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Innocenti of Milan started manufacturing scooters in the years immediately following WW2. Identifying the need for cheap mass transportation, the Lambretta was designed by a team headed by Pier Luigi Torre, and took its name from the River Lambert that flowed past the factory. Early models relied on Innocenti's experience with steel tubing for industrial applications. It was only later in their history that Lambrettas had enclosed engines and proper suspension. Intended as practical utility transport, the Lambretta was a complete success, with demand far outstripping supply. Later the scooter became a style item symbolizing the freedom of the post-war era.
Lambretta A model and B model
The A model Lambretta was enthusiastically received and almost 10,000 were sold in the year before the B model came along in late 1948. With the B model, Innocenti attempted to solve the minor but annoying problems of the A. The wheels were increased in size to 3.5 x 8 inches and the suspension at the rear was provided by a coil-spring working on a knuckle joint between the frame and the engine. The foot gear-change was replaced by a left-handed change and the infamous control cables were re-routed on the outside.
Lambretta C model and D model
For the year 1950, a completely new design was introduced, the C model which was the first Lambretta to be constructed around a tubular steel frame. On the C, the front wheel was held by forks and trailing-arm suspension was fitted with the springs sitting forward of the forks. Tyre size was increased again and the overall result was a much better ride. The D model, introduced in late 1951 also had a tubular frame, but with different to the C in that its engine was able to move, with torsion bar rear suspension.
Lambretta LC and LD
The most significant development of the C model was undoubtedly the introduction of the LC (L standing for Lusso or Luxury). This was the first Lambretta to have a fully enclosed bodywork. The mechanical aspects of both scooters were the same, although a fan was added to the LC to aid cooling. The production totals for the C model Lambretta was 130,000, with two-thirds of these the open variety. Enclosed bodywork was also available for the D model (LD. By the mid-fifties enclosed models had become more popular than their open counterparts.
Lambretta L1 and TV175
The TV175 was introduced in 1957. It used Lambretta's new 175cc engine and improved four-speed gearbox and represented a big improvement over the LD150 in terms of performance. Lambretta offered the TV175 Series II model from October 1959 and the Series III in March 1962. In 1958 the L1 Series 1 appeared, owing its body style to the Lambretta TV175 (designation TV1) but with a new engine design. The L1 was produced as a 125cc (6.5 horsepower) or 150cc (7.5 horsepower ) model and sold in vast quantities. Series II versions from October 1959 and Series III from 1962.
Lambretta SX200 and TV175 S3
For 1963 the larger engine TV200, often referred to as the GT200, was built mainly for export. Incorporating the slimmed-down body style of the 1962 TV175 Series II models, it offered improved power and performance and is consequently much sought after by Lambretta enthusiasts today. In 1966 the TV models gave way to the new SX, which bore a close resemblance to its predecessor. First up was the 125 Special followed by the SX200, which featured newly styled side panels with a chromed "200" and speed flash. A SX150 model was also offered and up to 1969, 82,000 SXs were sold.
Following the SX Lambrettas and new for 1969 were the GP125, 150 and 200 models. Body styling on the GP was undertaken by Bertone and featured smoother and more back-swept rear panels with a sporty black line across them. The mudguard was reshaped as was the seat, headlamp housing and the handlebars. Produced in Italy between January 1969 and April 1971, all GP200s had a one colour paint scheme (white, red or yellow ochre) and featured a disc brake. From around mid-1970 a GP200 Electronic was produced with Ducati electrics, which proved very popular in the UK.