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In 1931, the Italian Industrialist, Ferdinando Innocenti founded a successful engineering company most well-known for producing scaffolding and other steel pipes and joints. Just after the war he saw the potential for an economical means of transport and created the Lambretta, so called because its factory was in Lambrate, an eastern suburb of Milan.
Unlike the Vespa, which was built with a unibody chassis pressed from sheets of steel, Lambrettas featured a more rigid tubular frame to which the body panels were fixed. Early Lambrettas lacked bodywork and had scanty legsheilds compared to its rival, Vespa, but it had a larger 125cc engine—a good contrast to its 98cc competitor. Another important feature of the time was its second seat; it was marketed as more of a social scooter than a functional one. A more important distinction, the Lambretta engine was frame-mounted (Vespa was on a swing arm) resulting in superior handling over the Vespa.January of 1957 saw the introduction of the third series of LD, in both 125 and 150cc engine sizes.
As Lambretta was situated in Italy’s fashion capitol, Milan, Innocenti needed to keep its style en vogue. The new LD series had the advantage of numerous mechanical and aesthetic improvements, which made it an exceptionally reliable and elegant scooter. The LD featured a silent-bloc, mounting of the engine and an air induction via an expandable rubber pipe that reduced noise, especially at a higher RPM. The front was redesigned to add a sleek cowling over the handlebars and incorporated the speedometer/odometer and horn while leaving the headlight on the front apron. The glovebox was shifted from behind the front legshield and incorporated into the frame behind the rear saddle. It had an electric start and an improved 12v system with better electrical switches, a larger taillight, and a chrome "hood" on the front headlamp. The Lambretta, which up to 1957 was always grey, could be ordered in American blue, red and two-tone grey/blue or grey/red.
The Lambretta 150 LD was only built for a 18 months, totaling 4,000 units mostly for the foreign market. While a stock Lambretta sometimes lacked panache, “Mods” of 1960s Britain began to gussy up their scooters in the 1950s. Innocenti marketed extras for the LD including chrome trim pieces, extra driving lights, a clock, fuel gauge and radio. With all these accessories, Lambretta was marketed as the “sports car on two wheels.” Mod’s wouldn’t settle for the ordinary; they raided hardware stores for any lights, flags, or mirrors they could bolt on to their scooters. With the abundance of extra lights, these embellishments required other battery systems to be installed. Paul Newman, Princess Grace Kelly, James Dean, Debbi Reynolds, Richard Burton, Jayne Mansfield, Dean Martin, Cameron Diaz and Claudia Schiffer all rode Lambrettas.
Due to the decline in the scooter market, Innocenti ceased Lambretta production in 1971 after building some four million scooters. They sold their equipment for the DL Series to the Indian Government-owned Scooterindia, which went out of business in 1993.
Country of Origin: France
Engine: 150cc, 1 cylinder, air cooled 2-stroke
Transmission: 3-speed, hand gear change by twin cable
Top Speed: 50 mph
Years of Production: 1957-1958
Number Produced: 4,000 (150 LD)
Original Cost: £190