Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Mod scooter in the making: Lambretta TV175 series III

Let me introduce you to my dream bike, this Lambretta TV175 series 3. I love the story behind this scooter and for a blogger like me, a good story always helps. I have just recently acquired it. Technically, I'm the fourth owner but in reality, I'll be the second one to actually have a chance to ride it.

And these days, to actually know the provenance of a bike in such good condition is getting pretty rare. First, I'm just glad I didn't have to deal with a Vietnamese death trap. Cheap Asian restorations have flooded the market in the last few years and I've heard of many horror stories. A lot of the scooter shops in North America won't even come close to one, afraid that they might catch something.

My beloved Lambretta has quite a different background. A young, recently married couple bought it new in the sixties with a simple idea in mind; use it as transportation to go on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls. For those who are not familiar with the honeymoon capital of the Great White North, picture a kitsch Las Vegas but with a huge waterfall.

In the sixties, it was the place to be on your wedding night.

It's quite a romantic beginning, don't you think? According to the daughter who sold the scooter for her parents, the two-wheeler was stored after the trip and hibernated in a cozy garage for decades, taken out only occasionally. This would explain the absence of rust, dings and the very low mileage.

The scooter then entered its dark phase. Thankfully it wasn't for long. The daughter eventually sold the TV175 to an old Italian fascist who revered Mussolini and Hitler. My buddy who bought the scooter from him recalled seeing a picture of Hitler and his wife on the living room mantle. Creeped out by the hate speech and incoherent ramblings of a racist old man, he paid him and bolted out of the place in 4th gear.

More proof of the old geezer's stupidity is that he spray painted the whole scooter with a rattle can. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some amazing things done with spray paint but this was simply a lazy, bodged job. The scooter looked like a big blue-grey orange peal. He didn't even bother taking the badges off! He even painted over the horncast grill! You can see evidence everywhere of where tape was applied. From what I can tell from the gentle wet sand I did on the scooter, the original scooter use to be white. Can you imagine? I could have had a stock TV175!

My friend kept it in his garage for a year and eventually passed it on to me. I did lose the original front disc brake in the transaction. He used it on his stunning SX200. Quite the dream bike in his own right!

So here I am with the scooter I always wanted in my living room and illusions of grandeur. This is where the real work (and headaches!) begins. I was looking to have it run and put, as is, on the road for the start of the riding season but I have since changed my mind and I'm looking to have a complete restoration done. Do you have any suggestions? I'm listening...


  1. Awesome find! Great story. Color me jealous.

  2. Thanks! I appreciate it. I'll try not to gloat to much.;)

    Keep posted for the evolution and I'll be asking everybody's opinion on the different options and choices I'll have to make during the restoration.


  3. Sarah Tremblay NahrMay 25, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Congrats Pat on your great new acquisition!! It must be such a huge thrill for you to have found your dream bike!!

    Can't wait to see the evolution on your labour of love!!

    Congrats again!!

  4. @ Sarah. Thanks! I'm sure I bored you about that scooter when we were teens. ;)

    @ Out In The Street. Good question. Here's another part of the story. Apparently, from what I heard through the grapevines, the old racist Italian had it serviced by a friend of a friend. The mechanic had it ready for the road but couldn't get paid so he simply unhooked the ground.

    Since all I can do on a scooter is basically change a lightbulb and a spark plug, I haven't really investigated it. My first order of business is to get that front disc brake.

  5. Awesome find. I love these stories. I have 25 lambrettas and one third of them have amazing stories behind them. BTW there is a way to remove that bad paint job but it's very time consuming and delicate. I love to see the original paint. A little patina even adds to the value. I have restored a bunch of these so hit me up if you have questions. Again, congratulations.

  6. Congrats!

    Do everything you can to just take off the spray is definitely possible and will looks loads better than a shiny new paint job. The best looking scooters are always wearing their original factory paint in my eyes IMHO.

  7. Thanks Harmik! I have to agree with you about the patina. I have a friend who found an original TV200 with just a few thousand miles. He is not touching it, rightfully so. I might take you up on your offer and shoot a few questions your way. Thanks again.

  8. You might want to pay some attention to your front wheel.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. LOL! The front wheel is just there for the photo. Since I don't have the original front disc brake, I put a standard Series 3 drum brake for show. Good eye!

  11. If you take a rag with some light solvent, it will take off the rattle can paint without harming the original paint.... like gasoline. I had a friend spray paint his Lambretta to my dismay, told him he was an idiot and he said "Okay, you are right", and proceeded to pour gas on it and wipe it off... He says he does this all the time.

  12. run it not touch a bolt on this bike without running it first....

    Lammies are a dream to take appart....but they are a pain to put back together....


    They are only original once....and
    believe me you'll break it in no time anyway!!

  13. A little Lacquer thinner perhaps (wear a respirator) might do away with the rattle can. Great find and story to boot.

  14. Thank you all for your comments. I have a lot to think about... I might try that solvent idea. I have nothing to lose, right?

    I wish I could just hop on it and take off. It would first have to pass inspection at my local DMV and you all know how they can be sometimes... All the cables would have to be replaced for sure. I can hardly pull on that clutch lever. The gaz tank probably needs a good cleaning. I don't want to imagine the deposits that have been sitting at the bottom of that tank for decades. That's why I'm thinking of just going for the full restoration. Luckily, I have a trusty friend that seems to be willing to take on the project and has done amazing work on Lambrettas before.

    Meanwhile, I can always take out my '59 Vespa VNB for a spin. She purrs like a kitten!

  15. scootRS recently debuted it's new pressure cast SX disc repro....I just put one on my Eibar Jet200.....they even have one for drum fork links!!

    I agree with the other posters...ride it for a summer THEN take it apart in the winter :-)

    either way good luck!!!

    Chris in vancouver
    DAGGERS smc

  16. ahh a TV175...good fun to have and cheers for the purchase.
    I had one, a barn find hat was hacked to pieces. The engine mount was moved, etc.
    As far as the front disc brake goes, I just sold an original for $ really. They go up to $600 usually.
    scootrs makes a decent repro, possibly orig stuff, maybe, but others have Nos for a pretty penny.
    I have been scooting since 1989 so if I can help you any, just ask!

  17. cables and shit in the tank is pretty easy to for the paint ...Zellers in montreal have a maximum strenght nail polish remover...for 2-3 dollars a bottle...I'd give it a try inside a panel....and as this stuff is so volatile... do it outside!! and do not smoke!!

  18. great looking blog. i have acually got a LI125 (175) in what looks to be the same colour, satin black? great colour.

  19. Thanks Tom.

    Actually the photo makes it look like it's black but it's actually a color called Light Blue Metallic. I invite you to check the January 11 post called "The restoration of the Lambretta TV175 series 3 begins!" I discuss the different colors that model originally came in.

  20. Great story...I have exactly the same scoot...'65 TV175 series 3, which also has been sprayed white!!..Luckily & based on your comments - a little better, but still with a can!!...It runs like a dream, and completely original. Has had full service (luckily being a brit living in Italy, I get mates from the UK who's business's are Lamby's + Good clubs over here with great skills within the members. Not sure where you are with the Scoot' advice is "give it life" and drown yourself in Northern soul when it gets tough!!...Regards Ex UK Scooter boy/Wigan Geriatric!!