It has been on the cards for a number of years, as reported by ScooterNova both online and in print, but the sad day has arrived when Scooters India Ltd has finally closed the doors of the last Lambretta factory in the world.
After Innocenti ceased production of the Lambretta in Milan in 1971, they sold the factory tooling along with the Lambretta and Lambro brand names to the Indian Government. They subsequently formed a company named Scooters India Ltd and shipped everything from Italy to India to begin production at a newly built factory in Lucknow a few years later.
There they produced versions of the Lambretta Grand Prix (aka dl) and the Lambretta Cento. After a while these names remained in use for export models only, while those for the local Indian market were renamed the Vijai and Sunny respectively.
SIL also sent parts and scooters in kit form for local assembly at other factories and plants around India.
Eventually the government-owned company was allowed to get into financial difficulties, production targets never quite reaching what had been hoped for.
Scooter production ceased in 1997, while production of their Lambro style three-wheelers continued. However for a number of years it has been listed as ‘sick company’ with the government searching for a buyer.
In January 2021 we reported in our online blog here that the threat of closure looked to be finally amounting to something. We also wrote about the demise of SIL in edition 24 of ScooterNova magazine.
And if you would like to see and read about the SIL Lambretta factory when it still had scooters on the production line, we covered that in edition 24 too with our friend and scooter club-mate Bob reporting on his visit there back in 1994. Click here for details.
Here at ScooterNova we have always appreciated the Indian produced scooters, owning a few between us. Andy in fact has one of the last Lambrettas from 1997. We have published numerous articles about them in the magazine too, including the SIL Lambretta J in edition 5, and also celebrated the SIL incarnation of Bertone’s Lambretta design, the GP in edition 16 of ScooterNova magazine.
Sadly however, Scooter Center Koln have posted a blog today confirming that the SIL factory is no more. For further details about that story and to see more images of what remains at the factory in Lucknow, click the SCK blog link here.
Apparently the factory doors are closed and the contents will soon be put up for auction.
Paul at Scooter Restorations in Notts has been dealing with SIL for many years now and before Covid used to make regular visits to the factory on buying trips. He told ScooterNova, “Most of what is there, as you can see, is sadly not worth anything. SIL have not produced a scooter since the 1990s nor any scooter or 2-stroke parts for many years now. There is a lot of three-wheeler stuff there, but most of the two-wheeler parts that were any good we purchased a few years back. What you can see in the photos is either damaged or scrap, or stuff that nobody wants. For example, the photo of the handlebar gear change with a square Serveta light switch will only fit the fatter SIL GP handlebars and is therefore no good for the original Spanish handlebar. We have a few, but who wants them? Even the tooling is worn, and some of it damaged as you can see from the photo of the engine casing tooling. Nevertheless it is a sad day that they have finally closed the doors.”
Over the years SIL received negative comments for the quality of their parts, some justified but others not. Innocenti didn’t have a 100% record either and both factories suffered from inferior pattern parts being confused with the originals. SIL Lambretta parts were not always perfect, but then by the end nor was the old tooling they were using either. That said, while parts may not have looked pretty, they often worked, and the fact remains that they were being produced for scooters that were not luxury vehicles but cheap transport for the masses.
So RIP SIL and thank you for many years of service with scooters, spare parts, electronic ignitions, and generally helping to keep our old classic Lambrettas on the road today.
**Edition 30 (March/April) of ScooterNova magazine was published on 25 February 2022. ScooterNova is available from all good scooter shops or via mail order from our secure online shop here.
For those who appreciate the wider Lambretta family (we are referring to geared classics by the way), then you might well enjoy a forthcoming article on some of the lesser known Indian scooters that came from SIL’s and other Lambretta-related tooling. It is pencilled in for a future edition of ScooterNova magazine.