Most kids these days probably know Lambretta clothing better than they do actual Lambretta scooters. The scooters are rare. They were not very well made, most of them, so a lot of them ended up on the scrap heap. Others were involved in accidents and written off. With anything that is not made anymore, the scarcity is only going to get worse.
A Lambretta can fetch over £10,000, even more for some of the especially coveted series. That is more money than cash-strapped millennials can afford for a scooter. Plus, they wouldn’t ride something so noisy, expensive and polluting. You mean you can’t plug it in for diagnostics? How did people live in the past?
Who Owns Lambrettas these Days?
Nobody under the age of 40, or so it would seem. They have a certain look and style that is irrevocably nostalgic for certain generations and almost completely irrelevant to others. Sure, a supermodel might be seen draped over one, but it’s just another appropriation of 60’s culture we’ve seen a thousand times before. The desperate need to identify with your musical and stylistic crowd seems to have died in millennials. Dress how you like, listen to whatever you want as long as you like it, and try not to ride things that are miniature ecological disasters on wheels.
With the tribalism of previous generations a quaint novelty, a Lambretta will seem like either an inherited nostalgia or an individual style thing. Millennials are risk averse, they would not ride a Lammy unless it made them look super sharp.
Even though they are almost completely ignored by the phone-screen gazing generation, there are still dozens of clubs dedicated to the love and care of Lambrettas. If you are lucky, you can still see all the dads (and granddads) in town get together and take their Lammy’s out for a run on a Sunday afternoon. The bald patches and paunches on show do not do much for the enduring cool of a Lambretta but they have yet to kill the appeal. Much like bikers used to be muscly and bad looking (really? a generation asks), time has taken its toll on Lammy lovers.
But they don’t care. Driving a Lambretta is still a total thrill. Maybe you could not afford one as a young man but always wanted one. The kids have left home and now you can finally indulge. There are a lot of people in the same situation. Clubs have been around since the 50’s and remain popular. A way of getting to be with your friends, drink some non-alcoholic beverages, and take the scooter you had a poster of as a kid for a rag around the countryside has an enduring appeal that it would be sad to see lost.
Even though Lambrettas haven’t been made for a long time (Taiwanese-made ones aside), there is enough demand for spare parts that they are still produced in significant numbers. This keeps the thousands of Lambrettas on Britain’s roads going and will eventually result in many Lambrettas being mostly or entirely replacement parts. The soul of the machine lives on.
Will Lambrettas Ever be Cool Again?
Probably. Since the 60’s, fashion and trends have tended to recycle the same things over and over. It is only a matter of time before a handsome young man with a bowl cut and a Lambretta is making waves in the music world and a new generation is introduced to the Mod culture and all that went with it. Whether they will be able to afford a Lambretta while they are still young and handsome is another matter.
There is the possibility that local machine fabrication will make producing Lambrettas cheaply and to the original specs easy and cheap. The potential for relatively cheap machines to make complex things like scooters is enormous, and it is quite possible that 15 years from now, if someone wants a 1947 Innocenti 150CC, they can just order a new one. It sounds like the stuff of fiction, but it looks like it will happen.
Where to for Lambretta?
The clothing is popular, as classic Italian styling probably always will be. Whether a “green” version of the Lambretta will emerge to entice environmentally conscious consumers to Lambrettas is yet to be seen. The recent popularity of battery powered bicycles has led some to think about sticking batteries in cool old bikes and scooters but it has yet to take off. Maybe adding modern brakes, proper lighting, and efficient engines could help. Lots of people have converted their own but the will to produce them in any significant numbers is not there. Yet.
With time comes reinvention. One day, perhaps soon, there will be another churning of the old styles to produce a slightly original take on something tired and old. For a while, the Lambretta will be cool again, then, as it has before, become associated with the older, wider, wealthier people that can afford them. So the cycle will continue until there are no Lambrettas left and we are all living in space stations, or something.