Lambretta & Mod
The idea of producing a cheap form of transport for the working classes immediately after the Second World war, was on top of each European country's list. When Italy was getting liberated in 1944 and the Allied Forces travelled up north, Ferdinando Innocenti saw the american Cushmans. A scooter which was used to convey intel from one division to the next. It was a revelation for him. As he already owned a piping factory next to the river Lambro, it was a small step for him to prototype the first Lambretta, called Experiment O. And so the story begins.
It was Innocenti who came with the idea of producing a scooter for the masses, as the American Cushman Model 32 was cruising around the Italian piazza's. But it was a young aeronautical general, named Pier Luigi Torre who made the Experiment O far more mechanically sound by placing the integrated engine and transmission mount over the rear wheel. And this was an innovative design at the time. In the 1950's Lambretta launched probably the best-known models as the D and LD series. In this time the competition with Vespa was getting more and more fierce. The Lambretta won many speed records and was generally always ahead of his rival when it came to engine size. The tubular frame and centred engine makes it more stable to ride than the Vespa with the motor mounted on the right hand side. Innocenti also came up with some technical advancements, mainly the disc brake found on the TV and SX models.
In the 1950's and through to the mid 60's, the Lambretta together with the Vespa was the choice of transport for a British subculture. The Modernists, or Mods. A culture that came to surface in a novel by Colin MacInnes: Absolute Beginners. He described the Mod as a jazz-loving and well-dressed gentleman. To get from point A to point B without getting there clothes dirty they wore a parka over their suit, got on their scooter, placed legs and shoes behind the legshields and off they went! The rivalry however that raged between Lambretta and Vespa in Italy also continued within the Mod-society in the UK and elsewhere.
In one corner weighing in at 242 lb, hailing from the Piaggio plant in Pontedera, Italy, the scooter that rides like a butterfly but stings like a wasp, please welcome the Vespa GS160 Mark 1. In the other corner weighing in at 242 lb, hailing from the Innocenti plant in Milan, Italy, please welcome the Italian Stalion, the Lambretta TV175 Series 3!
Blogs, websites, local newspapers and Mod magazines have been debating about this many times over the years. Without any conclusion..
I, however, just got word from a Canadian Mod who kept himself busy with this mindbreaking and almost impossible task. So without further ado but bearing in mind that the Mod scene was at its peak in 1965, the year the TV 175 Series 3 was launched and I know for a fact that the early 50's D and LD models where widely spread among the Mod societies of the world (but let's not go there).
The ultimate Mod-scooter is the...Lambretta TV175 Series 3.
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