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Lamster (Lambretta / Italjet Dragster)

January 2nd, 2010

A sublime mix of old skool Lambretta and new wave Italjet Dragster, a custom scooter which some might say is the best of both worlds.

David Briggs, the builder of this machine, acquired his first scooter at sixteen and was sprinting Lambrettas with Frank Osgerby back in 1976. Responsibilities as a family man put an end to his drag racing career in the early 80s and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that he began restoring scooters. Times have changed since the mid-seventies when Dave was achieving mid-15s for the quarter mile. It’s possible that you’re looking at a 14 second machine here too. Because sitting tucked away behind the traditional exterior sits a 26hp Piaggio engine attached to the remains of an Italjet Dragster.

A trip to Grimsby to meet Dave and take a closer look at his creation confirmed two things: Grimsby is indeed grim and secondly, auto Lambrettas could well be the way forward for modern retro scootering. Since creating Lamster Dave has gone on to build a variety of other custom scooters. This was Dave’s second complete auto conversion. If anything it all seems to be a bit of an underground sub-culture, these auto conversions, mostly confined to hobbyists and those with a dab hand in mechanics. The purists may well label them ‘oddities’ (the scooters not the owners, then again.. maybe both!) but there is a clear practical reason for fitting auto engines to a traditional scooter chassis and that’s reliability. Having said that, nothing’s ever perfect first time round and ‘teething problems’ are somewhat inevitable. One of the main problems that occur with a lot of these conversions, is the well known vibrations through the frame issue. Dave managed to sidestep the vibration white finger scenario in one fell swoop by retaining the original engine mounts used on the Dragster with Piaggio’s tried and tested two-stroke 125/180 lump. So what he’s done is he’s grafted, quite literally, an entire Dragster trellis frame (minus the front end) and welded it to a Lambretta headstock and forks. The end result is a chassis that offers a smooth ride with no vibrations.

As Dave wanted the scooter to look like a GP street racer he utilised the GP drops from Scoots RS GP legshields which have been cut at the base. The part of the Dragster trellis frame where the front shock absorber normally resides has been boxed in and a nifty a toolbox compartment has been added. At the front is a standard GP front mudguard, and the front Lambretta forks have been widened to accommodate a Gilera front wheel. Frank Sanderson’s coil over shocks and links and anti-dive unit have been incorporated and complete the job nicely in the handling department. Beneath the side panels sits a one-off fuel tank and mounted behind it is the battery. The original Dragster header tank has been utilised and this sits behind the original Lambretta toolbox door. The original Dragster radiator has also been retained and has been fitted underneath the scooter enclosed in a one-off belly pan air scoop designed and built by David.

Going back to the engine, PSN Scooters in Batley, were commissioned to do all the tuning work. So, unsurprisingly, the scooter can really motor. The spec comprises of a Malossi barrel, Malossi crank, Malossi reed valve, PM billet cylinder head and skull cap, 28mm KOSO carb, Polini carb manifold, foam air filter, a PM59 exhaust, Chiselspeed rear shock absorber and a rear wavy brake disc. Horsepower (at the time of writing) stands at a respectable 26.6hp on the dyno with a top speed of 90mph, the scoot will happily cruise at full throttle at around the 80mph mark.

This particular auto conversion is a one off, if you’re interested in a bespoke Lambretta conversion like Lamster, then give Dave a call on (01472) 371253 or 07786 650101. He can offer Lambretta frame conversions to take an auto engine as well as full builds, wiring looms and all associated parts for Lambretta autos.

Words & Photos: Paul Robinson

This article was originally published in the print version of PETROL ISSUE.01