While many of us think that a classically-designed scooter has a very Italian heritage, the original inspiration for motor scooters came from the good old U.S.A. Cushman, a company in Nebraska, made a series of motorcycle-like scooters for the U.S. military to aid in the war efforts during World War II and to give certain soldiers personal transport.
After the war an Italian entrepreneur named Ferdinando Innocenti looked at the ruins of his steel tubing factory and decided to make scooters instead. He enlisted the design support of a aeronautical engineer and General named D’Ascanio, who came up with a simple vehicle, easy for women and men to ride.
Unfortunately, D’Ascanio and Innocenti couldn’t agree on final designs so the general took his design to another man, Enrico Piaggio, and thus the iconic Vespa was born.
Meanwhile, Innocenti took many of the features the general had come up with and a year after the first Vespa model (1946) debuted, he rolled out a similar scooter design and called it the Lambretta.
While the Vespa is to the scooter world as Kleenex is to tissues, the Lambretta scooter also has a large and dedicated following. The original company folded in 1972, but Lambretta lovers keep their vintage machines in cherry condition.
Every year Vespa and Lambretta owners, most of whom belong to local scooter clubs, celebrate their classic scooters.
Happening this weekend and informally called the ‘Lammy Jammy,’ the U.S.-based Lambretta Jamboree features a few ‘ride outs’ through different parts of Los Angeles, and even some drag strip Lambretta racing.
The three-day event is a chance for owners to show off their machines, sometimes elaborately restored and then exquisitely customized.
Whether you’re a Vespa or a Lambretta fan, summer is here and it’s time to celebrate the scooter.