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MAN AND MACHINE

Brothers in Lambretta

PRINCE FEDERICK

The Lambretta LI 150 is easy to repair, but keeping one in great condition for 47 years is no small achievement – two brothers have managed it



SYMBOL OF UNITY This 1961 Lambretta LI 150 represents Babu’s determination to stick to the joint family system

An admirer of the Indian joint family, I enjoyed a morning spent with one at Bazullah Road. With the youngest aged nine and the oldest 82, the diversity of this group can well be imagined! The eleven-member family lives in a 3,800 sq.ft. house with a single kitchen; there are few rumblings of discontent as the members know to share space without intruding on that of others.

Of course, possessing six television sets, they don’t need to fight for the remote. And yes, they own nine cars. Which is all right if all of them don’t pull into the driveway at the same time. All of them shower affection on Bikky the Golden Retriever and Tutu the African Grey, but the 1961 Lambretta LI 150 is a special object of attention for the heads of the two nuclear families, brothers T. Babu and T. Venkatesh.

Elder brother Babu owns this 150cc Lambretta, but stopped using it in 1995 due to an eye problem. From then on, the scooter has had two masters. Venkatesh takes this old machine out to give it some exercise, while Babu takes responsibility for its overall health. The younger brother also chips in, spending for its repairs now and then.

Unlike the Lambretta ‘LD’ models from the early 1950s, the ‘LI’ models are easy to maintain. Most mechanics of today find the shaft drive mechanism (with bevel gears) of the ‘LD’ quite a handful. The Lambretta ‘LI’ 150, which Automobile Products of India (API) began to manufacture from the early 1960s through a licence acquired from Innocenti, is based on a chain drive mechanism. With some changes, the Lambretta ‘LI’ 150 was later sold as Lamby 150.

A mechanical engineer running a company engaged in the manufacture of engine parts for aeroplanes and rockets, Babu likes to mend machines. A passion that is reflected in the hours spent with his ‘LI’ when it is not keeping too well.

Over the years, this scooter has lost a few of its original parts. The speedometer has been replaced by a YenKay. Babu remembers a gear speed chart that it carried for a long time. The other thing that has fallen off its body is the Lambretta badge.

But this ‘LI’ still keeps one thing since 1961– a connection with this loving joint family.

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