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Pete’s Project: 1973 Serveta Jet 200

Jet Setter

When our Assistant Editor decided to buy his first scooter, he didn’t take the easiest route and choose something new. That would have been way too sensible

Words & photography by PETE CALLAGHAN

Oh ... it’s a scooter."

"Yeah. Cool, eh?"

"Well ... yeah. But it's a scooter..."

That's just one example of the many and varied responses I've received from friends and family when I drag them into the garage to see my newly acquired Serveta Lambretta Jet 200.

To be fair, just about everyone’s been suitably supportive, although that support’s usually expressed with the polite, patient manner of people who suspect they’re dealing with a nutcase. I can’t really blame them for being surprised. After all, I’m a long-time motorcyclist and my last project was a Honda CBR600 race bike, so the sight of a dusty old scooter parked up on the workstand is something I’m still getting used to myself.

I first heard about the Lammie from a mate, Kevin, who’d had it sitting in his backyard for some time. Kev’s an inveterate tinkerer and had planned to get the scooter back on the road. The idea of owning an old Lambretta appealed, so without even laying eyes on it, I told him I wanted first option it if he ever decided to sell.

Several months later I saw the scoot for the first time. At this point I discovered it was actually a Spanish-built Serveta Jet 200 – a copy of the Italian Innocenti SX200 built under licence. Kev wasn’t sure of its age, but said it had been recently resprayed by another friend and that it had been running “not so long ago.” I came over all silly, and reiterated my previous offer.

More months went by until, just before Christmas 2005, Kev rang to say the Lammie was for sale. We agreed on a price of $1500 and I drove up with my trailer the following weekend to bring it home.

The adventure begins

I've never been a Mod (although I don't mind some of the music), I've never owned a scooter before now, and I've never known much about Lambrettas, so I can't really explain why I bought this one other than to say it's one of the coolest looking machines I’ve ever seen. Even covered in dust and cobwebs, the Jet 200's classic lines are unmistakable.

The original plan was to give the Jet a rebuild and renovation – not restoration to concours standard, but a comprehensive tidy-up that would enable the scooter to be used as an occasional daily ride. After spending many hours on the Internet, I’ve managed to nail down some more details on my machine: it seems the Serveta was built sometime in 1973 or possibly early 1974, which makes it something of a rarity, in Australia at least.

There’s plenty of work ahead, though. One of the first things I did after I got the Jet home was to give it a good tub. It came up rather well, mainly thanks to the relatively fresh yellow paintwork, but when I took the side panels off to check out the engine, the full horror was revealed. Thirty years of dirt and grime, a bit of rust and a shitload of hairy spiders had taken up residence under those panels and while it took an hour or so with a can of Mortein and a brush to evict the eight-legged squatters, cleaning out the rest of the muck is still a work in progress.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Jet is not completely intact. A big black plastic box full of bits came with the scooter, but I’m compiling a growing list of parts that aren’t there, or that are so badly rusted or worn out that they need replacing.

So the plan has had to be revised. The aim now is to simply get the Jet running and repaired to a roadworthy condition, then register it and use it when I can. Once it is back on the road, I’ll commence a bit-bybit renovation, replacing old for new where appropriate and generally tarting the thing up.

No spark

So far the Jet is still a lifeless lump on the workstand, but we are making progress. I’ve cleaned out the original Dell’Orto carburettor and the fuel tank, tidied up the exhaust and started re-assembling the headset gear and throttle controls using parts I’ve recovered from the big black box.

My biggest problem concerns the Jet’s electrics. The scoot runs a 6V DC electrical system, with indicators and a battery, and although I have most of the major components such as the Motoplat coil and rectifier, the wiring is a complete mess. I suspect that the wiring was literally snipped and ripped out when the scooter was resprayed, and piecing it back together is like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle without the help of the picture on the box.

I’ve been using one of the wiring diagrams in twowheels Scooter contributor Martin Round’s excellent Spanner’s Complete Workshop Manual for Lambretta Slimstyle Scooters (which has loads of info about the Spanish Lammies) as a guide, but even that is of limited use because of the damage to my Jet’s wiring and the fact that the Spaniards were notorious for changing wiring colours and layout at the drop of a hat during production.

At the moment, I’ve got a few options: persevere with the original wiring and try to get it working; re-make the entire wiring system myself; buy an aftermarket wiring loom and modify it to fit; call in an auto electrician and pay to sort it out; or go to the expense of converting the electrics to a 12V set-up with electronic ignition. There’s a bunch of 12V kits available from overseas, which give the benefit of more reliable running and stronger lighting, but the cost will probably amount to a few hundred dollars all told and I’m not sure I want to spend that much cash just yet.

Cult members

The cult status of Lambrettas means there’s a wealth of information available via the Internet. In the UK, where Lammies have always been popular, and in the USA, there are also plenty of shops that sell a wide range of spare parts and accessories. Vietnam and India are also little hotbeds of industry for various bits and pieces.

As mentioned above, I’ve spent loads of time on the ’Net searching for information about the Serveta and tracking down the best sources for the parts I need. It’s a slow process, especially when trying to determine which parts will work with my model as well as juggling freight costs and the conversion of prices in British pounds and US dollars to Aussie moolah.

As I write this, I’m putting together parts orders from two different firms in the UK, so I’ll let you know later how it all pans out. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a short list of some better and more useful Internet sites I’ve stumbled across so far.

And that’s about it for now. With any luck, by the next issue I’ll have the Jet running at least. If not, it’s probably because I’m still trapped under a multi-coloured mountain of Spanish electrical spaghetti...

Any ideas? peter@twowheels.com.au

Site seeing

Punch the word ‘Lambretta’ into Google and you’ll get pages of websites to visit. Type in ‘Serveta’ or ‘Jet 200’ and the return will be smaller, but there’s still plenty out there. Here are some of my picks:

Lambretta Club of Great Britain www.lcgb.co.uk
Italy may be the spiritual home of the Lambretta, but the UK is where it’s at. This club site has plenty to offer, from Lambretta history to specific model information to workshop tips.

West Coast Lambretta Works www.lambretta.net
This San Diego-based outfit offers online shopping for parts and accessories, with a specific section for Servetas, plus some good technical information and other tidbits.

Totally Scooters www.totallyscooters.com
A mail order site run out of the UK. It specialises in Serveta parts along with Italian Lambretta bits. Owner Jennifer Lewis is very helpful when it comes to answering questions.

MB Developments www.mbdevelopments.co.uk
Probably the UK’s foremost Lambretta workshop, MB Developments carries an enormous range of parts, including stainless steel goodies. The website has recently been updated with an online shopping service, and it has heaps of technical data.

Scooterhelp www.scooterhelp.com
This site is a treasure trove of information on classic Lambrettas and Vespas, including Servetas. I’ve downloaded PDF copies of an original Serveta owner’s manual and spare parts list from here, and there’s loads more besides.

As published in TW SCOOTER MAGAZINE - 21/03/2006
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