Rare Li Spe­cial


Scootering - - Front Page - Words: Andy Pho­tos: Steve Daw­son and Richie Lunt

Se­ries 4

Based on fac­tory records, the Lam­bretta Li 125 Se­ries 3 ended pro­duc­tion in June 1966, but be­tween Septem­ber and Novem­ber 1967, 1472 Lam­bretta Li 125 Se­ries 4 scoot­ers were pro­duced. The frames of th­ese scoot­ers were stamped LI4 and while at first glance they looked like a stan­dard Li fin­ished in a pale blue paint, on closer in­spec­tion they fea­tured clip on pan­els, push in fork buf­fers, a square In­no­centi badge on the horn­cast with the SX type rear frame badge at the back, and most had the later plas­tic tool­box too. Our con­clu­sion back in 2002 was that some coun­try had prob­a­bly placed an or­der for a num­ber of ba­sic Li model Lam­bret­tas with In­no­centi that con­sisted of enough units for them to dig out the old Li tool­ing, pro­duce the new horn­cast and side pan­els to go on this scooter, cre­ate a new model (Li4) as well as ob­tain new ho­molo­ga­tion pa­pers for part of the scooter. How­ever, with just 1472 scoot­ers pro­duced, it seems rea­son­able to as­sume that this or­der was can­celled, and as no ad­ver­tis­ing or mar­ket­ing for this new scooter has be­come ap­par­ent In­no­centi prob­a­bly sold them off within Europe to which­ever con­ces­sion­aires were in­ter­ested.

Why the brief re­cap? Well it may well go some way to ex­plain­ing how this Li Spe­cial came about.

Al­ter­na­tive Spe­cials

The scoot­ers ac­com­pa­ny­ing this fea­ture, the blue and white Lam­bret­tas, look at first glance to be or­di­nary Se­ries 3 Li mod­els. But they’re not. They are in fact Li 150cc Spe­cial Lam­bret­tas. No, not your com­mon or gar­den LI 150 (which ended pro­duc­tion in May 1967) or LIS Spe­cials – as in Golden, Sil­ver or Pacemaker – (which ended pro­duc­tion in Oc­to­ber 1966 when the SX150 was launched) but a dif­fer­ent model en­tirely.

I first heard of th­ese scoot­ers a few years ago now when talk­ing to the broth­ers Finn at a rally some­where. Mar­tyn was talk­ing about his SX150 with Li body­work that he was pretty sure was all orig­i­nal yet wasn’t sure why it was like that. Nei­ther was I, so I did a lit­tle in­ves­ti­gat­ing and that’s when I turned up the dealer ad­vert here­abouts. With the Su­per Starstream and the early Luna range mod­els also fea­tured, this dated it as 1968.

Ear­lier this year, by pure co­in­ci­dence, two scooter shops turned up ex­am­ples of th­ese Li Spe­cials. Disco Dez Scoot­ers had an orig­i­nal con­di­tion one and an­other in for a ser­vice, while Nick at South West Scoot­ers was of­fered the chance to buy a couple of old Lam­bret­tas that had been left to the el­e­ments for a num­ber of years.

While Dez and Nathan up in the West Mid­lands knew their scoot­ers’ history, Nick was ini­tially un­der the as­sump­tion the pair he’d been of­fered were stan­dard Li mod­els, one red and white the other blue and white. They looked vir­tu­ally the same, and in­deed the red and white one was a stan­dard Se­ries 3 Li. It was only when he took a closer look at the blue and white one how­ever that he re­alised all wasn’t as it first seemed.

More than meets the eye

So what are th­ese Li spe­cials then? Well the three here are stan­dard look­ing Li Se­ries 3s with blue and white body­work, the only im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­ing the ‘spe­cial’ badge on the legshields, and if you’re really keen the use of a ‘Lam­bretta In­no­centi’ rear frame badge rather than a Li one. How­ever un­derneath they have a frame stamped SX150 and match­ing en­gine. Not only that, but on th­ese ex­am­ples the frame num­bers fall in line with reg­u­lar SX150 num­bers, 7751xx and 7753xx, suggest­ing they were pro­duced around June 1968. This un­for­tu­nately sug­gests that it would be im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine whether a

scooter is a SX150 or Li 150 Spe­cial by chas­sis num­ber alone. It would also sug­gest that whether the pro­duc­tion of this Li 150 Spe­cial was in­sti­gated by an­other spe­cial or­der from over­seas that was can­celled, or gen­eral de­mand for the re­turn of a bud­get model in Europe, that In­no­centi didn’t want to go to the ex­pense again of cre­at­ing an­other ‘new’ model and so sim­ply used what they had cur­rently rolling off the pro­duc­tion line.

Of course by this time In­no­centi’s plan for the forth­com­ing new GP/DL Lam­bret­tas was well un­der way, so it could have been that they had a stock­pile of old body parts from the failed Li Se­ries 4 that they sim­ply wanted to get rid of be­fore 1969 to make way for GP range spares.

So, like the Se­ries 4, this Li’s horn­cast had the later, square In­no­centi horn badge, the legshields are non-chrome ring, the side pan­els are clip-on, and un­derneath a plas­tic tool­box is fit­ted. The ex­am­ple un­earthed by South West Scoot­ers has forks with bolt-in buf­fers and while they look orig­i­nal there’s no guar­an­tee of course. The other two have clip in buf­fers.

As for the en­gines, they are stamped SX150 too, and come with a SH1/20 Del­lorto car­bu­ret­tor rather than the LI Se­ries 3’s SH1/18, suggest­ing that In­no­centi sim­ply fit­ted the stock SX150 mo­tor to keep things sim­ple.

In the UK the Li 150 Spe­cial sat in the Lam­bretta range at £179.19s.6d in May of 1968 (ac­cord­ing to Scooter World mag­a­zine), but by the time the ad­vert here­abouts was pub­lished it has risen to £187.19s.6d, £28 more than a J125 Su­per Starstream, but £12 less than the SX 150 with which it shared en­gine and frame with, offering po­ten­tial cus­tomers a more com­pet­i­tively priced large frame 150. By com­par­i­son in March 1968

Scooter World pub­lished prices of the Vespa 150cc Su­per at £174.10.0d and the 150 Sprint at £207.12s.6d.

Some Bri­tish press of the time sug­gested that the Li 150 Spe­cial in­tro­duced here in 1968 was an “econ­omy model based on the Pacemaker but with direct light­ing and no bat­tery” but the Pacemaker had the SH1/18 carb too.

In­ci­den­tally, this Li 150 Spe­cial model was pro­duced by In­no­centi in Italy and is not to be con­fused with the Span­ish Li mod­els that Lam­bretta Con­ces­sion­aires im­ported from in the early 70s.

How Spe­cial? Talk­ing to Dean at Ri­mini Lam­bretta Cen­tre while re­search­ing this ar­ti­cle, he re­vealed the only ex­am­ple of such a scooter he’s come across was one of those at Disco Dez’s pic­tured here.

Of course as the en­gine and frame are both stamped SX150 there’s a good chance that most of th­ese Li Spe­cial mod­els have sim­ply dis­ap­peared over the years with sub­se­quent own­ers in­no­cently as­sum­ing the pre­vi­ous cus­to­dian had for one rea­son or an­other fit­ted in­cor­rect body parts, and so the scoot­ers have been trans­formed in to SX150 mod­els that their VIN sug­gested. For this rea­son, un­less any In­no­centi record sur­face in the fu­ture it is un­likely we’ll ever know how many were made, the ex­act rea­son as to why, and be­cause un­like the Li Se­ries 4 there is no ob­vi­ous mark­ing on the frame to tell us what they are (or were), the chances of find­ing any to­day are get­ting slim­mer. It’s also not known how long pro­duc­tion lasted ei­ther, with the SX150 tail­ing off un­til the fi­nal batch of 167 were pro­duced in Jan­uary 1969. Did it con­tinue un­til the end or had In­no­centi run out of Li parts by then?

So if you’ve got a Li 150 Spe­cial and can fill in any more of the story, then please do get in touch. And if you’ve got one it’s also worth re­mem­ber­ing that the chances are it is a rarer scooter than the GP 200, and it’s pos­si­ble fewer were pro­duced than even the Li Se­ries 4 too. Whether this adds any value to a Li 150 Spe­cial I don’t know, but I think there’s cer­tainly some ku­dos in hav­ing such a model, even if to all in­tents and pur­poses it looks like a stan­dard blue and white Li 150. Just keep pol­ish­ing that ‘Spe­cial’ badge on the leg­gies…

Above left: Rear frame badge of the SX mod­els, not usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with Li Lam­bret­tas. Above mid­dle: Noemi-Rosa seat, as fit­ted to all th­ese Li 150 Spe­cials. Above right: Ad­di­tional Spe­cial badge on the legshields, and late In­no­centi horn­cast badge.

Above left: Granted the rear floor­board has rot­ted away on this ex­am­ple, but when Nick from SWS re­moved the side panel he did find the orig­i­nal keys! Above right: Plas­tic tool­box is an­other sign this is a late model Lam­bretta. No bat­tery tray ei­ther.

Above left: The SX150 en­gine pre­fix… Above mid­dle: …and same frame pre­fix on the scooter at Disco Dez’s. Above right: SX150 frame num­ber on the SWS scooter.

Above: No bolts in­di­cates clip-in fork buf­fers on Dez’s Spe­cial. Be­low: Are the bolt-in buf­fered forks orig­i­nals on the SWS scooter, or were they re­placed a long time ago?

Top left: 20mm car­bu­ret­tor of the SX range used on the SX150 fit­ted to this Li. Above: Spot­ted the miss­ing panel han­dles yet? Right: Non chrome ring legshields, ex­tra Spe­cial badge and late In­no­centi badge on the horn­cast; all tell-tale signs on th­ese...

Above: 70mph speedome­ters fit­ted as stan­dard to th­ese Li 150 Spe­cials.


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