Cousins C.V. Ramakrishnan and R. Raghunath's love for Lambretta is evident from the five scooters they ride around the city
Cousins C.V. Ramakrishnan and R. Raghunath are diehard Lambretta fans. At a time when people opt for scooters with automatic transmission for easy riding, these seniors are holding on to five Lambretta and Lambretta-derived machines. What is remarkable is that these cousins keep these scooters — two Lambretta Li150 Series 2 models (1962 & 1976), a Lamby (1986) and two Vijay models (1976 & 1985) — rolling regularly.
“As he is 75 years old, Ramakrishnan plays it safe: he rides these scooters around Alwarpet (where he lives). In contrast, I take them to Ambattur, Tambaram and other faraway places,” says Raghunath, who is pushing seventy.
As bachelors, they have plenty of time for these scooters. “Over the years, we have learnt to attend to minor snags. Unlike the Lambretta LD we kept for a while, these Li and Li-derived models are easy to maintain. We went in for the Lamby and Vijay, because they are based on the Li platform,” says Raghunath.
The Lamby — the name Automobile Products of India (API) coined, after losing the right over the Lambretta trademark to Scooters India Limited (SIL) — shared essential features and critical parts with the Lambretta Li150 Series 2. Except for innovations in the later years, including a Japanese CDI unit, Vijay, offered by SIL, stayed tethered to its Lambretta moorings.
Interchangeability of parts made possible the link shared by these five scooters, and purchase of three other Lambretta scooters, rundown and beyond redemption, solely for the purpose of cannibalisation have made maintenance less stressful for the cousins.
Another factor in their favour is a trustworthy mechanic, T.S. Kannan, seen more as a member of the family. “With us since his childhood, he now has a job at the office of a nephew, who is a chartered accountant. Having trained to be a mechanic, he devotes his spare time to these scooters,” says Ramakrishnan. “He does not treat this as work but as a labour of love.”