Scotland is the home of golf, whisky and Glasgow Lambretta. We sent Stan to see what’s on offer at one of the UK’s more northerly scooter workshops.
From the outside Glasgow Lambretta is a rather anonymous building situated in the city’s Maryhill district but inside it’s an absolute treasure trove. The name is also misleading as the workshop carries out a full range of parts for all models of Lambretta, but also Vespa and LML Scooter too. It’s a story which, like so many others, starts with the humble Vespa 50. “We were all Mods at school,” said founder David MacKenzie. “Around 1982 I bought a 50 Special, caught the scootering bug and never looked back.” Glasgow Lambretta is the results of David’s lifelong passion, one shared with the other members of the team, John and Alastair. Founded over 20 years ago the brand has grown from humble origins to become one fo the largest dealerships in Scotland. An authorised stockist of many leading brands including both SIP and and AF Rayspeed, Glasgow Lambretta also specialises in supplying a wide range of tyres fitted to tubless rims.
In addition to being stockists for the major scootering brands, Glasgow Lambretta also carries a wide range of unique products. “We want to bring quality at an affordable price,” said David. “Wherever possible we use British companies, for example, out stainless steel Lambretta fork link pivot bolt sets are all machined in the UK but some items have to be produced overseas to remain competitive.” By working directly with manufacturers Glasgow Lambretta can ensure quality is monitored and by avoiding wholesalers can pass those savings on to customers.
The firm’s exclusive range includes ‘chrome finish’ Ulma style racks, a range which David and the team have based on an original piece, updating the design to fit a wide range of scooters. In addition to period Lambrettas and Vespas the result also fits modern Vespas and the often overlooked LML 4t machines.
At the time of our visit David was proudly showing off the latest arrivals, a range of reproduction Giuliari dual seats produced in black and red. Even on close inspection the quality of manufacture and materials is obvious as they stand close comparison to an original item. At £82 including seat post, fastenings and postage they’re exceptional value and demonstrate David’s determination to offer value for money.
The team were so proud of their mail order service that I set up a ‘mystery shopper’ test and, exactly as promised, the correct order arrived within 548 hours well packed and exactly as described. Glasgow Lambretta has a large internet presence with the website listing a wide range of items while a selection of more popular lines can be found in their eBay shop.
More than an internet catalogue
Extensive as the Glasgow Lambretta product range is, it is more than just a retail outlet for spares. Routine servicing is offered across all types of scooter and the company holds the AJS Modena franchise – so modern autos are catered for alongside classic geared machines. The current home of Glasgow Lambretta is an old industrial unit, complete with a car lift in the workshop – an out of place reminder of previous occupants.
The building is a maze of twisting stairs and hidden storage that’s easily navigated by the team but quite easy for a stranger to get lost in. It’s certainly not a soulless warehouse but it’s obvious that everyone knows exactly where to find even the smallest item. Well known in the area for decades, David’s been lucky to buy up stock from closed dealerships and as a result holds a good selection of New Old Stock parts. “Cataloguing NOS is a nightmare as often the cost of listing items is more than they’re worth” he says. “If a customer asks for something and it’s in stock we’ll sell it but I prefer to keep most original items for use in our restorations.” An unsung hero of the restoration scene, Glasgow Lambretta has a history of producing stunning, and trophy winning machines, a process aided by the large amount of original reference materials held in stock.
Throughout the visit the one thing that was obvious is the sheer passion for scooters displayed by every member of the team. With a wealth of expertise and a wide range of parts in stock, it’s worth looking north of the border for your scootering needs.
PUT A CORK IN IT
Unless a machine’s been owned from new its history is always uncertain and chances are that the various ‘home mechanics’ involved haven’t always been the most careful. Often that oil leak on the garage floor is the result of damaged gasket faces on the engine case. This is particularly true for Lambrettas where the chain cover is particularly prone to abuse. “A while ago I spoke to some classic bike mechanics and they couldn’t believe we were still using paper gaskets” explained David. “They’ve been using cork for years as it offers many advantages on the types of engine we work with. I’ve invested in the tooling and our gaskets are made in the UK to our own specifications.”
The cork gaskets, which are made in the UK using special compound, will seal almost any imperfection but unlike liquid gasket solutions can be used up to 10 times. This is a great advantage for roadside repairs but also for racers, with whom the product has found particular favour. “For road use we offer the gaskets in thicknesses of 1mm and 1.5mm,” explained David.
“The 1mm gasket will seal most problems but the 1.5 offers a little more depth for badly scored faces. Our 2mm gaskets are sold mostly to racers as they are more durable but on road-going scooters they can cause the kick start to disengage due to the changed dimensions.” The Lambretta chain case gasket is the firm’s best seller but sets are available for the Vespa P range, Sport, GL and Super. The chain case gaskets are priced at £7.95, offering a cost effective solution for long-suffering engines.
Words & photographs: StanEnjoy more Scootering reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.