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!

Original Photography from Innocenti Lambretta Factory in Milan #1

Following my post from the Spanish Lambretta / Serveta factory in Eibar, (here) I’ve been sent a ton of fantastic imagery from my online pal Darrin Slack – so much that they will be providing the majority of the posts for the forseeable future – my only issue is finding enough hours in the day to post them! Darrin is a self-admitted ‘bloody bloohound’ when it comes to anything Lambretta – and has scoured the internet to find these images – which kinda what I’ve been doing for to find content for this blog – but Darrin is far better at it than I am! So, all this stuff is out there on the internet already, but it’s nice for us Lambretta fans to have everything in one place eh? Hopefully this blog becomes a bit of a resource for anybody interested in Lambretta history.

Image Source: I will endeavour to post links to the sites where these images originally featured – and credit any original photographers etc. These images appear to originally come from the Fondazione ISEC Flickr account. The Fondazione ISEC was formed in 1973 for the purpose of collecting, conserving and enhancing sources of the history of the Italian Resistance movement and the labour movement. Over time, Fondazione ISEC has become a national reference point for whoever is interested in events concerning the political, economic and social history of contemporary Italy. They have appeared on various sites, and Pinterest accounts around the internet… hopefully posting them here is another way of preserving and publicising these great images. The Fondazione ISEC site is here: https://www.fondazioneisec.it/

Plenty more to come!
These shots are just the first of many, not only of the Lambretta factory, but also Lambretta trade shows, and various rarely seen publicity shots, as well as images of various Lambretta prototypes etc. Stay tuned for more of this good stuff! Thanks again to Darrin for sourcing and supplying me the images.

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.

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.