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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.