The final Lambrettas to roll of the Scooters India Limited (SIL) production line did so in 1997. I know, I bought one of them.
SIL were producing scooters using tooling they’d purchased from Innocenti in Italy back in the early 1970s, their scooters badged Vijay Super for the home market and Lambretta Grand Prix for the rest of the world. To many enthusiasts, these were the last true Lambretta scooters, but it hasn’t stopped others from jumping aboard the proverbial bandwagon since and using the name on all manner of abominations!
First we had Lambretta USA who apparently licenced the name from the Indian Government (who own SIL) exclusively for the American market.
Sadly all Lambretta USA did was to take a couple of well known, cheap looking, plastic automatic scooters produced by Adly of Taiwan, and add some ‘Lambretta’ stickers to them. Oh and they gave them Italian names; Uno and Due. The Lambretta USA website has looked a little stagnant since 2010 suggesting not a lot has happened recently, but if any Americans can update us that would be great.
Meanwhile, over in Europe things all started to get messy. In Italy a company named the Motom Electronics Group had been branding Asian produced scooters with a Motom badge (Motom being an old Italian moped producer from the 60s) and then launched the Lambretta Pato.
Pictured here with Italian model Valeria Marini, this was a Chinese scooter that had been badge engineered. In fact the scooter can be purchased with numerous badges on it around the world, such as the TnG Volare in the USA.
By this stage the Lambretta Consortium had raised their head, and amongst lots of confusing talk about who licenced what to whom, what company has used the Lambretta name the most, which person represents the true brand name, and who has got the best lawyers in a particular country (if you’re bothered, as far as we understand it, SIL purchased the name from Innocenti back in the early 1970s and therefore they own it!), Motom ceased rebadging the Pato from China and started producing the Lambretta LN in Taiwan.
For the first time since SIL had produced a Lambretta in the late 1990s, this was at least a scooter designed specifically to wear the Lambretta badge. It was powered by a 4-stroke, air-cooled 125cc automatic engine (of an old Honda design), boasted metal panelwork, and had at least been designed by Italians, one Alessandro Tartarini being project leader. This is the same Tartarini family that founded and is behind the Italjet brand of scooters by the way.
And so the story stops there for now, because of legal wrangles over who is allowed to use the name on what day, in what instance, in what country, and whatever….. such a shame really, but there you go. As is often the case, we’d imagine the only people getting rich out of this are the lawyers.