Lambretta TV 175 Series I
The TV175 series I was in all respects, a groundbreaking scooter. The TV175 was Innocenti's first top of the line scooter. Piaggio had introduced the Vespa G.S. a few years before, and Innocenti responded with the TV. But while the G.S. was a more sporting scooter, the TV was more than sporty, it was also luxurious. Like the LI, it was a radical departure from the D and LD. The TV and the LI series I shared similar bodywork, but the TV had a completely different and unique motor as well as other fancy detailing to the body.
At first glance, the TV was cosmetically almost identical to the LI range. In fact the LI's body was copied from the TV's design, and the TV made its debut some six months before the LI.
As mentioned above, the introduction of the TV represented a big leap from the LD. The cowls on the TV were very long. They were curvy with tasteful large art-deco style badges on the bottom front of the panels and aerodynamic styled levers at the back. The TV had smaller “TV175” badges on each panel set just below the large “Lambretta” badges. There was also a small vertical air intake slit cut at the front of each cowl. Completing the badges, there was a small Lambretta badge and model designation badge on the legshield. There was also an Innocenti shield in the center of the horncasting below the headlight.
As with the LI, the TV headset was fully enclosed. It was built in two pieces, which could come apart for cable access. The headset housed a speedometer, kill switch, light switch, and fork lock. The speedometer was of a new large round design, and was surrounded by a raised polished bezel. “TV175” was written on the speedometer face and the speedometer was calibrated to read up to 80 mph. The brake and clutch control levers on the early TV had round cable adjusters built in to the levers themselves. This feature was deleted on later TV Series I's.
On the front of the scooter, the frame was similar to that of the LI. The front mudguard was of a totally new design from that of the LD. On the LD and LC, the front mudguard was attached to the forks, and turned with them. On the TV, the mudguard was enlarged, and was attached to the front of the legshields, so it did not turn with the forks. As with the LD, the headlight was attached to the horncasting, and it also did not turn with the forks. The horncasting, naturally, also held the horn, which was hidden behind a grille with vertical slats.
At the rear of the scooter, there were attachment holes for accessories just above the rear taillight. A spare tire bracket, or rear rack could be easily mounted here. On the TV a spare tire and bracket were standard equipment. The spare was adorned with a round metal spare tire cover which had the Innocenti logo stamped in the center. The frame had vertical slats in this area to accommodate the air flow for the “frame breather” air filter just below the spare tire bracket.
Also at the rear of the frame, the taillight was of a new design and it was different than that of the LI, though it was of a similar design. As on late model LD's, the light housing was directly attached to the frame. On the TV, the taillight itself was of a horizontal oval design. The taillight lens was a two-color plastic, with red in the middle, and an amber color on the sides.
On the rest of the frame, it was laid out in a similar manner to the LI. There was a lockable glovebox at the front of the frame, just below the front seat. As with the LI, the fuel tank could be reached through an access door which was located at the top of the frame, below the dual saddle. Unlike the LI, the TV175 came with a long dual saddle seat, which was unique to this model.
One other bit of luxury flash was unique to the TV. The wheel rims were chromed, and then the center of them was painted so that just a strip of chrome showed on the edges of the wheels. This was done on early models, but the wheel rims were simply painted on the later TV Series I's.
The TV 175 Series I came in only one color, ivory. Unlike the LI 150, the TV was not available in any other color, and there was surprisingly no two-tone paint option.
The big story on the TV is not the body, but the motor. The motor on the TV was a totally new design, and it was actually only used on the TV Series I. On a very basic level, it was similar in concept to that on the LI. It was built on a horizontal axis and had a horizontal front-facing cylinder. Additionally, the TV used an enclosed duplex chain drive system as the LI did. The motor on the TV was unique in the complex kickstart mechanism. The mechanism was housed behind a large round chrome cover, and worked with the assistance of a coiled wound metal strip, much like a wristwatch mechanism. This system was not particularly robust, and is especially difficult to reset if the coiled mechanism comes undone.
Other significant differences with the LI include the large 27mm Del'Orto carburetor that was fitted to the TV. This was actually the largest carburetor that was mounted to a Lambretta. Because of the increased power, the gearing was also changed on the TV to allow for a higher top and cruising speed.
As with the LI, the TV175 used 10” wheels. The front forks were improved on the TV, and were different from those used on the LI. The trailing links with internal springs were still used as on the LI, however, the TV added external dampeners. The trailing links included a small bracket for the bottom of the dampeners. At the top of the dampeners, a small bracket was welded to the side of the forks.
Few of these models were produced and even fewer survive today. This was a very expensive scooter when new, and it is one of the most valuable Lambrettas to purchase now… if you can find one. They are very rare in this country, and I have only seen a few in my years of scootering. With that in mind, a TV175 Series I is scooter that is a worthy purchase should you come across one. Nevertheless, I would say that it is not a scooter for the beginner, as many of the parts are unique, and working on the motor can be a challenge – even to the advanced scooter mechanic. Be aware that you are unlikely to get replacement parts to finish an incomplete project scooter if you should happen to come across one. These scooters are best left to serious collectors with deep pockets. Personally, I would never buy one that was not complete and running, since the parts search is likely to be long, hard, and very expensive.
Number Produced: 18,858
Years Produced: 1957-59
Power Output: 8.6 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Rough, but restorable = $2000-5000
- Drivable, but not show = $5000-7000
- Restored or Excellent Original Condition = $7000-10000