Lambretta is Back! Yeah, We Have Heard That One Before…

We’ve heard this one before…

The current owner(?) of the Lambretta name is doing it’s best to bring the Lambretta moniker back from the dead. Most recently they were at the EICMA show in Milan and they brought a whole fleet of new Lambretta V Special models to display. This is not the first time someone has tried to capitalize on the Lambretta name with the launch of a new Lambretta, but this time somehow feels different.

The last Lambretta made in Italy rolled off the line in 1972

That’s not the last Lambretta by any stretch as Serveta in Spain continued pumping out variations of the 150 Special and Jet200 well into the 1980’s. They even went so far as to design a completely new scooter they called the Amiga, which never really reached any serious level of production before the factory closed. But even this was not the last Lambretta as SIL in India was still cranking out GP’s using the tooling they purchased from the Italian factory after it shut down.

SIL Lambretta GP

Yep, that’s mine. Get your own!

The actual last Lambretta ever produced during the original production run was the GP model in India in 1997. Lambretta sales were dropping off in India due to heavy competition from more modern machines and manufacturers so SIL ceased production to focus on their Vikram 3 wheelers, which were also based on the original Lambro tooling the got back in 1972. Even though they ceased Lambretta production, they still retained the rights to the Lambretta name.

It all gets very muddy after this…

Scooters became popular once again in the early 2000’s and everyone became eager to use the Lambretta name to hawk their wares with varying degrees of success. The first instance was a joint venture between CMSI, who was the distributor of TN’G scooters, and Frank Sanderson of Scomadi fame. Basically they intended to produce one of Frank’s Series 5 scooters, slap the Lambretta name on it and call it a day. It was an attractive machine that very much resembles what he went on to do with Scomadi.

Definitely looks like a Scomadi

For whatever reason, that relationship didn’t bare any fruits so CMSI, feeling confident in the Lambretta name, decided to just slap that name on some Adly scooter from Tawain. The result of this horrendous decision was the Lambretta Uno and the Due, which are about as much of Lambrettas as apples are gourds. These were only sold in North America due to CMSI’s actual lack of trade rights to the Lambretta name and to only make matters worse, Lambrettas are not very well known here so it did little to aid in any sort of success. The Uno and Due were only sold for 1 model year before that whole idea went into the toilet along with TN’G and CMSI. Remarkably, someone is still footing the hosting bill so we can all pretend it’s 2008 again.

 

2008 Lambretta Due Yeah, definitely not a Lambretta…

2008 Adly, I mean Lambretta Uno.

Enter the Europeans

Not willing to sit back and let Americans rake in all this mad cash on badge engineering a Taiwanese scooter, a few different companies in Europe start getting in on this action. This actually made a lot more sense since Lambrettas are a lot better known in Europe. Whether that is through the actual scooters or through selling branded watches and T-shirts is irrelevant.

First out of the gates was Motom, who claimed legitimacy over the Lambretta name and decided the CMSI was actually onto something using badge engineering. Enter the Lambretta Pato, the most offensive of all the “new” Lambrettas. Say what you will about CMSI using Adlys but at least they were of reasonable quality. The Pato was literally a Chinese scooter made at various factories throughout China and could be bought under 100’s of different names at places like Pep boys. The only difference was Motom charged you more for the plastic badge they stuck onto the side. Thankfully we never got the Lambretta badged one in the US although we got more than our share of the same scooter under different names.

Thanks Motom. You clearly put a lot of effort into this…

Eventually they actually got their act together and designed an entirely new scooter around the Lambretta name and called it the LN. The LN series used a combination of metal and plastic and took cues from the original Lambrettas with their design.

At least it kind of looked like a Lambretta…

So confident were they in their usage rights that they even designed a 2nd model called the LJ that never saw production. This particular one was kind of a hybrid between a Series 1 and a Series 3 TV.

Is this a Lambretta?

Motom made a few critical errors along the way as eventually the courts decided they actually did not own the rights to the Lambretta name. To add insult to injury, when producing the LN model they went back to their old friends in China who manufactured the Pato for them. As is often the case with these manufacturers, they took it upon themselves to go ahead and make these and sell them to anyone and everyone under whatever brand they want stuck onto the panel.

Vietnam wants in on that action

In 2014 Italjet designer Alessandro Tartarini penned a new model that went onto to be badged the Lambretta Lamsport in Vietnam, while using the Italjet name in other countries. Props for the original design but it clearly looks like an Italjet from the word go.

 

Yep, that’s an Italjet.

Nevermind, clearly it’s a Lambretta. At least that’s what the badge says.

Enter the Consortium…

The Lambretta Consortium is a Dutch based company that also thinks it owns the rights to the Lambretta name, although they didn’t actually buy it from anyone including SIL. They went after it through legal methods and are still fighting SIL as far as we know. Props to them for hiring the design house Kiska of KTM fame to design the new model.

2018 Lambretta V Special Scooter

I guess this is a Lambretta now?

As with the LN model from Motom, SYM in Tawain was more than happy to provide their production skills on this new model. The core of the new design is the SYM Fiddle scooter as it uses the same frame, engine, wheels and suspension. I can only imagine this was a cost based decision as they didn’t have to design any of that. That allowed them to focus their efforts on designing the bodywork instead.

SYM Fiddle III 200i

I guess you could technically say this is a Lambretta as well then…

More new models announced

Thanks to all the borrowing from SYM, they have been able to quickly scale up the Lambretta model range since the Fiddle already comes in a variety of engine sizes. This past week at the EICMA show in Milan, they unveiled the entire 2018 model line along with a fancy custom tribute to one of Casa Perfomance’s race machines that was painted by the folks behind Casa Performance, Rimini Lambretta Centre.

Confused Yet?

I wouldn’t fault you if you were. I certainly am and I wrote this whole article! I know that Triumph in Hinckley is not the same as Triumph when it was in Meriden but at least John Bloor purchased the name and production rights outright. It would be a whole lot less of a stretch for me to consider this a Lambretta if the Lambretta Consortium had purchased the name and production rights from Scooters India Limited (SIL) instead of just registering it as their own and forcing SIL to come after them. SIL bought it lock, stock and barrel from Innocenti so the Consortium could have had a direct lineage going all the way back to Italy had they just bought it from SIL. Had they done that, they could unashamedly have used the Lambretta name and heritage as Triumph has successfully done.

Whatever the case, they have the name now and they intend to use it. Whether they get to keep it is entirely up to the court system. Regardless of what happens, Corazzo will certainly be ready to outfit any new and existing riders with a full line of Jackets, Gloves and Accessories so they can look good and stay protected.

-Peter

 

3 Responses to “Lambretta is Back! Yeah, We Have Heard That One Before…”

  1. Orin November 13, 2017 at 15:36 #

    The question is not “are you confused,” the question is “WHO CARES?!”

    Geez, once you sell the three dozen of these to the people who actually are familiar with Lambretta’s history and aren’t wailing and rending their garments because “it’s NOT A REAL LAMBRETTA,” who’s left? Nobody, that’s who.

    This is just like GM’s attempt to revive the Pontiac GTO in 2004: the people who remembered the original hated it because it didn’t look like the original, and the young ‘uns they seemed to think would be all over it aren’t impressed by cubic inches.

    It’s not 1964 anymore. There are more and more obituaries for aging Mods every day. The past is past…

  2. Peter Lundgren November 14, 2017 at 08:11 #

    Yeah, I really have a hard time seeing where any value is left in the name when applied to a new machine. Sure they could wax on about how they have been around since 1947 and hope that means something to consumers but is that really enough to sway anyone?

    I think the real value would be in launching a direct competitor with Vespa, because right now nobody is competing with them at their price level. Unfortunately with it being basically a SYM Fiddle and not it’s own machine, that’s not happening. If they actually took the steps to compete directly with Vespa, they could call it a taco, a burrito or a Lambretta and it wouldn’t matter as they are still basically starting from nothing but delivering a high end product. No matter what they did or could have done, it will all be an uphill battle because the name means nothing to their target market.

    • Orin November 17, 2017 at 18:50 #

      According to Piaggio Group’s 2016 Annual Report, the company sold approximately 169,000 Vespa-branded scooters worldwide. That’s simply not enough to make financial sense for a potential competitor (assuming there was one) . India is a 1.6 million-unit annual market for scooters because car ownership is prohibitively expensive for most Indians. Their products reflect this… the 2016 Indian Scooter of the Year, Piaggio’s Aprilia SR 150, sells for about $900 U.S., and it’s a premium product.

      The industry really needs to stop wasting so much time and energy on things like Lambretta revivals and come up with a plan to meaningfully grow sales in the U.S. and other major markets. So far, holding your breath is not recommended…

Leave a Reply