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Updated: June 7, 2013 13:06 IST

A Series win

PRINCE FREDERICK
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Raghavan has a 1960s 150cc Li Series II, a model that raked in the moolah for Lambretta

Quite a number of Lambretta models sported a headlight that did not move in tandem with the steering. This headlight, which peeped out of the front horn-casting, had a fixed position right below the handlebars. No doubt this headlight design was striking, but when seen in the light of safety parameters, it did not quite pass muster.

With only a six-volt electric system built into them, Lambrettas also did not cast a long and wide beam of light. So the rider was clearly at great risk.

The Li Series II was free of this shortcoming – the headlight was sandwiched between the left and right handlebars, and therefore moved with them. Series II differed from Series I also by virtue of a new handlebar assembly (which could be split into two horizontal halves by unscrewing two bolts). In the series I, a round -shaped speedometer jutted out from between the handlebars like a boardwalk into the sea. In the Series II, the same rounded speedometer was tucked neatly and unobtrusively into the top of the handlebars.

As further improvement on the Series I, the Li designers incorporated a small rectangular, green-coloured strip of plastic on top of the headlight. When the high beams flashed, this plastic piece glowed. Barring major differences in handlebar design and headlight positioning and a minor one involving the horn-casting, Series I and Series II Li models had identical bodies. Both shared a common badging system — a long strip of metal-based ‘Lambretta’ badge was affixed on both side-panels. A smaller metallic ‘Lambretta’ badge and another announcing model details adorned the legshield. Made of plastic, an Innocenti badge was placed on the upper portion of the horn-casting. A cosmetic air vent located behind the rear seat was a carry-over from the Series I scooters made when models was reaching its fag end.

Also in terms of performance-related parts, the two models had points of similarity. Both offered 125cc and 150cc variants. There were differences in carburetion, but they were of a minor nature. In both Series II and late-Series I scooters, the carburetor received air via a scoop lodged under the front seat.

From Series I to Series II, the Li model underwent gradual changes. When the Li model graduated to Series III, the styling was markedly different. Whatever the look, the Li model was a success at all stages of its evolution — with the Series II being the most commercially successful of the three (some believe this line eclipsed any other that Innocenti offered). And in the Li Series II range, the 150cc scooter raked in much of the money.

Over two lakh 150cc Lambretta Li Series II scooters were manufactured. In the 1960s, Automobile Products of India (API) manufactured this model and marketed it under the Innocenti name. As a result, it is not difficult to find classic 150cc Li Series II machines in the country today. The only problem with these scooters is that they invariably carry parts that are poor substitutes for the original ones. Given this scenario, S. Raghavan’s 150cc Lambretta Li Series II is quite a whiff of fresh air. From badging to cosmetic air vent and from the plastic strip to the rubber strips (running over aluminium channels) on the floor boards, this scooter has them all — well, almost all.

Having got it from a relative a year ago, the 55-year-old bank employee had the vehicle brought up to snuff by professional restorer Suri. “The scooter did not require extensive replacement of parts,” says Raghavan. “The speedometer does not work — but I retained it because it is a rare piece of Innocenti history.”

Keywords: Lambretta

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