Certain vehicles made and sold in India have had interesting beginnings, like having their origins elsewhere, for example, Italy… ?
While it’s not really the case with motorcycles, but we can certainly credit the Italians for establishing a solid scooter market in India just a few years after the World War 2 came to an end. Seemingly, Vespa and Lambretta have played a huge role in forming the two-wheeler market in our country and leading to the likes of the Chetak and Vijay Super.
This time, we are going to talk about the latter.
Lambretta was founded in 1947 as an aftermath of the World War 2. Given the circumstances and what not, company founder Ferdinando Innocenti realized and saw the need of cheap personal transportation vehicles and hence Lambretta was born. Mythically, Lambretta is the name of a water-sprite or water-fairy in the river which ran adjacent to the earlier production factory.
However, this is how Lambretta scooters came into being and it didn’t take too long for the company to enter India. In the 1950s, the Automobile Products of India (API) started manufacturing Lambretta scooters in the country. In around 20 years time, though, 1972 to be precise, Lambretta name was brought to an end by the Scooters India Limited (SIL) which brought the whole factory division along with the staff to produce ‘Vijay’ range of scooters. This led to the ever popular ‘Vijay Super’. It is, in essence, a Lambretta.
Although an Indian scooter, Vijay Super design language had Lambretta written all over it. With a streamlined front fender, side body and the back (which also holds a spare tyre), the Vijay Super looked smooth and uncluttered. The front suspension was double-sided compared to Vespa’s single-sided arrangement, but it still appeared quite vulnerable.
One of the recognizable traits of Vijay Super was the rectangular headlight. This combined with the overall design gave the scooter its own identity as it competed with the Bajaj Chetak.
Vijay Super came with a Lambretta powered 2-stroke, a 150cc single cylinder engine which produced around 8.7 BHP of power at 6,300 RPM and catapulted it to a top speed of near about 104 km/h. The scooter’s low weight of 120 kg also helped in performance. People who owned or still own this scooter swear by its performance. Mr. Baljeet Singh Kochhar, who was kind enough to let us ride his exceptionally maintained Vijay Super in bright yellow colour, is still proud of how the scooter goes on the road.
If you still fancy this scooter then you’ll have to dig up the second-hand market or better yet, go to OLX where it is likely you will find one.
This was a very different scooter than what we have today. It is like an ancestor to today’s scooters that are much smoother and appear sophisticated. For example, compare the long flat seat of a Honda Activa with the springy rider seat on the Vijay Super. Then there’s the whole build quality and fit n finish. While Vijay Super, with its Italian roots, can still hold its own, it doesn’t quite match the overall prowess of the current generation of scooters.
This isn’t a comparison, rather, just a highlight of how different scooters are today. One thing that hasn’t change, they still remain one of the primary modes of transport and commute within city limits.