history of the spanish lambretta

 Although less well known than production in Italy and India, Spanish factory Lambretta production has played a significant 

part in the European classic scooter market and has a long history.

‘Lambretta Locomociones SA’ was established in 1952 and by 1954 a significant number of Lambretta style scooters were being produced, under licence by Innocenti in a factory in Eiber, Northern Spain.

Prior to the production of the Spanish Lambretta 125/150cc ‘D’ in 1954 it would appear that Lambretta Locomociones was dealing in Italian (Innocenti) made models, presenting D and LD scooters and FB and FC three-wheelers at the Barcelona show in 1953.  By 1955 Lambretta Locomociones had built the 125/150cc D and 125/150cc LD models. The less popular D Lambretta three-wheeler was scheduled for production but it is unclear whether it was actually marketed or even mass-produced.   The former models (D and LD) were, other than their badges, quite similar to the Italian versions, although the D model was produced with an enclosed cylinder cooling system in order to deal with overheating problems.

Perhaps benefiting from close association with Innocenti, the overall quality of the Spanish Lambrettas was very high and this level of quality was sustained throughout the Spanish production period. Early factory output was also high and by 1960 50,000 units had been produced.  Nineteen sixty also saw the introduction of the Spanish Series 2 Li150 and later the Series 2 Li125 and Series 2 TV175.   Close collaboration with Innocenti was evident in the basic structure of these scooters.  However there were some characteristics which were individual to these Spanish Lambrettas such as a turning front mudguard and modified horncasting (like that of the UK Rallymaster).   These scooters were of excellent build quality, very strong and with perfect fitment and shaping of body parts. The Spanish Series 2 Winter Model is outstanding and its strength and quality is arguably superior to any of its ‘sister’ Innocenti, Siambretta or API series 2 machines. Spanish Series 2s were presented with a range of excellent paint schemes and a comprehensive range of accessories, including an attractive speedometer and legshield badging.   Light switches and lamp assemblies were of type 1 and 2 initially, then adapted in 1964 to take a ‘sixpenny’ (SX/TV) headlight as is standard on the Spanish TV175 Series 2. This headlight styling on a Series 2 is, of course, unique to Spanish production.

The reasoning for the radical changes to the Innocenti design of the TV175 Series 2 is unclear but, according to Perry Lewis (Totally Lambretta, UK) the modifications were in order to cater to the needs of the local Spanish market. As well as the ‘SX’ headlight modification, the TV175 was produced with a Series 3 type TV175 engine, disc brakes (probably imported from Italy), damper forks and a dual seat. 

A Spanish TV175 Series 3 was produced but they are quite rare as they were only manufactured for a short time, before being replaced by the JET 200 which was/is the flagship Spanish high performance Series 3 Lambretta.

Although Spanish Lambretta Series 2s were successfully sold into to a Spanish market, a considerable number of the Series 2 Lambrettas are thought to have been exported during the 1960s.   Production was at this point made under the ‘Serveta SA’ name and its (licensing) partnership with Innocenti remained strong. It has been written by Lewis that, along with Innocenti shipping, scooters were offered and/or exported for sale to countries such as India, Turkey, Argentina and Brazil. However, although this may be documented it seems strange and almost unbelievable that Spain in the 1960s, not much more than a modern-day third world country was in the market for exporting scooters to faraway countries such as India and Brazil/Argentina, who actually had their own direct licence agreements with Innocenti in place. Exports or no exports, Serveta SA production was formidable. At its peak Serveta SA was employing approximately 520 staff and by the mid 1960s over 100,000 Spanish Lambrettas had been produced.  

Capitalising on its success, a slim style or slimline range of Lambretta called ‘Scooterlinea’ began to be produced. This is the Spanish nomenclature for Series 3 Lambrettas that means they are completely different in their appearance to the Series 2 style, being a lot lighter and altogether slimmer and narrower all round.   There were 3 versions Series 3 production by 1966 – a 125/150cc, a 175cc and a 200cc model, all based on the Italian Series 3 Li with its characteristic metal front mudguard and horncasting but with the ‘sixpenny’ headlight and chrome ring similar to the TV/Li.

The Spanish 200cc model was called the JET 200 and was initially very similar to the Italian SX200.   Interesting features of the early JET were its disc brake, X200/Special badges and legshield, making it a splendid and very rare scooter.

Another introduction in 1966 was the metallic silver ‘150 Special’ (a copy of the Innocenti version) which began to be imported into the UK in 1969 by the UK company ‘Lambretta Concessionaires’.   A couple of years later the (disc brake free) JET 200 model was also imported into the UK alongside Innocenti and GP machines.  Despite the closure of Innocenti at this time, Serveta, the Spanish manufacturers, continued to produce scooters, substituting parts previously supplied by Italy with their own locally produced parts and also producing the 200cc ‘Pony’ in 1973.  This change in production led to a substitution of the SX/Special type panels with ‘clip-on’ Li items, floor runners by rubber mats and the use of a vented toolbox door to house the air filter in the toolbox.

The late 1970s were a challenging time for Serveta, now having to compete with the threat of the marketing of GP scooters by the Indian SIL factory, courted by eager UK Lambretta importers and speculators.   As a result of this increased competition the Spanish factory brought about a number of changes and updates to its 125/150 and 200cc Lambrettas.   The Spanish JETs were given chrome indicators and panel sticker stripes like those of the GP, then an ignition switch behind the seat to meet with modern security needs, a 6V headlight and square CEV handlebar switches.

The launch of the ‘Series 80’ range extended the range of Spanish scooters with features such as an ignition switch, a locking seat, ‘body-line’ indicators like those on the Vespa, fibreglass front mudguard and horncasting, higher voltage electrics and CEV lights.  Such updates and features brought a Lambretta which was introduced at the time of the UK scooter revival of 1979-1983, resulting in an increase in the import of Spanish scooters to the UK.  Although the actual numbers of imports was low and experimental. In comparison to the SIL GPs, these scooters proved good value, although there were reports of poor quality and problematic electrics.

The modernised style of the 125/150 or 200cc LINCE or LYNX, launched in 1983 with a new, larger headlight (in order to meet EEC standards and regulations) proved unpopular with many UK scooterists.  However there was a significant production of the LYNX Lambretta at the time and even a LYNX police scooter was made in 1984 with lights and a siren.

Although less popular and attractive than other Lambrettas, the LYNX was in general a good scooter with generally reliable electrics and powerful lighting.   The paintwork on the LYNX was matt black on the frame, with colour on the panels, legshields, horncasting and mudguard.   It used a Vespa PX type stand and the later model had an electric starter motor.

Despite its growth and market share from the 50s right through to the 70s, Serveta struggled to maintain its success throughout the 1980s during a change in Spain from a protected economy (in which the local motorcycle industry had prospered) to membership of the EEC (the first generation EU) and the greater challenges of increased competition and regulations.

In an attempt at survival several ‘prototypes’ were produced during the difficult years of the late 80s for the company.   For example, an improved LYNX engine was combined with a new style to produce the 1987 ‘AMIGA’ or ‘GITANA’, with a 24mm round-slide Del-Orto carburettor and a mag-housing mounted exhaust.   These prototypes were released to the press and presented in Milan but do not seem to have ever been made into working models.   Production of the AMIGA appeared to have been aborted due to a lack of capital, despite quantities of AMIGA parts being made or bought in from Italy just before the closure of the factory.

The name Serveta was substituted for Lambretta SAL in 1982 and in 1985 there was a change in ownership from Eiber to Amurrio.   By the late 1980s production of the Spanish Lambretta was making way for products by the same company such as washing machines and by 1990 the production of Spanish Lambrettas had sadly ended.

 

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