|A lot of young men probably bought Lamberts as much because of the gorgeous girl in the short shorts and knee-high boots as for the bicycles' high-tech (for their time) features.|
Of course, in some ways the bikes were too good to be true. The cotterless cranks didn't fit well on the non-tapered bottom bracket spindles and would work loose. The handlebars would loosen in the stem. The early derailleurs didn't work so well. And worst of all, the cast aluminum forks gained a reputation for breaking unexpectedly, with predictable consequences. They were apparently made by pinning a cast aluminum fork to a steel steerer, and the joint would just give up at the wrong time. The expression "Lambert Death Fork" thus entered the bicycling vernacular.
A useful article about Lambert/Viscount can be found on Sheldon Brown's site, where one will find the following warning:
"UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A LAMBERT OR VISCOUNT BE RIDDEN WITH THE ORIGINAL CAST ALUMINUM FORK!!!!!!!"
The company went through different names and owners. They were re-named Viscount after being purchased by a group called Trusty in the mid-'70s. Later they were purchased by Yamaha, which changed a lot of the unusual components to standard Japanese issue, such as SunTour and Shimano. Yamaha also recalled every one of the questionable forks (what took so long?). Eventually the company just faded away.
Now, after all these years, it seems like the legacy of the Lambert/Viscount brand is the legendary "death fork" and a really hot-looking girl in knee-high boots.
Be wary of the forks. Enjoy the ad.