They started as cheap post-World War II transportation in Italy, became a youth fashion accessory in the 1960s, then died out in the 1970s.
We’re talking classic Italian scooters, of course, and the two biggest names were Vespa and Lambretta. But while they both sprouted from similar roots, the two companies took markedly different approaches to creating a scooter, as evidenced by this Lambretta LD 150.
Introduced in 1951-’52, six years after the company started producing scooters to provide basic transportation in post-war Europe, the LD line bridged Lambretta’s early form-follows-function years and its later success as a stylistic icon of the Jet Set age.
In contrast to Vespa’s pressed-steel monocoque frame design, Lambrettas were built around a single, large-diameter tube that started at the steering head, ran below the rider’s feet, then curved up to run above the rear-mounted motor.
The LD, the “lusso” or luxury version of the 125cc L, was among the first models to feature side-panel engine covers, which gave the scooter a more sculpted look. And that swoopy, stylish, all-encompassing bodywork quickly turned heads, becoming an instant classic.
Flowing cleanly from the wide front legshields to the stylized, kidney-shaped engine covers, the bodywork defined the Lambretta look. Though tweaked in the years that followed, the overall theme remained through the 1970s, and has become synonymous with the marque.
The LDs eventually grew to 150cc, like this 1957 model, and paved the way for the wildly popular TV, LI and SX models of the1960s. Through those years, the engine would grow, the vertical cylinder would turn horizontal, the engine covers would get more rounded, shaft drive would be replaced by chain, and scootering would become a full-on youth movement in Europe (as seen in the movie “Quadrophenia”).
By the early 1970s, though, style—however iconic—wasn’t enough. Faced with stiff competition from Japanese brands, full-on motorcycles and youth riders who had aged out of the scooter craze, the Lambretta factory ultimately shut its doors in 1972.
CLASSIC Quick List
Engine 125 or 150cc two-stroke single cylinder
Transmission Unit-type, controlled by handlebar twistgrip