at here next exhibition at the Ply Gallery in  Hornsey Town Hall Art Centre on July 20th- 27th