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Lambretta

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Lambretta
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A brand of scooters manufactured in Italy by Innocenti from 1947 to model year 1972. The brand was sold to British Leyland in 1971.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Lambretta page on 29 November 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Lambretta is the brand name of a line of motor scooters initially manufactured in Milan, Italy, by Innocenti.

The name is derived from the word Lambrate, the suburb of Milan named after the river which flows through the area, and where the factory was located. Lambretta was the name of a mythical water-sprite associated with the river which runs adjacent to the former production site.

In 1972, the Indian government bought the machinery of the Milanese factory, creating Scooters India Limited (SIL) in order to produce the Lambro three-wheeler under the name Vikram for the domestic market. Lambretta scooters were also manufactured under licence by Fenwick in France, NSU in Germany, Serveta in Spain, API in India, Yulon in Taiwan, Pasco in Brazil, Auteco in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina. Innocenti S.A. (also known as Lambretta Consortium) based in Lugano, Switzerland is the owner of the international trademark Lambretta and has licensed the brand throughout the world.

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. The factory was heavily bombed and destroyed during World War II. 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.

Concept

The main stimulus for the design style of the Lambretta and Vespa dates back to pre-World War II Cushman scooters made in Nebraska, United States. These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by the United States military as field transport for the paratroops and marines. The United States military had used them to get around German defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.

Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D'Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job by Ferdinando Innocenti of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver's clothes soiled.

Design

D'Ascanio, who hated motorbikes, designed a revolutionary vehicle. It was built on a spar frame with a handlebar gear change and the engine mounted directly onto the rear wheel. The front protection "shield" kept the rider dry and clean in comparison to the open front end on motorcycles. The pass-through leg area design was geared towards women, as wearing dresses or skirts made riding conventional motorcycles a challenge. The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The internal mesh transmission eliminated the standard motorcycle chain, a source of oil and dirt. This basic design allowed a series of features to be deployed on the frame which would later allow quick development of new models.

However, D'Ascanio fell out with Innocenti, who rather than a stamped spar frame wanted to produce his frame from rolled tubing, allowing him to revive both parts of his pre-war company. D'Ascanio disassociated himself from Innocenti and took his design to Enrico Piaggio who produced the spar-framed Vespa from 1946 on. The final design of the Lambretta was done by aeronautical engineers Cesare Pallavicino and Pier Luigi Torre. Pallavicino had been Technical Director at the Caproni airplane factory during World War II before working on the Lambretta design. Torre was an engine designer at Italo Balbo's Idros; he designed the engine and organized Innocenti's factory for mass production.

Legacy

There are still clubs across the world, both national and local clubs, devoted to the Lambretta scooter. The clubs still participate and organize ride outs and rallies which regularly take place during weekends over the summer months and have high attendance, some rallies achieve 2,500 paying rally goers. Across the UK there are many privately owned scooter shops which deal with everything Lambretta, from sales, services, parts, tuning, performance and complete nut and bolt restorations.

In Brazil, "lambreta" is used as a synonym for "scooter", being listed at the Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, one of the country’s main dictionaries, as a noun/substantive.

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 1910s 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. This museum and collection was sold in early 2007 and re-opened on 8 August 2008 following refurbishment.

In 1997 the UK-based Lambretta Clothing brand of clothing and accessories was founded. The company is currently part of Lambretta Consortium.


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
19 February 2004Lustro LoveLambretta Watches
25 October 2013The Legend Of Lambretta Geoff Maxted, DriveWrite Automotive




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