Moto Innocenti - Experiments 0 & 2
During World War II, Ferdinando Innocenti's inception of creating an inexpensive 2 wheeled mode of transport was born, a vehicle which could be produced in the Innocenti Lambrate factory in Milan, it was in 1944 he took inspiration from the American Cushman scooters used by the Allied forces in Italy.
Ferdinando entrusted Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D'Ascanio, who was responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, he was given the job of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver's clothes soiled.
D'Ascanio, who had a dislike for motorbikes, introduced many changes to his vehicle. It was built on a monocoque frame with a handlebar gear change and the engine mounted directly onto the rear wheel. The front legshield kept the rider dry and clean in comparison to the open front end on motorcycles. The step through design was geared towards women, as wearing dresses or skirts made riding conventional motorcycles a challenge. The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The internal mesh transmission eliminated the standard motorcycle chain, a source of oil and dirt. This basic design allowed a series of features to be deployed on the frame which would later allow quick development of new models.
However, D'Ascanio fell out with Ferdinando, who rather than a stamped moncoque frame wanted to produce his frame from rolled tubing, allowing him to revive both parts of his pre-war company. D'Ascanio disassociated himself from Innocenti and took his design to Enrico Piaggio who produced the monocoque framed Vespa from 1946 on. The final design of the Lambretta was done by aeronautical engineers Cesare Pallavicino and Pier Luigi Torre. Pallavicino had been Technical Director at the Caproni airplane factory during World War II before working on the Lambretta design. Torre was an engine designer at Italo Balbo's Idros; he designed the engine and organized Innocenti's factory for mass production.
Torre's Experiment 0 as it was known in the projects infancy, unfortunatly however it could not initally be put in to production in Milan due to devestating damage to the Lambreta factory from the Allied bombings of April 30th 1944 which had reduced the factory to dust, machinery sufffered extreme water damage rendering the factory useless in it's current state. It was not until mid 1946 before Innocenti, after a lengthy legal battle regained control of the factory, after the the Allied troops had declared the factory was for military use only, by the time this was resolved, Piaggio had already started production of the Vespa, which was designed by D'Ascanio.
During this period, Ferdinando set about reconstructing the Lambrate factory and getting production started as it was pre war. During the reconstruction, the Innocenti temporary head quarters in Rome relocated to a new purpose built building within the Lambrate factory called "centro studi".
Ferdinando, having full control of the project, was still not happy with the design of the scooter and several tweaks needed to be made before production began. The 2 images below show the stages from a refined design of Experiment 0 to the functional prototype made of wood of Experiment 2.
Expermiment 2, A design that shows off the mechanical workings, and not covered up as per D'Ascanio's design. It took almost a year in the design stages before the Lambretta M 125 went in to production in October 1947.