Of the hundreds of Lambrettas we restored over the years at West Coast Lambretta Works, this one stands out as an all time favorite.
The fact that it was a very early "frame breather" Series 1 Li125 from the late '50s was enough to get us excited to tackle the project - especially considering that it was brought to us nearly 100% complete, in boxes, with everything labeled - but the back story behind the scooter's history was the real treat.
And that story went something like this... (I'm going by memory here, so forgive me for any inaccuracies)
The owner of the scooter, Tim White, lived somewhere in Alabama if I remember correctly. His father was the original owner, having purchased it in Europe while serving for the U.S. military.
When it was time to return home to America after his tour was done, he discovered that the scooter was over the military's size and weight limits for shipping personal items. To get around this, he dismantled the scooter to have it shipped in pieces.
Unfortunately, even fully dismantled the frame was still too large... so he carefully cut it up into smaller pieces!
When it arrived on American soil, he (I assume with the help of some very clever engineering types, or maybe not...) welded the whole thing back together! This included welding the main frame tube back together just forward of the engine bay, welding the floorboard struts back on, and welding the rear body shell back in place.
As Tim told us this story I'm thinking to myself "Oh great, nothing is going to fit correctly, and when it's all done it's going ride sideways like a dog trotting down the sidewalk!" We took a good look at all of the welds, and they really seemed to be of top quality. In fact, the untrained eye would have difficulty which welds were original and which were not.
As the job progressed, we discovered that not only were the welds of beautiful quality, but the attention to detail was exquisite. Everything fit exactly as per original. If you've ever worked on a Lambretta, you know what a jigsaw puzzle they can be: one ill fitting part can cause the whole assembly to go off the rails. As usual we did a "dry assembly" before sending it off for paint work, and by that time we were already feeling that this was going to be one of those special jobs that takes on a life of its own.
When we got the paintwork back, the scooter almost seemed to assemble itself. Parts seemed to just jump off the shelf and into place, and when it was all done we stood back in awe at a timeless piece of Italian design and ingenuity. In our two and a half decades of Lambretta restorations, this was one of the last and most enjoyable of all. Bravo!