Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Innocenti. In 1972, the Indian government bought the Milanese factory and the rights to the Lambretta name, creating Scooters India Limited (SIL).Today, the Innocenti brand name rights are owned by Fiat whereas the oldest Lambretta and Lambro trademark registrations worldwide are owned by Lambretta Consortium. Lambretta scooters were also manufactured under licence by Fenwick in France, NSU in Germany, Serveta in Spain, API in India, Yulon in Taiwan, Pasco in Brazil, Auteco in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina.
In 1922, Ferdinando Innocenti of Pescia built a steel-tubing factory in Rome. In 1931, he took the business to Milan where he built a larger factory producing seamless steel tubing and employing about 6,000. During the Second World War, the factory was heavily bombed and destroyed. It is said that surveying the ruins, Innocenti saw the future of cheap, private transport and decided to produce a motor scooter – competing on cost and weather protection against the ubiquitous motorcycle.
The Indian government bought the factory for essentially the same reasons that Ferdinando Innocenti had built it after the War. India was a country with poor infrastructure, economically not ready for small private cars yet with a demand for private transport.
Automobile Products of India (API) began assembling Innocenti-built Lambretta scooters in India after independence in the 1950s. They eventually acquired a licence to build the Li150 Series 2 model, which was sold under the Lambretta Series 2 name until about 1976 and later on changed the name to Lamby for legal reasons as Scooter India Ltd acquired the entire Innocenti Unit in 1972. API also built the trademark model [API-175] 3 wheeler which was based on Innocenti’s Lambro. API continued to build Lambretta-derived models until the 1980s but have been non-operational since 2002.
In 1972, Scooters India Ltd. (SIL) a state-run enterprise based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, bought the entire Lambretta manufacturing and trademark rights. Former Innocenti employees were used to set up an Indian factory as all the manuals and machinery instructions were in Italian. The first scooter built was the Vijay Delux/DL, which was badged the Lambretta GP150 in export markets. This was later enhanced to become the Vijay Super. Further improvements were made in the final years of production by incorporating a contemporary Japanese CDI unit and an advanced front suspension. SIL also distributed complete knock downs that were assembled in different parts of India and sold as the Allwyn Pusphak, Falcon, and Kesri. These were of a lower quality than the SIL produced models and sometimes incorporated significant styling changes.
SIL production seems to have peaked during the financial year 1980-1981, with around 35,000 scooters being built. However by 1987 this had dropped to around 4,500 units with production finally ceasing in 1997. As of 2010, SIL’s production now centres on the Vikram 3-wheeler, powered by the Lambretta engine. SIL also produces limited spares for the GP/DL range of scooters.