Although amphibious vehicles, capable of moving on land and by water, have never been a common means of transport for daily life, the truth is that they have always attracted attention due to their versatility. And this is also the case with the proposal featured in this article, which is nothing less than an eccentric scooter capable of riding on the road and navigating.
It is the only vehicle of its style in the world and is called the Lambretta Amphi-Scooter. As its name suggests, this amphibious alternative is based on a Lambretta scooter, with the first example being developed by Lambretta Concessionaires in the mid-1960s in the UK. It should be remembered that, in those years, Lambretta or Vespa scooters, among other brands, were very popular as affordable mobility solutions.
The curious amphibious contraption had fiberglass side floats shaped similar to surfboards attached to both sides of a 1964 Lambretta J125. The joint was made by means of a hinge mechanism and, thanks to this system, it could move smoothly on both dry land and waterways.
The mentioned floats were filled with a special foam to provide buoyancy and keep both the scooter and two passengers on the surface of the water. The hinge system allowed the side floats to be folded when not in use and unfolded when necessary to start sailing.
The J125 scooter had a monocoque chassis designed to be waterproof from all sides, an obviously essential quality for a vehicle of this type. For propulsion in the water, a kind of rotary vane was installed at the rear, while a small rudder attached to the side of the front wheel served to control direction.
Since there were, at first, some doubts regarding the ability of the vehicle to not sink, numerous preliminary tests were carried out. After that, the amphibious scooter was presented to the world at the 1965 Brighton Motorcycle and Cycle Show, where it generated significant excitement among attendees.
Despite this, it never got beyond its prototype stage and did not reach production. In fact, during a navigation, she ended up sinking into a lake and never recovered from the bottom. Curiously, today there is a replica, which is the one you can see in the photographs and which was built in 2015, half a century after the original was presented.
The architect was the Italian Costantino Frontalini, director of the Sidecar Museum (located in the transalpine town of Cingoli). Frontalini gathered all the historical documentation he could find and built this replica, which is fully functional, capable of being driven on dry land and navigating rivers or lakes, like its predecessor. If you're interested in seeing the original Lambretta Amphi-Scooter plying the River Thames in London during the 1960s, just take a look at the accompanying video.