Lambretta Model E

E Specifications

Years produced: 1953 - 1954
Amount produced: 42,352
Engine: 1 cylinder, air cooled 2-stroke
Induction: piston ported
Bore: 52 mm
Stroke: 58 mm
Cubic capacity: 123 cc
Compression ratio: 6.3:1
BHP at rpm: 3.8 @ 4500
Transmission: 3 speed (hand)
Lubrication: 5%
Carburetor: Dellorto MU 14 B1
Ignition: contact breaker & points
Ignition timing: 25 degrees BTDC
Breaker gap: 0.3-0.4 mm
Voltage: 6 volt
Wheel size: 8"
Tire size: 4 x 8
Max speed: 44 mph
Total dry weight: 128 lbs


The politics within the Innocenti company to lower costs as much as feasibly possible came to a head in 1953 with the presentation of the Lambretta 125 E, which was offered at the incredibly low price of only 108,000 Italian lira. To give an idea of the competition, however, we must remember that the 125 Vespa U model was selling for 130,000 Italian lira, and the very popular Motom moped was going for the respectable price of 102,000 Italian lira.

The long and difficult project finally put this super economic Lambretta on the road was the subject of many bitter discussions between the design department and the sales department. The commercial price of the E could under no circumstances surpass 108,000 Italian lira, an amount for which the design department said was impossible to produce a reliable scooter.

In the end the engineers were shown to be correct. The Lambretta E proved to be extremely delicate mechanically and the suspension (especially the front) was mediocre at best. Most of all, this technically inferior scooter darkened the Innocenti name, which had once been associated as a guarantee of high quality and reliability for its entire Lambretta line. Even if it looks stylistically similar to the 125 D, the E was a completely new design down to the smallest details. The legshield, the seat support, the rear fender and license plate holder were all welded to the frame, which was formed by a single steel tube. The dual arms of the front fork were angled backwards, the shocks were redesigned with blade springs wrapped around a split ring, and the wheel rims were made out of one piece of stamped metal.

The most interesting part, however, was the engine mounted with the shaft situated longitudinally that reduced the number of transmission parts needed and improved the mechanical performance at the same time. The pull-string starter was just like an outboard motor. To start the engine, the driver would have to pull the plastic handle upwards but be careful not to tip the whole scooter off of its flimsy side stand. This complicated operation was too difficult for scooter novices or the delicate hands of a young lady, so many accessory companies soon offered a conversion to turn the E into a kick-starting scooter. The Achilles heel of the Lambretta E was definitely its magneto and the starter. In the eleven months in which the E was built, seven different types of magnetos were used and three various spark plugs without ever definitely resolving the awful electrical system and the annoying tendency of the scooter to backfire upon starting.

With all of these problems, the one highlight of the Lambretta E was its extremely good gas mileage; it could go more than 60 kilometers on a mere liter of mixed gas and oil. In a gas consumption test by Motociclismo magazine in 1954, an expert motorcyclist was able to drive an E getting 86 kilometers per liter of gas.

The initial enthusiasm that the Lambretta E garnered as "the scooter for everyone" was soon followed by numerous complaints and unsatisfied consumers who expected much higher quality from Innocenti. Because of the clamor against the E, the company was forced to take the model off of the market less than one year after its debut. The last batch of Lambretta Es were modified with a pedal starter and put on the market as the new version of the Lambretta F. And so ends an ugly chapter in the history of the Lambretta, but one that was a warning to Innocenti and would help them learn to always strive for the highest quality in future models.