The day we dis­cov­ered the twin

Dur­ing the mid-1980s Lam­bretta restora­tion was seen by most as a nov­elty. With the rally scene in Bri­tain at its peak most own­ers had lit­tle in­ter­est in re­turn­ing one back to its for­mer glory. Those that did faced a con­stant bat­tle to source spares. There

Scootering - - Contents - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy: Stu Owen

Stu Owen opens up on the day he stum­bled across the Twin Cylin­der Lam­bretta.

A trip to Italy

Hav­ing spent most week­ends sift­ing through the re­mains of old deal­ers’ stock it was in­evitable that at some point I would meet up with Nigel Cox. For a year or so he had been trav­el­ling the length and breadth of the coun­try clear­ing out what­ever the re­main­ing deal­ers had left. Soon our paths did cross even though it would be con­fronta­tional at first. See­ing that some­one else had the same idea as him maybe came as a threat but it was soon pointed out that no-one had ex­clu­sive rights to what Lam­bretta parts were scat­tered around the coun­try. A deal was soon struck to trade and ex­change what we had found as we were restor­ing dif­fer­ent types of Lam­bretta mod­els.

It soon be­came ap­par­ent that there was not much left in Bri­tain and Nigel had dis­cov­ered on a fly­ing trip to Italy that a vast amount of orig­i­nal Lam­bretta spares were still left over there. De­ter­mined to get his hands on it he soon planned and or­gan­ised sev­eral trips to the Lam­bretta home­land, of­fer­ing a paid seat in his car to help with the ex­penses. I duly paid up

Vit­to­rio, whose grasp of the English lan­guage was very lim­ited, keenly pointed out that the SX200 was “due­cento”.

and armed with a few mil­lion lire pre­pared to stock my shed with as many gen­uine In­no­centi spares as pos­si­ble. We would mainly con­cen­trate on the auto jum­bles which were like a mar­ket of Lam­bretta parts. How­ever, dur­ing the course of the trip we would pop in to see one of Nigel’s con­tacts he had steadily been making. One of these said con­tacts was Vit­to­rio Tessera whose house in Ro­dano just out­side of Milan had be­come a shrine to the Lam­bretta mo­tor scooter. Nigel had kept Vit­to­rio’s iden­tity a closely guarded se­cret and it soon be­came ap­par­ent as to why.

Vit­to­rio had been given per­mis­sion by the In­no­centi fam­ily to clear out what was left at the fac­tory in Lam­brate. While this would in­clude a wealth of orig­i­nal stock parts it would also con­tain a great deal of mem­o­ra­bilia. The idea was that Vit­to­rio would set up a mu­seum to pre­serve what Lam­bretta his­tory re­mained, which he duly did. Among the many archives re­cov­ered from the fac­tory were a host of rare ma­chines and pro­to­types that un­til then had re­mained undis­cov­ered. It was by chance that on our trip to visit Vit­to­rio, only a few days ear­lier he had made pos­si­bly the rarest find of all.

See­ing dou­ble

Vit­to­rio’s premises in the cen­tre of Ro­dano were quite large, with the liv­ing quar­ters up­stairs. This meant the base­ment could be con­verted into a Lam­bretta work­shop and spares de­part­ment of the most im­pres­sive kind. We were all in awe of what was on dis­play from very early open frame mod­els to some great fac­tory rac­ing ma­chines. How­ever what seem­ingly looked like a stan­dard SX200 and had gone un­no­ticed by us was soon found to be prob­a­bly the rarest Lam­bretta in ex­is­tence. Vit­to­rio, whose grasp of the English lan­guage was very lim­ited, keenly pointed out that the SX200 was “due­cento”. We knew this meant 200 but he seemed frus­trated that we didn’t quite un­der­stand. Quickly he took a pen to pa­per, writ­ing down the word cento twice, 100 x 100. Still con­fused and scratch­ing our heads he pulled the SX200 out and lifted it to one

side to ex­pose the un­der­neath. Again he re­marked “due­cento” this time point­ing to the two ex­haust man­i­folds com­ing out of the en­gine. “Twin cylin­der,” I replied to which he gave a strong thumbs up. We weren’t stupid or slow on the up­take – just in shock. You have to re­mem­ber noth­ing like this had ever been heard of let alone seen in the Lam­bretta world be­fore.

The mother of all test drives

Slightly dumb­founded at what we were look­ing at, Vit­to­rio was more than happy to take the twin out­side and fire it up. Two prods of the kick­start and it burst in to life, Vit­to­rio with a wide grin on his face as he blipped the throt­tle. What a sound it had and one none of us had ever heard be­fore com­ing from a Lam­bretta. Out­side Vit­to­rio’s was a long straight stretch of road which he quickly dis­ap­peared up in a cloud of blue smoke.

Af­ter a cou­ple of runs to warm the en­gine up he handed the Lam­bretta over to me to have a go. I had only met the man an hour or so be­fore, now he was en­trust­ing me to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the holy grail of Lam­bret­tas. What a predica­ment to be in – do I take it easy know­ing that if I fall off and dam­age it I can never show my face in the Lam­bretta world again? Or on the other hand, do I thrash it up the road and ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of such a fine cre­ation? I opted to take a ten­ta­tive run up the road to see how it han­dled and where to brake, which in­ci­den­tally were not the best. This was fol­lowed by a flat-out run to ex­pe­ri­ence its speed and ac­cel­er­a­tion, well sev­eral runs ac­tu­ally.

I was like a child on a fair­ground ride and didn’t want to get off. Though it was still early in my Lam­bretta ca­reer I had al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced the bone shak­ing qual­i­ties many Lam­bretta scoot­ers had to of­fer. This was some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent. The smooth­ness was in­cred­i­ble even at full throt­tle. Though not the fastest ac­cel­er­at­ing Lam­bretta I had ever rid­den, its per­for­mance was not to be frowned at. And this was in re­al­ity a fac­tory stan­dard ma­chine and if it had of gone in to pro­duc­tion there would have been noth­ing else like it at the time.

Pic­ture this

Fi­nally re­al­is­ing I was push­ing my luck it was best to quit while I was ahead and rest this price­less ma­chine while it was still in one piece. By now Vit­to­rio’s friend had ar­rived and quickly stepped in as trans­la­tor to fill us in on the de­tails. The twin had been found locked in an out­build­ing at the In­no­centi fac­tory where it had lain dor­mant for the last two decades. Ap­par­ently there were a set of blue­print draw­ings which ap­peared af­ter­wards, these con­firm­ing the project’s date. Vit­to­rio’s friend ex­plained how he had fu­elled the twin up and it ran at the first at­tempt. Be­sides him, we were the first to see it and take it for a ride since it was found a few days ear­lier.

At the back of Vit­to­rio’s house was a large open court­yard where we po­si­tioned the twin to take pho­to­graphs. Sadly cam­era tech­nol­ogy (or my cam­era tech­nique?) back then is not what it is to­day, so the pic­ture qual­ity was not the best, you have my sin­cer­est apolo­gies. Here for the first time though it was pos­si­ble to look ev­ery­thing over in fine de­tail. It soon be­came ap­par­ent it wasn’t just about the en­gine ei­ther, there were many de­vel­op­ment parts fit­ted but strangely none that made it to pro­duc­tion. It was plain to see in its build qual­ity the cru­de­ness of parts fit­ted con­firm­ing this was a pro­to­type. Since that time the twin has been moved to Vit­to­rio’s mu­seum where it has been nec­es­sary to care­fully clean ev­ery­thing up and make sure the en­gine is in full work­ing or­der. De­spite the sub­stan­dard qual­ity of the im­ages they show ex­actly how this his­toric Lam­bretta was found in its un­touched con­di­tion.

Legacy

Shortly af­ter­wards a sec­ond, more re­fined, twin was dis­cov­ered at the fac­tory, the one ready to take it in to pro­duc­tion. Dur­ing the intervening years more in­for­ma­tion has come to light about why it was can­celled, but if it hadn’t been… where would Lam­bretta tun­ing be to­day? Per­haps we know; Casa Lam­bretta is about to launch an up­dated ver­sion of the twin cylin­der en­gine, while Tino Sac­chi who pro­duced the Targa Twin ver­sion, di­rectly took the idea from the orig­i­nal draw­ings. Fifty years on from In­no­centi’s orig­i­nal de­sign, the twin cylin­der Lam­bretta has fi­nally come to fruition.

The orig­i­nal rusted key still sits in the ig­ni­tion with its spare. The Smiths ca­ble-op­er­ated tacho show­ing up to 12,000rpm, what were they plan­ning with this en­gine?

Above left: The rear end of the frame had been stepped out to pos­si­bly al­low for mov­ing the en­gine fur­ther back in the frame. Note the flat sided hub, again pos­si­bly for off­set­ting the en­gine in fu­ture, the lack of a lock washer not ideal be­fore a test drive. Above: The pro­to­type front disc brake show­ing the boxed in cal­liper. I couldn’t tell how good it worked due to the fact it was not ca­bled up, not the ideal sit­u­a­tion when driv­ing at full speed.

Above left: Though not the clear­est of pic­tures it is pos­si­ble to see the ex­tra long end pipe com­ing out of the main box sec­tion of the ex­haust, cer­tainly help­ing to keep the en­gine quiet. Above right: Quickly fab­ri­cated foot­boards to get by with while test­ing. The tiny tool­box sit­ting to the right of the bat­tery was not much use. On the sec­ond pro­to­type a leg shield tool box was fit­ted in­stead to get around this prob­lem.

Above left: The drive for the Smiths tacho can clearly be seen and was prob­a­bly used for test­ing pur­poses only. The sin­gle pipe from the main box sec­tion is more vis­i­ble. Above right: Both down­pipes go in to the cen­tre of the main box sec­tion of the ex­haust which lies par­al­lel across the frame un­der­neath where the splash guard would nor­mally sit.

Above left: The up­side down air box as it was aptly named which used a round type car­tridge fil­ter. Note the dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial used on the seat. Above right: Stan­dard fuel tank and shock ab­sorber were fit­ted, would they have been changed if the Twin had gone in to pro­duc­tion?

Above: A sep­a­rate shock ab­sorber mount again ev­i­dence that the en­gine may be moved slightly fur­ther back. On the tank there were two taps fit­ted one ei­ther side for each car­bu­ret­tor.

Two views of the rarest Lam­bretta pro­to­type in the world. Not that we no­ticed it as we first en­tered Vit­to­rio’s work­shop.

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