If you were going to compete directly with the traditional motorcycle market by producing a motor scooter, would you hire someone who hated motorcycles as your chief designer? Probably not! When Ferdinando Innocenti decided to build scooters after WWII he appointed an aeronautical engineer, General D’Ascanio to make his dream of economical, reliable transport for the individual a reality. D’Ascanio saw motorcycles as inefficient, dirty and unreliable transport. He was the perfect choice as his revolutionary design addressed all these issues.
The leg-shields, all enclosed mechanicals and large front mudguard helped address the weather protection problem. Having the economical small capacity two stroke engine mounted directly onto the rear wheel eliminated the oily chain and allowed for easy mounting, even for lady riders wearing dresses. The first Lambretta scooter became available in 1947. Lambretta factories were established in various countries around the world.
Our featured scooter won Best Motorcycle on Show at the recently held inaugural Retrofest. It was manufactured in Brazil where Braam, its present owner, bought it and here is the story…in his words….
“First time I ever saw a real Lambretta in the flesh was in 2003 in Durban. It was a prop in an italian restaurant and I immediately decided that I needed to get my hands on one of these. Sadly, classic Vespas and Lambrettas often end up in trendy restaurants and fashion stores as these stylish, beautifully designed little bikes represent Italy in its purest form. I vowed to one day rescue one of these bikes from a dusty, slow death in a shop.”
“I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit the famous Casa Lambretta museum in Milan where I went a bit crazy in the store getting bits for the bike. I upgraded the electrical system to 12v and added a battery and electronic ignition which went a long way to improving the lights and the reliability of the bike. I replaced all the bearings on the bike, both the seats and all the trim parts. I was quite happy with how she was going and was using her as daily transport.”
“I got her back 3 days before moving back to South Africa and so, typically of Brazil, the paper work to get the bike to SA was a nightmare. Eventually she was on her way to SA. She arrived in South Africa 6 weeks later and I was bloody nervous when the container door swung open to reveal the bike lying at 45 degrees in the crate it was shipped in. I was horrified that the brand new paint job would be ruined but luckily for me the bike had fallen over onto the kick stand which protected the bike from major damage.”
Braam, who lives in Durban, has really spoilt us at Retro Write Up by writing his scooter’s story and also by supplying us with the stunning photos. All of the photos of the Lambretta were taken by Dylan Laubscher from Durban. His work is exceptionally good and you can contact him at www.dylantog.com to discuss photos of your special motorcycle or car. During the 70s the CNA and most pharmacies used Vespa and Lambretta scooters almost exclusively for their deliveries. I am sure many of you will remember the CNA’S red scooters delivering newspapers in the suburbs. These scooters could not have evaporated and they must be out there somewhere. Please start searching….