I don’t wanna Tork about it…

lambretta BR ludwigSometimes, when Lambrettas were manufactured outside their native Italy, strange things happened. The models were ‘tweaked’ to better suit local tastes and markets. Occasionally, these changes are aesthetically pleasing, the turning mudguard on Spanish Series 2’s built in the Eibar factory for example.

Tork.jpg~originalBut – despite virtually every owner having their own idea of what the perfect Lambretta should look like – it’s hard to improve on the original Italian designs. It also seems that the further the manufacturers were away from Italy, the more they had free reign on creating their own, unique models. Nowhere more so than Brazil.

When they started making Lambrettas in Brasil, they looked pretty much like their Italian relatives. But as time went on, things got a little stranger.  I’ve touched on the pretty little MS before… and the monkey-bike styled Xispa – but I never knew about the Tork until I stumbled upon it on a website the other week. (on the red one, below, the extra lights are an obvious owner additional – who’s have thought of adding lights to a Lambretta?).

By the 1970’s scooters were as out of vogue in Brasil as they were in the rest of the world. From what I could gather, the Tork was built after a hiatus in scooter production (the factory had been sitting idle) as a last gasp attempt to gain back a bit of market share from Japanese motorcycles flooding into Brasil (and most of the rest of the world) at the time. It was all to come to a grinding halt when the factory went bankrupt in 1982.

To my eyes, the Lambretta Br Tork (to give it it’s full name) seems a desperate attempt to make a scooter look like something it’s not – a motorbike. Ironically, in the original scooter boom of the fifties, it was the other way around, with every motorcycle manufacturer trying to make their bikes look more like scooters. Funny old world.

 

 

The Scooter Diaries

The Scooter Diaries

The Scooter Diaries

Great pic isn’t it?

It’s not the SLS (Special Lambretta Service)… It’s Ron Bowman, and his mate, about to set off on the journey of a lifetime.

In November of 1959, Ron Bowman quit his job as a newspaper reporter, sold his car and bought a 150cc Lambretta scooter. He intended to ride it from his hometown of Thorold, Ontario, Canada all the way to South America. As far as he knew, no one had ever made such a journey, but he was gong to try. Along the way, he proposed to his girlfriend of three weeks, and married her. This is the story of Ron and Tove Bowman and their epic adventure romance through Latin America on a motor scooter, during a time when such a journey was virtually unheard of. No crew. No support vehicles. Just two crazy Canadians in love on a Lambretta, discovering the world, discovering each other, and having the greatest adventure of their lives.

Their son, Gordon, recently found his dad’s manuscript and knew he wanted to share it with the world. He’s written a book and is planning to get it published through Kickstarter to crowd-fund it’s printing. He’s got a website with all the details, here and you can follow his progress on Facebook too. The Kickstarter page doesn’t appear to be up yet, but I’ll post a direct link to that too, when it is.

UPDATE:The Kickstarter page is now live, you can help make this book a reality HERE.

I’ve already added it to my Christmas reading list!

Moonstomp Riders SC… Bogota!

I find it amazing how countries around the world have adopted the scooter scene ethic… often with the same music and fashions as those originally found in the UK. I know the scooters are Italian, and the music is Jamaican, but the culture is pure British. Except it’s not. It’s GLOBAL. As this video from Bogota (that’s in Colombia, South America for all you geography dunderheeds). And I think it’s pure brilliant.

BTW, As well as Colombia, this blog has readers in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Most of South America in fact. So if you own, ride, or are just interested in Lambrettas and you live in Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, Bolivia or Paraguay… please get in touch, send some pics, let me know what’s happening in your neck of the woods. There are a few places around the world untouched by the “Lambretta virus” but, as I’m finding out… not many!

Brazilian Series 2 Restoration

Nice little video of a restoration of a Brazilian 1966 Series 2 Lambretta. She looked pretty good in it’s original black livery, but two years of hard work and “stress, irritation and headache” (we’ve all been there!) transformed her into a thing of beauty. It’s and interesting game to spot the differences between the Brazilian S2’s and the Italian ones we are more used to seeing… the first, and most obvious one is the date of manufacture… 1966… five years after production finished on Innocenti machines. Other easy to spot ones are the carb/air filter set up, the exhaust (I quite like the look of that short silencer box!) and the three speed gear change… Cosmetically, the badges are very different, including an attractive rear frame embellisher/ badge. So far, so obvious… how many more differences can you spot?

A neat touch in adding rear indicators to the resto is integrating them with the spare wheel carrier, a nice solution.

Update: I have received an email from Jean, the restorer of this fine Series 2, clearing up a few things. Firstly, was the matter of colour… I stated that the original paint was black, and that was just a case of me being sloppy with my english. What I should have written, of course, is existing paint. Brazilian S2’s were only made in an “off white” shade – I’m guessing this would be something similar to the original Italian Ivory (Avoria) colour, but it may be different). The scooter has got four gears, it’s just the numeral 4 has worn off on the handlebar. The exhaust system is off of a later Lambretta, (one native to Brasil that deserves a post all of it’s own – The Cynthia), and has the fish tail on the silencer is a one off, custom item hand made by an iron worker.

Siambretta Model D Twin. That’s right. Twin cylinders!

Saimbrettas, as you probably know, are the Lambretta variants build under licence from Innocenti by SIAM Lambretta, in Argentina.

SIAM’s relationship with Innocenti dates back to 1954, and the Model C… affectionately known as the Pochoneta in Argentina. Apparently, even General Peron was a fan. A Model D equivalent soon followed, known as the “Siambretta 125 Standard” which was the equivalent of the Lambretta Model D… (with the 125 Deluxe being the equivalent of the LD). If you’re Argentinian, or a Siambretta aficionado, and I’ve got any of these facts wrong, please put me right in the comments.

So, history lesson over. What I never expected to see was a Model D Twin… I’m assuming, as my Argentinean Spanish is rather rusty, that it’s two 125cc cylinders, giving a total of 250c. In a D frame. That must go like a rocket! This is the maddest thing I’ve seen for ages.

I’d love to know more, and I’m trying to dig out more details, so hopefully this post will be updated as I find out more. But what a scooter!

Found via the Lambretta Club USA’s Facebook Page.

For a more modern take on Lambretta twins, see my previous post on the 344cc Twin from PM Tuning here.

Scoot Sao Paulo: Lambretta & Vespa Carnaval 2013

I sometimes forget what a worldwide phenomenon scootering, and Lambretta’s are. Many nations have taken the Lambretta to their hearts, and that is obvious in the many Lambretta clubs that have sprung up all over the world (check out my links page), and even in the visits I get here to the blog.

Here’s a vid from Sao Paulo, Brasil, that makes the point. Of course, they actually made Lammies in Brasil, including some models (like the Xispa I posted out before) that were unique to them. But I didn’t know they all went backwards!

The Brazil Connection – The Xispa

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Everybody knows that the Lambretta comes from Italy. Most know that it was also made in India. And many know it was also made in Spain. At a pinch you might even mention Germany and France. But Brazil? Or Brasil, as it is more correctly spelled? Perhaps it’s my Eurocentric world view, but I was quite surprised when I first found out. (For completists, Lambretta’s were also made under license in Argentina, Taiwan and Colombia).

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The history of the Lambretta in Brasil stretches right back to 1955, and in fact it has clams to being Brasil’s first automotive manufacturer. Between 1958 and 1960, in it’s heyday the factory was producing more than 50,000 scooters a year. The mainstay of Brazilian production was based upon the Italian LI Series 2, which they produced from 1960. Known from 1964 as “Pasco Lambretta” the scooter market began to suffer the same slow decline in fortunes that was happening in Europe.

In an attempt to kickstart the market and keep up with changing automotive fashions, they  launched one of the Lambretta families more unusual members (to European eyes anyway)… the Xispa. This was a kind of hybrid scooter/monkeybike with many (as you’ll see in the pics) Lambretta components.

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There was a 150cc and 175cc version which did well in the domestic market, until the inevitable rise and eventual dominance of imported Japanese motorcycles and mopeds. This all but saw the end of Lambretta production in Brazil, although their final throw of the dice was the slimline style Lambretta Cynthia (which I will feature at a later point I’m sure) and the ‘cutdown’ version of this… the MS150… the factory trimmed sidepanels and MS designation earning it the nickname “the MiniSkirt”.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a healthy interest in classic Lambretta’s and active club scene in Brasil (and also Argentina, but that’s another story). There also appears to be a few Xispa’s on the market… an ideal machine for the Lambretta collector with an eye for the unusual. For instance, here’s a very nice example, going for about 4,000 Brazilain Reals (about £1,100 at current exchange rates). You’ll have to ship it over from Brasil of course! I like it, I think it’s got a certain ’70s charm… and it also reminds me of those fantastic racing “Lambretta da Corsa” scooters from the fifties.

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UPDATE:

Some useful links if you want to find out more about Lambretta’s in Brasil. Or stat tuned and I’ll get round to writing some more, espcially abut the Cynthia, and the MS!

http://www.lambrettatradicionalbrasil.com.br/historia.htm

http://lambrettabrasil.blogspot.com/

Probably the most off-topic video you’ll ever see posted here

But then again, they do call this move a “Lambretta” in Brazil… apparently! Silky skills from Leandro Damiãno.
On a side note, in Brazil, the word “Lambretta” is virtually synonomous with “scooter”, and today there is a healthy interest in vintage models. It’s a less well known fact that as well as being popular in India and Asia, the Lambretta scooter was also incredibly popular in South America, being manufactured under license in both Brazil and Argentina (where they went under the name “Siambretta”). 
 I’m going to get round to making a listing page for all the various Lambretta clubs around the world one day, but in the meantime here are a few from South America
Siambretta Club of Buenos Aires (That’s the capital of Argentina, for those with rusty geography)