As implied by its name, this amphibious vehicle is based on a Lambretta scooter, and the first example was developed by Lambretta Concessionaires in the mid-1960s in the UK. This was a time when scooters from Lambretta, Vespa, or other manufacturers were pretty popular as budget-friendly mobility solutions.
The Lambretta Amphi-Scooter was conceived by the company's communications director Phillip Keeler, while the actual technical work was carried out by Rex White, head of Lambretta development at Concessionaires. It was a rare contraption at the time, with fiberglass floats similar to surfboards attached at either side of a 1964 Lambretta J125 scooter by means of a hinged mechanism to allow it to seamlessly navigate both roads and waterways. Said floats were filled with foam to provide buoyancy and keep the scooter and two passengers above water. They could be folded up when not in use and folded down when going on the water.
Because there were some concerns regarding the contraption's ability to not sink immediately, a secret test session was carried out in Portsmouth. Luckily, it was a success, and the amphibious vehicle was then presented to the world at the 1965 Brighton Motor Cycle and Cycle Show, where it caused quite a stir. Subsequently, demonstrations of how the invention worked appeared in period newsreels, newspapers, and magazines, and the Amphi-Scooter was used in numerous promotional films.
It's not known if the original Amphi-Scooter built by Lambretta Concessionaires was meant from the get-go as a one-off for the Brighton show or if the UK-based company ever intended to go from prototype to production. And sadly, we will never know, as the amphibious two-wheeler met its untimely demise at Mallory Park and was never recovered from the bottom of the lake.
Frontalini, who owns and runs the Cingoli-based International Sidecar Museum, gathered all the historical documentation he could find for this replica, which is 100% functional and an exact copy of the original, right down to the model, year, and color of the Lambretta scooter. He even included the 52 DOY number plate at the back.
This is not the first unusual project Frontalini and his Italian team took on, as they are well known for quirky motorcycle and scooter-based projects, including a giant Vespa Faro Basso. He has also written numerous books on historical side cars and is recognized as an authority on the subject.
From the design phase to completion, the project took approximately 700 hours of work, and costs raised up to more than €20,000 (which translates to over $22,054 in 2023 money). The replica was then tested in the waters of Lake Cingoli in Italy.
At the moment, the Lambretta Amphi-Scooter replica is on display at the International Sidecar Museum in Cingoli, but the builder decided to part ways with it. The unusual vehicle - the only amphi-scooter known to exist - is said to be in excellent and functioning condition and is up for grabs at an ongoing live online auction that ends on May 10.