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Innocenti


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(established 1926)

The origins of this Italian automobile and motor scooter company lay in a steel tubing business set up in 1926 by Ferdinando Innocenti. In 1933 the company expanded and moved to the Lambretta area of Milan, entering also into the manufacture of automotive parts. With the anticipated outbreak of war further expansion took place and a new factory was built. However, bombing destroyed it, preventing the company from getting back into production until 1946. Ferdinando realized that the public were eager for access to cheap transportation and saw the production of a scooter as a solution. Launched in 1947 the Lambretta motor scooter, designed by Cesare Pallavicino and Pierluigi Torre, was the result. By comparison with the Piaggio Company's Vespa scooter, designed by Corradino D'Ascanio and put on the market in the previous year, the Lambretta was rather less refined in design terms: it was defined by a rather basic functional appearance rather than the more aerodynamically rounded or streamlined body forms of its Vespa counterpart. Nonetheless, Lambretta styling soon gained its own sense of panache, becoming a desirable symbol of independence and mass mobility. However, with improvements in the Italian standard of living, accompanied by higher levels of disposable income, many Italian consumers turned to cars such as the small, economic Fiat Nuovo 500 of 1957 designed by Dante Giocosa, as a more desirable alternative. By the early 1960s scooters had become closely associated with youth culture. By this time Innocenti had moved into automobile production, launching the A40 (Austin A40, built under licence) at the Turin Motor Show of 1960 along with the 950 Spider, a restyled Austin‐Healey Sprite. Modifications of other British Motor Corporation (BMC) cars followed, also built under licence. However, British Leyland (a later reorganization of the BMC) bought out the Innocenti automobile production lines in 1972, putting into production a new Bertone‐designed version of the Mini in 1974. In the following year, due to the economic problems faced by British Leyland, Innocenti was taken over by the Italian government.

After graduating in engineering in 1947 Ferdinando's son Luigi joined the company.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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