This is an interesting one, a Lambretta Racer, built in the ’90s, on a frame from the ’60s, modelled on the racers from the ’50s. Kinda reminds of this one, I posted about a few months back back in June 2013. Although the title of the post contains the words “one-off”, the builder made at least two (one is featured on the Rimini Lambretta Centre site in their gallery).
The scooter is an LI 125, with a Casa 185 kit. There are a lot of one off parts made by a man with some real skill. For a similar price to a standard machine, you can something pretty eye-catching, a real conversation starter.
One of my readers, John, sent me this fantastic pic of him on his Lambretta D150. He was getting it ready for a trip to Istanbul with 3 friends… another D’s and an LD with two-up. They stopped for a while
in Yugoslavia, and even took Franco era Spain in on the way back, stopping off in Barcelona.
“Ian then took off for Copenhagen, and then eventually I came home. You just sat on the D150, and opened the throttle. It did 55 on the clock forever… Barcelona to home in 2 and a half days. Rather different to today’s 2 wheeled tourists.”
Quite a trip… quite an adventure.
I love these period pics – if you’ve got something similar sitting in a drawer – wether you rode your Lambretta to Istanbul or just to work… I’d love to see them!
Lambretta adventurer and legend Cesare Battaglini, who travelled160,000km round the world on his modified Lambretta in 1956, the greatest of many expeduitions on hs Lambretta. He continued riding his beloved Lambretta into his eighties, and was an active and revered part of the Lambretta scene right up to his death in 2011, at 84 years old.
Thes two Series 1’s currently for sale on eBay encapsulate the reason I love Lambretta’s so much. Both are far from ‘stock’, and they couldn’t be different.
The first is a classy baby-blue and cream cruiser is a rhapsody in careful customization, all the accessories add to the lines and the look of the machine. The Lucas pathfinders actually work, and are not just for show. The Mugello 186 conversion ensures that it is no slouch, but it gets there smoooothly. On eBay for a classified price of £7,000 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
The second machine shares the same base model (LI 1), but it couldn’t look more different. I had to do a bit of a double-take when I first saw it, as it has definite “Racing D” heritage in its build. And it’s built for speed, with an RB22 225cc on Indian casings with Italian running gear and NO extraneous extras.
No pathfinders on this one… no lights actually! Somehow, it’s road legal, however, as it passed an MOT when originally built, and was stipulated as daytime use only. As it’s pre-1960, it doesn’t require an annual MOT, so Bob’s your mother’s brother although a part of me thinks “Good luck discussing that one with an over-zealous traffic cop”. Although there’s nothing extraneous on the bike, it’s got a shedload of one-off trick parts and modifications, as you’ll have seen from the pics. It's on eBay too, with a classified piece of exactly half the blue one , at £3,500. It’s definitley not half the machine though, although there’s an attempt to make it half the weight! It’s in Swanage, Dorset.
Enjoy riding your noisy, dirty, smelly 2stroke while you can ladies and gentlemen. It’s just a matter of time before classic scooters are consigned to “collections” and legislated out of existence… and we’ll all be sitting in our robot driven hydrogen fuel-celled Google cars… maybe. Or maybe the future is electric vehicles… we’ve already seen an Electric Lambretta… and a production scooter from a company with a heritage in classic scoots and electric vehicles is on the way. Albeit a heritage I had absolutely no idea about until yesterday.
First, a bit of history
Lohner was an Austrian company. G’day! No. Read it again. Austrian. Around 1900 they were producing electric cars… designed by a certain Ferdinand Porsche. Ahead of the curve there! After a rocky history, and diversifying into many other vehicles such as trams and aircraft… like many companies in the early fifties tried to get in on the booming scooter market. The most well known of these scooters was the Lohner 125 (pictured above). I say it was well known… but it’s a scooter that’s new to me. To my eyes… despite following the germanic “roller” style of having the large enclosed front end incorporating the legshields and mudguard… I’ve seen uglier scooters. After merging with Rotax, who made the engines, they left scooter production behind and became involved in the production of agricultural, military and commercial vehicles. Eventually they were bought by Bombardier.
Now, the future?
Well, the Lohner name, and scooter is back. From what I can gather from the website, members of the original Lohner family are still very much involved. And in looking to the future they looked to their company heritage for inspiration. What they have come up with is a “new class vehicle”… the Lohner Stroler… a radical looking e-biike – and probably of more interest to readers of this blog, the Lohner LEA. The Roller LEA is a twenty-first century reincarnation of the 1950’s original L125-Roller.
Pretty cool, huh? It’s got that retro thing going with a hint modern hot-rod aesthetic… while giving a big nod to their heritage. A tough trick to pull off, looking funky, modern and old school all at once.
The LEA will go into production in the spring, and is a available for pre-order right now.
Find out more, including full specifications on the website.
I can’t find out much about Globester scooters on the web, but the one thing that stand out from these pics is that they are so ahead of their time… Found via the excellent Retronaut site, (one of the non-scootering blogs that’s on my regular reading list), they date from 1946… I think that just relates to the top pic though. I think that’s pretty amazing, I would have guessed the fifties at the earliest. When you think that Innocenti’s Model A, on the face of it a much less sophisticated design, dates from 1947, you get the impression that American scooters had a definite head start on those from Italy!The ad above does come from the nifty fifties, and the one thing that strikes me from that is that is the price… the Globester doesn’t strike me as a cheap scooter! I don’t know why the Globester wasn’t a bigger success, maybe it comes down to engineering, reliability, price or fashion, but it’s certainly not as well known (this side of the pond at least) as that other iconic US brand, The Cushman. As an aside, did you know you can buy a brand new Cushman today? Here’s the link.
The other Cushman link on the blog worth checking out, if you like this kind of thing, is a beautiful custom job, check it out here.
Trawling the web for Lambretta images, I came across this freshly restored, and pimped up LD in Indonesia. Sitting rotting in a shipyard, it was rescued and given the full treatment by XXX, including the unique colour scheme, which it wears well. Very funky!
I even like the red carpet… although whatever material it’s made of – in the UK it would just soak up rain, maybe you can get away with it in Indonesia!
Found on the Vietnamese Xe Va Phong Cách blog, which Google tells me translates to “The Car and Style” although it originally comes from the Indonesian automotive blog dapurpacu.com. From what I can make out the work was done by these guys in Jakarta: Alamat Bengkel Primo 116 Werx
If you’re reading this in the mystic orient, and you’re english is better than my (or google’s) Indonesian and/or Vientnamese, and I’ve made any glaring errors, please put me right 🙂
I’ve just noticed this is my 444th post which is simultaneously pleasing and, for some reason, a bit spooky… If you’re new to the blog you’ve got 443 other posts to check out, please do!
I don’t know what to make of this video. Partly because it’s in German. And I don’t speak German. But, it’s quite basic German, (even I could understand the basic story) which initially had me thinking it’s a language learning film.
Anyway, there’s some nice period footage featuring a NSU Lambretta Prima (their licensed version of the LD), a road trip from Germany through the Dolomites, ending in Venice. So that’s good enough for me. About 21 minutes in there’s a ‘technical section’ with nice cutaways of how the engine works (I for one didn’t know German cranks were ‘bear powered’!). At 23 minutes there’s a folky type Lambretta song in German, which is nice. Then the video shows the various attractive shades of beige and brown you could order your Prima in.
At 24 minutes were out of Lambretta territory, and into the rest of the NSU range; which runs so smoothly Hans can ride without Hands. This continues to about 26 minutes, when, weirdly, the video starts to repeat the first part, with half the screen covered in a red gel. I’m not sure if this is the original footage, that has been cleverly restored to full colour, or there’s another reason I can’t think of, but I’d skip that bit :).
From day one Innocenti were eager to to prove to the world that their engine was, for it’s capacity, the fastest and most economical in the world.
They participated, and won, many speed and endurance competitions, entering one off specials and works racers… with many of the lessons learned from the track making their way into later production scooters.
One of their great rival, in the scooter world, was of course was Piaggio… who were also keen to prove the prowess of their Vespas on the track. Both manufacturers saw the promotional opportunities in promoting their victories. Not only did it help establish the respective marques as viable purchase options, but it countered the entrenched wisdom of the time that these small wheeled, open framed machines could compete with motorcycles. It wouldn’t be too much of stretch to say these competitions helped establish the whole scooter category, that went on to dominate two wheeled vehicles in the 50’s and early 60’s.
After many close fought encounters Lambretta went on to dominate the category… breaking records over long and medium distances. But there was one goal yet to achieve… breaking the 200km/h barrier over the ‘flying kilometre’. This was achieved on the 8th August 1951, in the amazing, full enclosed vehicle shown below, with Romolo Ferri as the ‘pilot’.
With Lambretta now holding all the 125cc class records Piaggio decided there was no point in opposing them anymore, and the battle was over, with Lambretta the acknowledged champions.