c1955 Lambretta 125LD Scooter
Born in 1891, Ferdinando Innocenti started out with a steel tubing factory in Rome during 1922 before expanding his business to Milan in 1931, where he established a second factory producing patented metal clamps for scaffolding. By the time war broke out in Europe in 1939 Innocenti had risen to become of Italy’s leading industrialists and his company played a leading role in the war effort, supplying munitions to the Italian armed forces. Following the destruction of much of Italy’s industrial base by Allied bombing, the company switched its focus to producing a small motor scooter for civilian use. With a shortage of materials and few families able to afford a motor car in the immediate post-war period, Innocenti recognized the potential of the scooter as an affordable means of mass transportation – they were cheap to build, to buy and to run. Like its chief rival, the Vespa, Innocenti’s Lambretta scooter was powered by a series of two-stroke engines with capacities ranging from 49cc to 198cc, with either three or four gears. Unlike the Vespa, which used a unibody chassis pressed from sheets of steel, the Lambretta’s mechanicals were housed in a rigid tubular frame and sold in either "open" (with minimal panels and thus looking like an unusual motorcycle) or "closed" (with fully covered mechanicals) versions. Designed by engineer Pier Luigi Torre, the original Lambretta was launched in 1947 with a 125cc engine and the following year an updated ‘B’ version appeared that was both more comfortable and reliable. In 1950 Innocenti introduced a heavily revised model and expanded the range to two, the simple C and the more upmarket LC, complete with front and rear fairings plus a tall windscreen and weather protection. The scooter remained in production for two years before it was replaced with the new 125cc D in November 1951. For many the definitive Lambretta scooter, the D (and enclosed LD) models saw further refinements to the suspension, transmission and brakes (plus the option of an electric start via a 6-volt battery from 1954) and for three years it continued to set new sales records.