Beware buying Indian Lambrettas & Vespas online

vijai_deluxe_leaflet From time to time we receive offers of classic Lambretta and Vespa scooters from suppliers in India, as well as receiving email ‘updates’ from various sources about some ‘nice Lambretta scooters’ on eBay. However, if you are in the market for your first classic scooter you may want to do a little research before parting with your cash to avoid being disappointed. Sometimes, what you get may not quite be what you wanted.

API Lamby 150.  (photo courtesy of <a title="Scooter Restorations" href="http://www.scooterrestorations.com"

API Lamby 150.

(photo courtesy of  Scooter Restorations

We must first of all point out that this is not a crusade against Indian scooters or indeed scooter parts made in India. There are a lot of essential classic scooter parts manufactured in India and like thousands of others around the world, we also use them to keep our steeds on the road.

However, ‘buyer beware’ should be at the forefront of your mind when trawling the pages of eBay in search of a bargain, because they’re not always what they’re cracked up to be!

If amongst the sales pitch you discover phrases like “Yes I actually ordered this colour,” they really mean “I imported it like this from India.”

This is confirmed by statements like; “it is now fitted with a brand new SIL factory built 200cc engine” which can often means, “somebody in downtown Mumbai has some new engine casings which they’ve filled with cheap parts before repainting and selling the shiny scooter to a westerner.”

This is where the problems may lie for some, not only because the quality is of an unknown standard and any warrnty offered unlikely to be worth the email it’s sent via, but a comment like; “This scooter was originally manufactured by Scooters India Ltd and sold in their home market as a 150cc machine” actually translates as, “If you wanted a Lambretta you will probably be disappointed because while this looks like one, in India it was called the Vijai Deluxe and therefore the law states this is what it will say on your logbook today in England.”

The final blow to some people could well be that any scooters manufactured from 1985 onwards must be fitted with direction indicators, and rarely do any foreign restorations feature these, so to add to your list of expenses will be the cost of a new wiring loom, flasher relay, indicator lights and necessary fittings.

Of course it’s not just SIL scooters where the brand name of the vehicle will be different on its logbook to that which you may desire te most.

API manufactured Lambrettas under licence until 1972, and after that their scooters were called things like the Lamby, or Polo. While on the Vespa front the agreement between Bajaj and Piaggio ceased around the same time, thereafter scooters were known as Chetak, Classic and other names. The LML-Piaggio relationship only lasted from 1984 to the late 90s, so again anything after that is technically not a Vespa.

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While there are plenty of us proudly riding around on Indian built scooters, which are also registered as such (some of these are arguably rarer in Europe than their Italian originators), if you’re maybe not 100% certain of exactly what you’re looking for when buying a scooter, our advice is shop local from an established dealer for a UK registered machine.

Good luck, and enjoy the ride!

Bangalore Classic Scooter Club at Independence Day celebrations, August 2011 – G.R.N. Somashekar (hindubusinessline.com)

45 thoughts on “Beware buying Indian Lambrettas & Vespas online

  1. Hello, I recently imported a restored 150gp from Yajat of Tradespareautos. I paid £800 for the restoration and £200 delivery to the UK. Then another £500 to pay import duties, taxes and final delivery of the gp to my home address. Took about 4 months but I had already bought two project scooters from Yajat previously and they arrived within 6 weeks (all depeds how many he is selling/restoring and when he shipps to the harbour etc) My restored lambretta needed just a new quality coil (Ducati) and an MPH speedo, went for its MOT and passed with just the headlight aim needing adjustment. A friend from my scooter club looked my scoot over, and said the paintwork alone is worth £800. The scooter starts second kick and always draws comments. Was I lucky, well I knew it was a gamble and I would say to anyone looking to buy either a restored or project lambretta from India, be realistic, do not assume same standards of conviction as in the UK. Just because the seller says the scooter is running could mean, when it arrived it was under its own power but has not started since. Also only spend what you can afford to loose, I know even £100 might be a lot to some, and if that’s the case don’t buy. I am very pleased with my Indian restoration and believe its value as £2800. And the V5 logbook has it down as a Lambetta from 1977 (so its on an r plate)

    • Hello Mark,
      Thanks for sharing your story.
      It’s always good to hear from both sides and we’re glad you are happy with your scooter.
      See you and your GP at a scooter rally soon!
      Cheers

    • Hi I’m glad to read your positive feed back as ive just bought a Gp 200 from Yajat, spoken to him to confirm receipt of payment, he’s not too good at communicating but I’m looking forward to the delivery

      Regards kevin

      • Did you jmrecieve scooter.he is banned from eBay now.iv listed a warning on eBay today .he is still advertising on Facebook looking to collect as many people who have been ripped off by this individual. Passing all details to police in Delhi as I can get.

        • Hi mine was received last wednesday. Im sure yours will be on the way especially if youve received the shipping document from him. My gp was well packaged and the paint work is immaculate.

          • Hi Im sure your will arrive very soon. I was a bit like you really worried. But if youve got the shipping documents then you should be ok. Ive now got to get it registered havent done that bit yet. Let me know when it arrives. Im sure youll get it really soon. Dornack were pretty good with me as soon as it arrived two day later it was by my door. They even dilivered at 8pm.But like the comments on her he does take time to ship and communication is not really good, which is a shame since the scoot ive received is really nice

    • Yes, you were very very lucky.
      However a 1977 registered scoot should have an “S” plate not an “R”.
      In the 70’s the years ran from Jan to Dec for registeration.
      Might be worth checking that it’s not incorrectly registered.

      FYI, I have the first ever SIL GP imported into the UK, by Arthur Francis.It is registered 1977 and has an “S” plate.
      It came with 6v dc, battery and Indicators.

      On new indian imports, Yajat Kumar will change the age and details of the scooter to what ever you request, then send you one of those “original Indian” registration documents.
      Not only that, but tradesparesautos sell scooters on Ebay with the pictures of one scooter, they will then “build” a different scooter in the same colour and send you that.
      As the article says, back ally engineering.

      All in, you can get a reasonable looking 1960’s scoot including shipping and handling for under 2.5k.
      It’ll need some work but compared to the hundreds of “original Italian” rusty heaps also on fleabay, maybe the Yajat specials aren’t so bad.
      But he is a very dodgy charactor.
      We’ve chatted many time and he’d rebadge his grandmother and sell her as a Lambretta if the price was right!

      • Colin, UK registration dating system changed in 1967. Previously it ran from January to December, then it began running from August to take into account the summer holidays. Therefore a scooter registered until July 1977 would have been given an ‘R’ plate, then from August 1977 a ‘S’ plate.
        As for Indian imports, personally unless you know exactly what you are buying you are probably better off shopping around in the UK – there are plenty of bargains here with a seller you can reach if anything goes wrong.
        PS is your original SIL GP toilet blue? ;-)

      • Hi
        my 90 day period has passed since paying for a 65 LI2 series .. is this the number ‭00 91 8727-805999‬ I need to call yajat on please ?

        Still no docs or replies to my 5 emails a week ?

        Thanks for your help

    • Hi recently bought a gp from yajat but not received payment was made on the 10th October it is now the 12 January. Have all the paperwork Its been now a full three months so longer than the 95 days dilivery he states on ebay. Cant wait to see it. Ive never bought from india before so a little concerned does anyone know how i know if its arrived will the shipping agents phone me up. It states dornack on the document. Any advice would be aprreciated regards gareth

      • It is actually only 94 days since the 10 October 2017, but if you are that concerned then we suggest you contact the seller and ask for more details, only they will know what is going on. And don’t forget that Christmas and New Year will delay things.
        In the worst case if you paid by credit card then contact your card company for a refund and then spend that on a scooter already in the UK that you can check out before you buy.

        • Hi everyone I also bought gp in october17 still waiting iv spoke to yayat assured me it is on Maria Serveria arriving in southampton 25 Feb.rang David Glover he has no details yet but is ringing me monday 29 Feb.has anyone else heard anything as there is 15 waiting for scooters to arrive.

          • Hi Ive heard from David on mine and Im expecting it any day. Ive also paid the import duties etc and dilivery in total over £800 to Dornack . More than what i originally thought. However its done now.

            Looking forward now for its arrival mine is also on the Maria Serveria. Let me know when yourS arrives mine should be long after just in time for the warm uk weather lol Thanks

      • Hi yes they will. contact you if you want to contact dornack ask for David glover that’s who I am dealing with I also purchased a Gp off yajat in September still waiting

        • hi
          Thanks for your comment. I know it takes time but thought it would be here by now. You should get yours before me if you paid in September. Let me know when it arrives. Is it Dornack thats dilivering yours? because they havent given me a quote yet and i dont want to pay over the odds

          • Hi has anyone who bought scooter from madann motors yayat in October November 2017 received it yet.i got horrible feeling iv been ripped off.spoke to eBay and PayPal not covered due to been to long and PayPal don’t cover vehicle’s.

          • hi mine came last week i think it was wednesday. Was dilivered throught Dornack. All in good condition and well packaged. Thanks Gareth

          • Hi has anyone who bought scooter from madann motors yayat in October November 2017 received it yet.i got horrible feeling iv been ripped off.spoke to eBay and PayPal not covered due to been to long and PayPal don’t cover vehicle’s.

      • If you check the bill of Laden yajat should have sent you, if he didn’t then ask for it.
        it will have the container ship name on it which you can track online, they normally ship to felixstowe or Southampton.

        I ordered a Lambretta New Year’s Day it’s just landed in Felixstowe. There is also on the bill of Laden the logistics company in the uk, you can contact them for advice very helpful

        Still waiting for scoot docs / paperwork all things crossed this will be sorted soonest

        Hope this helps

      • Hi bud did you receive scooter.iv reported him through eBay and PayPal but not covered because of length of time through eBay and PayPal doesn’t cover vehicle’s.

        • Rephrase my original statement, my scooter wasn’t on that shipment, I spoke to David at Dornack, he did say yajaat doesn’t this to get a space on the ship but doesn’t always fill it.. David also informed me that Dornack normally get 10 days notice of ship landing, he did say average 100 days plus from order to delivery in the uk.

          I still haven’t had my documents I ordered my LI 2 series’s New Year’s Day.. have also sent over 30 emails this last 2 weeks to yajaat nil response.

          100 days is up 10th April so will see… all things crossed

        • Hi have you received your scooter yet I bought one on the 16 November I got the paperwork as described but no sign of the bike I rang them last week and Yatat said I would get it mid May
          I like you think I might have been ripped off

    • How did you get it down as a lambretta on the logbook as I be just got one a gp200 but import says vijay super but Indian documents Indian equivalent dvla document ‘form 23’ states it’s a lambretta gp200

      • SIL home market scooters were badged as Vijay from sometime in the 1980s onwards rather than Lambretta, so DVLA here has treated all SIL scooters imported from India after that time as a Vijay rather than a Lambretta.
        It’a bit like importing a Opel Astra car from Germany to the UK. It doesn’t become Vauxhall Opel simply because it’s being driven in England. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make any difference to how it looks or rides ;-)

  2. hi i imported a gp 150 from india they said i could choose port of delivery so i chose felixstowe as i worked near,it turned up in southampton ,extra cost of delivery,then the shipping people this side demanded £800 i said keep the scooter as i paid £500 for it all in,oh sorry made a mistake thats £300 plus delivery, so i accepted this,scooter delivered in crate all ok running not to much rust panels good,it was this side that tried to bend me over??

  3. Excellent advice here. We bought 4 for a shop for £4500 restored from India, ‘new’ ‘SIL’ engines etc. 1 was lipstick metallic pink and wifey grabbed that. It had oval hubs so not mot able, the clutch slipped and the gears jumped. Lot of fuss to register. All four ran and started really well and had smooth powerful engines, some quality parts, excellent lights and the other 3 ran fine with no comeback although finish could have been a bit better. Bottom line is you won’t know what you’re getting from India but if it’s cheap and finished well you might get something on the road for well under 2 grand which is a real Lambretta. If you’re riding it and it’s a normal colour and can do a bit yourself it’s worth the gamble. If not – it’s a gamble, However looking at some of the speculators setting stupid prices on eBay and some Italian ‘resto’ projects hitting more that when what they mean is a complete new scooter will have to be built around a frame which might require work means you probably have paid 2-3 k on a bare frame and will be spending a lot more on parts which you have to put together yourself. Take your pick. Good Indian resto with a rebuild from a reputable uk dealer is probably the best way to get on the road for a reasonable price.

  4. my brother and i restored and repaired scooters as a buisness and to be fair on the indian varieties they at least tried to improve on the italian weak points, ( stronger GP frames and extra ribbing on the engine mount castings ) and if your restoring a rusty wreck is there really any difference between an italian wreck or an indian wreck ( other than a couple of thousand quid in the bying price ) in my opinion if your going to restore it properly i dont think it matters where it was built, at the end of the day its what you make it.

    • good to hear Mick. Indian scooters are pretty good to be fair, even the later ones that were built with less it seems.
      In general though, it’s not where the scooter was originally manufactured that is the problem, but who has rebuilt/ restored it. And if it was resotred badly abroad then it’s a lot harder to get your money back than from a local shop.

  5. Hi,
    I am trying to import my dad’s Vijai Super from India, which was lying in the house gathering rust. I am getting it restored with new paint and in working condition. New to the technical bits but as long at is working, will be acceptable for me to get it imported.
    I need help from those who have imported such a scooter. Can you let me know which company to contact to get it picked up from my home in India and delivered to my house in UK.
    What kind of price am I looking at . Also once I receive it here, do I have to get it registered with HMRC as well as it is only for scooters imported from the EU.
    If someone can help me with the detail steps and link to where I can get that particular step will be highly appreciated.

    • To the best of our knowledge you will be charged a greater amount of import duty on a fully built, valuable classic scooter rather than a box of spare parts. If the scooter is dismantled it will probably be easier to ship it over as well, and cheaper. However you will need to have Indian paperwork to aid registration and still have to pay some duties here. If you have any family or friends in India with experience of exporting to Europe that would be a good place to get some quotes.

    • If tis in original paint, better leave it as is and only get the mechanicals sorted out rather than restore the whole thing!

      Patinated scooters are incidentally very popular in the UK!

  6. Hi, i ordered one from India, but this is my first time.

    I would like help on how to get the scooter registered in the UK to use as the scooter is coming in working condition from India.

    • We suggest you join either the Lambretta Club of Great Britain (LCGB) http://www.ilambretta.co.uk or Vespa Club of Britain (VCB) http://www.vespaclubofbritain.co.uk as both owners’ clubs offer their members advice and assistance registering such a scooter.
      Do make sure that the scooter you are buying comes with all necessary paperwork from India (vehicle logbook, exportation certificate, receipt, tax paid) and you will also need paperwork to prove you’ve paid import duties, VAT, shipping costs too, as well as completing a NOVA from DVLA.

  7. I originally started this post. I have imported from Yajat at Tradesparesauto (and his other ventures: MS Tours of India plus SKMoto, saddly all no longer trading on Ebay, shame) I imported 4 Lambretta restorations, ranging in price from £500 to £700 (varying quality from running engines to super original bodywork, no horror stories) Plus 4 restorations, 3 GP 150’s at £800 each plus a 200 at £1500 (the 150s were way better) Plus, and i must have got this just before Yajat left Ebay, a 1966 Vespa VBB 150 restoration project for …£400 arrived within 6 weeks and, once out of the wooden crate, first kick, started and I was driving it down the road with a very smooth gear change, tho those 8 inch wheels!!!! Every scooter cost at least £500 (inc tail drop to home address) usually Dornack plus several hundred££ to HMRC (The last two scooters I received several hundred £s back as the data value was inputted incorrectly and I ended up paying too much, whose fault hmmmm? Always check as you shoudn’t pay duty of more than 8%) Getting the NOVA was easy, and getting the scooters registered was incredibly simple, dont be put off by those who say its hard (have they ever tried?) I have registered 6 scooters with the DVLA now, all came back as LAMBRETTA, so no issue there, those I sold were as Indian machines, plus as we all know anything after 71 is not Italian. Plus I have to say, price wise and build wise I much prefer Indian to Italian, my LML 200 4t is the BEST scooter I have ever owned, reliable, loads of torque and looks good (better than any of my P2s for build quality, as the steel is much thicker and withstands bad weather too) The indian lambrettas either original unrestored have character (how many family members were carried on it at any one time) Ive taken them apart to reveal a wasp nests in the horn cover, a tool box stuffed with someones clothes and a half drunk Indian Coca Cola bottle under the seat, love it!!! And must mention that Yajat shipped the scooters very well in what must be the most creative wooden packaging, gawd knows where they got the wood from, it looks prehistoric, but the scooters have all arrived safe and sound, including he one that was tail drop delivered to me on its SIDE!!!!!!Obviuosly the this way up and arrows meant nothing to the fork lift drivers or whoever was to blame. Back to the wooden packaging, a lot of it is now my garden fence, so a little bit of India is in Gloucestershire. So before you panic, slag off, or sneer at Indian scooters, restos or restores, are good value just dont put our western assumptions of good communication, timely delivery or simialar into the equation. Just relax, do your home work , get advice from people who have actually bought from India, then weigh up the financial sense, is it a good deal, can you afford it etc etc. And remember the biggest bill you will probably get is when the scooter arrives in England. Safe riding to all. PS Ive been meaning to contact either ScooterNova or Scootering to see if they want an article written clearly about importing from India, d’ya think it would be a good idea??

    • I did write an article a few years ago about importing a scooter from India, based on personal experience. Hopefully, while the scooter that arrived for me was not working and dangerous, the article helped others considering a similar long distance purchase to make their mind up with knowing what questions to ask and what to look out for.

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