origins of the modern scooter - THE EARLY DAYS 

It all started back in the late forties with a country on its knees after world war II. Italy was struggling economically and the population needed mobilising. Fuel was scarce and jobs were few and far between and if you could find one they were generally poorly paid. With a good climate, very little traffic and great scenery, Italy was a country just waiting for someone to come up with the idea of the scooter.


pictured above, Mr Nicola Catani with his Lambretta model F, 1954

Towards the end of the war the US had parachuted in some 'Model 53' Cushman scooters for the Army Airborne troops to use. On seeing these Piaggio and Innocenti decided that a scooter was what the people of Italy needed to help them get back on there feet.  

Named after the river near where the innocenti factory stood, the Lambretta first rolled off the production line in October 1947. The Vespa, Lambretta and therefore what we consider to be the modern scooter was born.

After a slow start, demand for the Lambretta grew and 9,669 model 'A's had been built by the end of 1948. Despite this, the company was running at a huge loss of over 800 million lire.The bosses were convinced that the scooter would catch on in a big way, so were confident that they would recoup any losses over the coming years. November 1948 saw the release of the Model 'B'. To the untrained eye this was simply a slightly reworked version of the same scooter, but Innocenti had put a lot into improving the handling of their new model. They wanted their customers to enjoy the experience of riding their machine and had therefore moved the handlebars forward, changed the seat, added better suspension and increased the wheel size, all in an effort to improve how the Lambretta handled. The gear change was moved from the floor to the handle bars and people seem to like the changes. By the end of production in January 1950 they had produced 35,014 model 'B's.

Innocenti was now well in its stride and the 1950's was a boom time for scooter sales. To find out more about Lambrettas and ownership in the 50's and 60's follow the links on the left. Click here to read about Lambrettas in 1950's Bristol.

 

1947: 5001 - 5153
1948: 5154 - 14,670
Model B
1948: 00,001 - 01,854
1949: 01,855 - 33,175
1950: 33,176 - 35,015
1948: 5154 - 14,670
1947: 5001 - 5153
1948: 5154 - 14,670
Model B
1948: 00,001 - 01,854
1949: 01,855 - 33,175
1950: 33,176 - 35,015
1947: 5001 - 5153
1948: 5154 - 14,670
Model B
1948: 00,001 - 01,854
1949: 01,855 - 33,175
1950: 33,176 - 35,015
Model A
1947: 5001 - 5153
1948: 5154 - 14,670
Model B
1948: 00,001 - 01,854
1949: 01,855 - 33,175

Sadly production of the Lambretta ceased in Italy in 1972, the country and indeed the whole continent was moving on into a bright new world of car ownership and demand for the scooter had dwindled. The Lambretta was already making friends in far off places, being popular in India and Asia by this time. When the Italian factory closed the Indian goverment bought the tooling and remaining parts and so began a whole new era of the Lambretta story and Scooters India Limited or 'SIL' as it is known was born. SIL are still going today producing three wheelers after ceasing production of two wheel scooters in 1998.

 
lambro 550 taxi Vietnam c1968  

US War photographer Richard Calmes took this snap in 1968 whilst doing a tour in Vietnam. He said ''This was typical. There must be 25 people piled on this 3 wheeled motor scooter taxi. These Vietnamese spent the day working as hooch maids and in the mess halls. Sorry it is not focused well as I was driving a jeep and taking this shot at the same time. No autofocus back then.'' Don't worry I think we will forgive you Richard! 

 

frame numbers

 
Model A
1947: 5001 - 5153
1948: 5154 - 14,670

 
Model B
1948: 00,001 - 01,854
1949: 01,855 - 33,175
1950: 33,176 - 35,015

Welcome

Recent Photos

Recent Forum Posts

Send to a friend

MEETINGS & EVENTS

Wednesday, Oct 18 at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Sunday, Nov 5 at 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, Nov 15 at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Sunday, Dec 3 at 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM