Lambretta: From Italy to Southern California, a look at the 'Ferrari of the scooter world'

Lambretta is the brand name of motor scooters, initially manufactured in Milan, Italy. It has a significant following in Southern California, where die-hard enthusiasts gather almost every weekend in large groups to cruise down local streets.

While most people are likely familiar with Vespa scooters, their design was simple, akin to a Volkswagen Bug, resulting in millions of units sold. Lambrettas, on the other hand, are often described as the "Ferraris" of the scooter world. They are a more robust alternative to Vespas, offering superior steering, a sportier feel, increased power, and a slightly higher price point.

Harmik "Max" Nazarian, the owner of Planet Lambretta, has turned his retirement into a full-time passion. Nazarian's introduction to Lambrettas occurred in 2000 during a trip to Vietnam with his Vietnamese wife. Intrigued by the unfamiliar scooters on the streets, he embarked on a quest to identify them. Back in the United States, Nazarian delved into researching the various Lambretta models, including Series one, Series two, and L.D. models. This newfound fascination led him to a career change.

As a retired Boeing spacecraft engineer with nearly three decades of experience designing satellite antennas, Max brought his engineering skills to the world of Lambretta, aiming to enhance their reliability. Refurbishing a Lambretta scooter typically takes six months to a year due to the need to source parts from Italy.

Nazarian emphasized that the Lambretta's unique design and shape set it apart. He described it as top-notch, comparing it to the utilitarian design of Vespas, which sold millions due to their simplicity. In contrast, Lambrettas were more like the Ferraris of the scooter world, designed for speed and refinement.

After World War II, Lambretta began producing scooters in 1947 but ceased production in 1971, making these scooters rare finds. Many Lambrettas are discovered abandoned in barns or garages, having been untouched for decades. Restoration work is intricate, involving disassembling and reassembling every part of the scooter.

Over the years, Nazarian has breathed new life into hundreds of Lambretta models, even creating an electric version. He believes his shop is the only one in the United States offering such conversions.

Lambretta boasts a dedicated following, with diehard enthusiasts gathering for rides every weekend. Behind each scooter lies a captivating story.

Nazarian's passion for his work shines through, and he claims to never have a bad day. In retirement, he found fulfillment by pursuing what he loves. He cherishes every moment spent working on Lambrettas, as it is a labor of passion for him.

Nazarian has visitors from all over the world. To visit Planet Lambretta just make an appointment. You can do so on their website.