Lambretta Motorbike History

Lambretta is a maker of small motorcycles and scooters. It was founded in 1947 by Ferdinando Innocenti and is currently based in the Italian city of Milan. The company shut down in 1970 because of lack of demand for its products, but was revived in 1972.

The company initially produced a line of scooters, but also licensed other manufacturers in other countries to build their products. These others were Societe Industrielle de Troyes (SIT) of France, NSU in Germany, Siambretta in Argentina, Pasco in Brazil and API in India. The founder Ferdinando Innocenti commissioned a gifted designer named Corradino D’Ascanio to come up with a motorbike that was rideable by both men and women, not soil a rider’s clothes, and able to carry a passenger. It was D’Ascanio who turned this challenge into the riding machines we know today as scooters. However, the two men had a falling out and D’Ascanio took his designs to Enrico Piaggio, founder of the famous Vespa line of scooters.

Lambretta production

Innocenti then started production of his own Lambretta scooters in 1947, around the same time that Piaggio started manufacturing Vespa scooters. However, beginning in the 1960’s the general public in Western Europe started getting wealthier. This resulted in increased demand for the motor car and less demand for the scooter. The company started on a downward spiral until British Leyland bought it and radically changed the product line- turning Innocenti into a small-car manufacturer. But Leyland also had its own problems, and in 1972 Lambretta/ Innocenti closed down.

The Indian government bought the Lambretta name and production facilities in 1972 because India was then in the same situation as Italy when Innocenti started his company. That is, the country was not economically ready for cars because of low per-capita income and poor infrastructure, yet a suitable transport device was still needed.

Lambretta today produces the rebadged Adly brand, starting in 2008. The scooters only have small engines, usually 50, 100 or 150 cc. But they still command a loyal band of enthusiasts, and some of the early models are even collector’s items now, fetching over 10,000 euros in the market.

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