Business: From Scooter to Auto

After World War II, Ferdinando Innocefoti set out to put Italians on two wheels. From his plant near Milan, he began to roll two-passenger Lambretta motor scooters off the line for Italians looking for zippy but cheap (then $240, 100 miles per gallon) transportation. Now the world's No. 2 scooter producer (170,000 a year, behind Italy's Vespa), Ferdinando Innocenti has raised his sights to four wheels. Occasion: a deal to produce a Lambretta version of West Germany's four-passenger, four-wheel Goggomobil.

The deal was an open challenge from Innocenti, a portly, 66-year-old onetime plumber's helper, to Italy's midget-car giant, Fiat. It was Innocenti's...

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