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The history of Lambretta is similar to that of Piaggio. They started in a different industry yet became famous all over Europe for their scooters.

But did do you know what Lambretta made before they started building scooters?

Where did the name “Lambretta” come fromt?

And how can you spot the difference between a Lambretta and a Vespa?

In this blog post, you’ll discover all three things – plus a few more – including how much Jimmy’s scooter from Quadrophenia sold for.

#1. What Did Innocenti Make Before They Made Scooters? 

Like Piaggio, Innocenti was in a different industry before entering the two-wheeler market. 

In Innocenti’s case, they used to make scaffolding for construction companies. 1

Some even say that the Lambretta Model A (the very first Lambretta model) had a frame made from old scaffolding tubes.

#2. Where The Name “Lambretta” Came From

image of lambretta sign

As well-known as the “Lambretta” is, the origin story of its name is not so well-known. 

Here’s how the name came about: in 1922, Signore Innocenti moved to a suburb on the outskirts of Milan. 

The name of this suburb = Lambrate. Sound familiar?

#3. How Can You Tell The Difference Between Vespa and Lambretta Scooters?

image of vespa scooter
iamge of lambretta scooter

To the untrained eye, the Lambretta looks no different than the Vespa. After all, they’re both scooters of Italian origin.

But there’s a way you can tell the two apart (without looking at the “Lambretta” badge, of course).

The Vespa (pictured on the left) has its engine mounted on the side.

The engine on the Lambretta (pictured on the right), on the other hand, is mounted in the scooter’s center.

And because of the centrally mounted engine, Lambretta frames are bulkier than Vespas.

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#4. A Lambretta Is Featured in the Movie “Quadrophenia” from 1979

In the film adaptation of The Who’s Quadrophenia, the main character Jimmy (played by Phil Daniels) rides around on a Lambretta.

Specifically, a 1967 LI 150 Series 3 with the number plate “KRU 251F.”

This particular scooter was sold at the Bonhams auction house on November 25th, 2008 for the hefty sum of £36,000.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the history of this Lambretta and its restoration process, check out the page on Bonham’s website.

#5. Corandino D’Ascanio Almost Became The Designer of the Lambretta

Before the scooter was completed, Innocenti had a meeting with a famed Italian designer named Corandino D’Ascanio to discuss vehicle designs for the Lambretta.

However, since D’Ascanio and Innocenti couldn’t agree to a vehicle design, the deal fell through. 2

Instead, Corandino D’Ascanio became famous not as the designer for the Lambretta – but for another famous Italian scooter…

#6 Innocenti made BMC cars

image of innocenti austin a40

For a while, Innocenti also made cars under license from the British Motor Corporation  – including the Austin A40 (pictured above). 3

Before BMC pulled out of the partnership in 1972 (after becoming a part of British Leyland), 67,706 Innocenti A40s and A40S had been made.

#7. The Lambretta Model B was the first Lambretta scooter with a handlebar shifter

image of lambretta model b scooter

Image by sv1ambo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike other scooters, which at the time had foot-operated gear shifters, Lambrettas had their shifters located on the left part of the handlebar.

But this wasn’t always the case – the first Lambretta (known as the “Model A”) had a regular foot shifter.

It wasn’t until the Model B (pictured above) was introduced in 1948 that the handlebar shifter was introduced.

Sources:

  1. Owen, S. (2019). Vespa and Lambretta Motor Scooters (Shire Library) [E-book]. Shire Publications.
  2. Davies, P. (2011). The Lambretta Bible: Covers all Lambretta models built in Italy: 1947–1971. Veloce Publishing Ltd.
  3. Davies, P. (2011). The Lambretta Bible: Covers all Lambretta models built in Italy: 1947–1971. Veloce Publishing Ltd.