1960 Olympic Games Lambretta
Italian Mattia Paolini was recently on holiday in Galway, Ireland, where he met Ernest and Paul, two scooter fans who introduced him to Scootering magazine.
Details of an original Games bike recently unearthed and conserved.
During conversation they learned about Mattia’s scooter, one of the eighty 1960 Olympic Games Lambretta 150 Li IIs, and they told him that Scootering magazine had in the past published articles about these scooters and that we might be interested in the story of how Mattia happens to own such a unique scooter, so here it is in his own words…
Well, my dad bought the scooter back in 1963. He went to the nearest town together with grandpa and got the thing for 30,000 lire (€15 today). The previous owner got the scooter while doing his military service in Orvieto, a province of Rome, in 1960, where he bought it after the Olympic games were over. He was one member of the team of riders in charge of taking around international reporters in Rome.
Then, when my dad got a car, the scooter was dismissed and put in a garage where it laid for some 40 years, forgotten by all. This garage was a dirty and humid place, but you must consider that scooters are very popular in Italy so this was kind of a common practice. Sadly lots of scooters were lost, ruined or wrecked, even thrown away because of such carelessness.
In 2009 my dad and I thought it would be a good idea to bring the scooter back, and we started to get into the restoration process as two completely inexperienced fellas. We thought “let’s sandblast the whole thing down, and repaint it from scratch!” We simply didn’t know how precious the scooter was.
So we went to the local body shop and asked for information. They pointed us towards this guy who would disassemble the scooter for us, tell us what damaged part we needed to re-buy, and in the meantime we could have the body parts blasted back at the body shop. We were thinking, at the top of our ingenuity, to take off all the original paint, and then repaint the whole thing as new, reproducing the original signwriting and all. I remember spending an afternoon with transparent paper trying to trace all the original signwriting in order to make a decal of some sort to put on the scooter when finished. Not the greatest of the ideas, huh?
And there it came; the stroke of good fortune… When it came to buying the paint, we wanted to get the very exact colour, and the guy who dismantled the scooter suggested we should get in touch with Vittorio Tessera, this guy in Milan who we didn’t know anything about and who lived for Lambretta. Our guy suggested we should get the missing parts from him as well, so my dad one day rang him on the telephone. And what a good thing he did!
As soon as Vittorio knew what scooter we were talking about, but most important what we were about to do with it, he told us we must be crazy. He went on and explained how rare such a scooter was, and stopped us right on time before we made a big, great, huge mistake!
He told us the right thing to do would be what he called a “restauro conservativo”, and pushed us toward the right direction. That led to where we are today, and that we own a very rare historical piece of scootering culture, restored the correct way.
And here’s the second part of the story: my dad runs his family business – a little shoe shop – and one day he was talking about the Lambretta with one customer. Well it turns out he knew the former owner back in the day. After that little chat with my dad he must have got in touch with him because a few days later another guy steps into the shop, saying he was the original owner from the 1960s – he introduced himself to my dad, asking if he could see his old Lambretta!
My dad showed it to him, and the guy said with strong feelings of affection he thought the scooter was long gone by now and that he was very glad it wasn’t. He then gave my dad a few precious photographs of him riding the scooter in 1960, at the time and place of the Olympic Games in Rome. Another wonderful piece of history!
And that’s pretty much it. I hope you enjoyed the story of how we saved an example of the 1960 Olympics Lambretta, and now proudly own one.
Mattia and his father together with their rare Lambretta today.
The scooter in 2009 when they considered blasting it back to metal for full restoration, and again as it is today after a sympathetic conservation.
Above left: Luigi Sinigardi together with a fellow rider at the 1960 Olympic games. Above middle: Original Lambretta rider Luigi Sinigardi, during the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Above right: The Olympic Lambretta Series 2 today.
Left: Original Lambretta rider Luigi Sinigardi, transporting an athlete or journalist around during the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Above: A line of Lambretta scooters used at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.