Lambretta

Key Information...

The Lambretta was a line of motor scooters manufactured in Milan, Italy, by Innocenti. The name Lambretta comes from the name of a small river (Lambro) in Milan, near the factory.

 

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The history of Lambretta...

In 1922, Ferdinando Innocenti of Pescia built a steel tubing factory in Rome. In 1931, he took the business to Milan where he built a larger factory producing seamless steel tubing and employing about 6,000. During the Second World War the factory was heavily bombed and destroyed. It is said that surveying the ruins, Innocenti saw the future of cheap, private transport and decided to produce a motor scooter – competing on cost and weather protection against the ubiquitous motorcycle. Innocenti company started production of Lambretta scooters in 1947 and ceased production in 1971. However, Lambrettas were manufactured under licence in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India and Spain, sometimes under other names but always to a recognizable design (e.g. Siambretta in South America and Serveta in Spain).

As wealth increased in Western Europe in the late 60s, the demand for motorscooters fell as the small car became available to more people and Lambretta started to struggle financially. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) took advantage of Innocenti's financial difficulties as well as their production and engineering expertise and contracted Innocenti to produce cars under license from BMC. The Innocenti Mini used the mechanical components of the original but was in many ways superior to it.

Innocenti/Lambretta was eventually sold to BMC. With BMC's lack of foresight, they had cottoned on to a fashion trend that was ending rapidly. Long industrial strikes in BMC ensued; motor scooter sales took a nosedive and Innocenti shut up shop 1972.

The Indian government bought the factory for essentially the same reasons that Ferdinando Innocenti had built it after the War. India was a country with poor infrastructure, economically not ready for small private cars yet with a demand for private transport. “Scooters India Ltd.,” a state-run enterprise based in Lucknow, capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, began production a couple of years later. They stopped producing scooters in 1998. Scooters India Ltd. production now centers on a 3-wheeler pick-up truck powered by the Lambretta engine. Bajaj Auto is a major Indian automobile manufacturer that had also produced scooters similar to the Vespa. Although Scooters India have sold the rights to a business man who plans to start production again with BMW engines for the UK and European market, but Vespa engines for the American market.

The small village of Rodano, near Milan, hosts the biggest Lambretta museum in Europe and the Innocenti archives. In the collection are also several non-Lambretta scooters, including some first models from the 1910's and US Army scooters parachuted over Normandy in 1944. In Weston-super-Mare, England, there is a Lambretta Scooter Museum which houses a total of 61 Lambretta models - at least one from each year between October 1947 through to May 1971. It also houses a large amount of Lambretta memorabilia.

The MOD Lambretta name lives on to this day, the Lambretta clothing brand is based mainly in London, but has shops all around the world.

 

 

 

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