Lambretta Model D and LD
The first Lambretta scooters imported to the U.S. were the Model D and the LD. I am not sure the exact date when a U.S. distributor was established, but it appears to have been around 1955. The two scooters were sold along side each other, but from the amount of scooters still surviving, it appears that the D was not much of a success in this country. Even now, 50 years on, it is still not very hard to find a decent running LD. Model D's are quite a bit more scarce.
Generally, the two scooters are very similar. The LD being a more luxurious version of the Model D. The LD had bodywork covering the motor, a full legshield, front fender, and more. There was even an electric start version of the LD, which was very expensive, and did not sell well.
The LD is easily identifiable by its exposed chrome handlebars and horn located below the headlight. Additionally, all LD's had 8in wheels, and the generally poor handling that goes with them. It was the last factory-produced Lambretta with a turning front mudguard.
The 57 Ld is essentially the same as the earlier model, except for a few minor changes. They are easily distinguishable from the earlier LD by the headset. The handlebar is covered by a cowling that houses the horn and a speedometer.
The D and LD motor is the last in the line of the shaft drive Lambretta motors. From the first Model A, the Lambretta motor evolved, with various improvements, to the LD. The motors used on the D and LD were identical, and were available in 125 and 150cc versions. They had a vertical cylinder with air cooling, which was fed via a fan attached to the flywheel. The three speed transmission reached the rear wheel via an enclosed shaft drive. This system was robust and reliable. The only downside is that it required a series of bevel gears to work, which can be difficult to repair and must have been very expensive to produce. On the D especially, access to the motor is easy, and the nice design of the engine cases is apparent. Apart from the shaft drive, the motor itself is simple, and reliable. One other interesting feature on these motors was the suspension. The entire motor doubled as a rear swing arm. At the back of the case was a small dampener. at the front of the motor was a torsion-bar which helped provide a smooth ride and reduce the unsprung weight of the motor.
Many mechanical spare parts are generally available even today, although body parts are not being reproduced and can be very hard to find for these models. Avoid buying any LD which is not 100% complete if you don't plan on spending a lot of money and time looking for rare spare parts. The motor design is very different from the later Lambrettas, and can be quite tricky to work on by someone unfamiliar with it, this is especially true of the enclosed beveled shaft drive system.
The 125's are essentially too slow to really be drivable in today, but the 150 is on the lower edge of safe power. The lights on all LD's that I have seen have been so poor as to be just about useless. The LD is an interesting scooter, it was solidly built and is a good collector's piece. They look good, especially with a spare tire fitted on the back and two tone paint. Alas, they are really too slow to be a good daily driver, and considering that parts can be difficult to obtain, all but the hardiest scooterist would be foolish to ride one daily. These scooters should only be considered for a weekend "show" scooter.
Click here for some more very detailed LD info.
Lambretta model LD Series I and II
Number Produced:78,468 125's; 110,186 150's
Power Output:5 hp @ 4,600 rpm (125), 6 hp @ 4,750 rpm (150)
Lambretta LD Series III '57
Number Produced:42,635 125's - 113,853 150's
Power Output:5 hp @ 4,600 rpm (125); 6 hp @ 4,600 rpm (150)
- Rough but restorable = $600-900
- Drivable, but not show = $1200-2500
- Restored or Excellent Original Conition = $2500-3500
- NOTE: The prices are essentially the same for D and LD models, with a slight price premium on the Model D, due to rarity.