Lambretta Is Back With A Retro Style Design That Delights
Images: KSR Moto/Lambretta
It looks like Lambretta is well and truly back after a few false starts. A long-time Vespa competitor, the Italian brand had disappeared for many years after it had been acquired by Scooters India in India.
The government-owned venture was managed by a series of incompetent managers who messed up the product and the ethos of this legendary brand over several decades, selling it off instead of capitalising on the intrinsic value of such an icon.
An attempt by the Motom Electronics Group SpA to revive the brand around ten years ago also ended in failure. Since then, Austrian group KSR acquired Lambretta, and its re-launch from 2018 seems to be successful.
The scooters have found a new set of enthusiasts, attracted by the retro design, which clearly harks back to the DL/GP. This was a smart-looking model range launched by Innocenti in 1969, one that had been designed by Bertone’s chief designer Marcello Gandini, in 1968.
To design the new range, KSR relied on its previous products, updating its frame in steel plates and tubes, and calling on the Kiska design studio to redesign the brand’s emblematic lines.
The scooter features a rectangular headlamp reminiscent of the DL/GP family but uses modern LEDs. It also has LCD instrumentation, a leather saddle and removable side panels.
The same chassis and body feature a single-cylinder engine, but in three different sizes: 50, 125 and 169cc, with the last badged a 200. The same technical and aesthetic basis is used for the three displacements, each one available in two versions with fixed or mobile front mudguards (attached to the fork).
Wheels are 12-inch aluminium rims, a telescopic fork for the front and a mono-shock for the rear. All have the same six-litre tank, as well as disc brakes of 225mm at the front, and 220mm at the rear, with the 200 the only one with ABS.
The 125 develops 9.4bhp and 9.2Nm against 10.7bhp and 12.5Nm for the 200.
Prices in France are €2799 for the V50, €3399 for the V125 and €3999 for the V200 (Rs 2.4L, Rs 2.9L and Rs 3.4L respectively)—par for the course in Europe, but rather high for India.
Despite being pricey, the Lambrettas are selling well, once again reflecting the success of well-reinterpreted retro designs. The origins of the DL/GP designs date back to Lambretta’s Li and SX scooter range, which had been in production—unchanged—since 1962.
The brief that Bertone received at the time, detailed that the basic design of the frame and the mechanical elements had to remain exactly as they were, but the sheet metal panels at the side, the mudguard at the front and the leg shield of the bestselling scooters could be changed.
Marcello Gandini smoothed out the bodywork, which received subtle surface treatment and cleaner lines, a squared-out headlamp unit, the mudguard and the leg shields were redesigned too, and the rear lamp unit modernised.
The facelift was much appreciated and most Lambretta enthusiasts believe that the DL/GP series are the best-ever Lambrettas, yet with the market for two-wheelers in both Italy and Europe on a downward spiral, the production life of Lambretta’s last scooter model ended in 1971 (having been launched in January 1969) with a total of a little over 46,000 made until then.
But Innocenti selling the design and tooling of the DL/GP to the Indian state-owned scooter venture Scooters India in 1972, was a godsend.
The latter produced the DL/GP, branded as the Vijai Deluxe, and later as the Vijai Super (and, also assembled and sold as the Allwyn Pushpak and the Falcon elsewhere in India) until 1997, with over 300,000 sold over two decades in India alone.
Like most state-managed enterprises, run by managers with no automotive culture whatsoever, Scooters India missed out on an exciting opportunity.
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