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2011/54/1 Vespa P200E motor scooter, with toolkit, helmet and insurance papers, mod subculture, plastic / metal / synthetic fabric / paper, made by Piaggio, Genoa, Italy 1981, used by Terry Mooney, Australia, c.1982. Click to enlarge.

Vespa motor scooter and helmet

Made
Terry Mooney was part of the Sydney mod revival scene during the mid 1980s and purchased his Vespa P200E motor scooter in 1982. Scooters played an essential role within the Mod subculture as both a relatively cheap and convenient mode of transport and more importantly as a status symbol or fashion accessory. It was important to have the right look and to 'look sharp' which included owning the European, preferably Italian, step through motor scooter. Customised scooters were common, presenting …

Summary

Object No.

2011/54/1

Object Statement

Vespa P200E motor scooter, with toolkit, helmet and insurance papers, mod subculture, plastic / metal / synthetic fabric / paper, made by Piaggio, Genoa, Italy 1981, used by Terry Mooney, Australia, c.1982

Physical Description

Motor scooter consisting of yellow step through frame, front leg shield, handlebars, mudguards and floorboard with black tread. The motor is a 200cc, 2 stroke, situated under the lift up black upholstered seat. Kick stand situated to the side of the floorboard. Key ignition on the right hand side of the steering shaft.

One key on a Vespa key chain.

Black leather wallet with keys

Set of tools consisting of a bike pump, three spanners, screwdriver and two wheel nut wrenches.

Yellow plastic helmet with styrofoam interior, padded in the interior at the chin, with chin strap made of webbed fabric. The helmet has a removable tinted visor.

Paperwork consisiting of original insurance papers issued in December 1982, owners manual and an advertising brochure

Production

Notes

This Vespa P200E 200cc scooter was made by Piaggio in Genoa Italy in 1981 and purchased at M.A. Motor Garage, Leichardt in 1982.

Terry Mooney purchased this scooter after owning two other 1950s-1960s Lambrettas. He got this model because "even though I preferred the older ones, it was high performance and I had to double the chick around. It was good for long scooter runs".

The P-series was the last of the 'classic' vespas made by Piaggio, made from 1977-1982, and was launched in 1977 to replace the Super/Sprint/Rally series. It was a complete redesign and sold in either a 125cc, 150cc or 200cc Trim. It kept the basic motor and layout of the earlier scooters, but corrected a few of the perceived flaws found in earlier models. The suspension was improved, as was the speedometer. A 12 volt lighting system was installed, which with a larger headlight, and functional turn signal, made the scooter much safer on the road. The frame was also larger than previous models, but the shape of the frame was a considerable departure, becoming more square and angular in shape. The cowls were also made more angular and had integral turn signals. On the front, the signals were now attached to the sides of the leg shield. The previously exposed metal horn was now placed behind a removable plastic horn casting, which also hid a large electrical wiring junction box. On the other side of the leg shields, all P-series models came with a large locking glove box. Finally, the seat was made larger, with a dual saddle, unlike the single seat of earlier models.

While the P series scooter was high performance in comparison with earlier models, it was not wholly embraced by scooter enthusiasts within the Sydney mod subculture due to the change in its appearance. "In about 1978, after long and careful deliberation; Piaggio took a lovely rounded curvy design and made it ugly, it's still in production. The end". ('Ardly Normal Scooter Crew, June 2011)

The helmet was made by MPA, Italy, c. 1981. It was purchased from a shop in Parramatta, to use with motorbikes that Terry previously owned. The stickers were applied by him, adapting and utilising excess stock from his place of employment.

The toolkit was obtained with the scooter.

References: Terry Mooney interview, June 2011.
Facebook and email correspondence with Facebook group: 'Ardly Normal Scooter Crew', June, 2011.
Vespa P200E history: http://pleasantpaintings.tripod.com/vespa_history.htm
Vespa buyers guide: http://www.scooterlounge.com/Vespa/P.P.shtml

History

Notes

Terry Mooney was part of the Sydney mod scene during the mid 1980s and purchased his motor scooter in 1982. Terry had previously owned other scooters. While he kept his 1950s Lambretta "because it was cool and old" he never rode it, preferring the Vespa P200E for its high performance. Like his mod friends Terry used to work on his old bikes, but with the new P200E he never had to.

Terry bought the scooter from Tony at M.A. Motor Garage in Annandale. In the early 1980s almost no motorbike shops carried parts or sold scooters. In 1980 there were only two scooter shops in Sydney, Mahler Motors near Central Station (specialising in Lambrettas) and M.A. Motor Garage. The latter, apart from their core motorbike business, also fixed Vespas. Mahler Motors closed down in part due to problems with the Indian made Lambretta GP200, with a resultant decline in the numbers of Lambrettas available in Sydney. However Tony from M.A. Motor Garage "worked quickly and seemed to have a stockpile of parts and Piaggio connections from the old country. People would trade their old Vespas through him and as the trade for scooters grew, he was one of the first to import the new P200 E". (Stark Raving Mod! p88) Terry Mooney recalled he would not have chosen the yellow colour but there was a long waiting list for scooters and "you took what was available. Other people had the modern bikes. The bike went better and it was new and you had the girlfriend, so it was just better".

While the cheaper Indian-made Baja Chetak scooters, which were copies of the Vespa 150 Sprint later became more common, there was still demand for the older bikes. Many mods preferred the older models and sourced them from original owners out in the suburbs.

Prior to becoming involved in the mod scene, Terry Mooney owned motorbikes. The yellow helmet was purchased during this time from a shop in Parramatta. He remembers riding his motorbike at night to a Ramones gig at the Punchbowl Tavern and not being able to see as the tinted visor was so dark. Terry continued to use this helmet when he became a Mod, covering the helmet in stickers he cut down from discarded Cessna stickers (his employer at the time). The stickers included popular mod motifs such as chequerboard patterns, the initials of his scooter club VSI (Vulture Squad International) and a laurel wreath, the logo of Fred Perry (a popular clothing brand within the Mod and Skinhead scene).

Scooters were an intrinsic part of Mod fashion and lifestyle. Mods interviewed for a 1982 newspaper article observed 'Mods ... try to make their scooters look different: You recognise scooters before you recognise the person....The punks, rivals of the mods call them "poxy hair dryers"'. (The National Times 1982) While many of his friends tricked up their scooters with fancy mirrors, lights and other accessories, Terry never did as he liked the look of his scooter the way it was. Having the correct scooter was part of 'the look', Terry recalls how important it was to 'look right' and he fitted in because he had the right suits. Mod zines such as 'Shake and Shout', 'Sept Jour' and 'Sussed Out' were important sources of information on scooter care amongst other things, informing mods on "everything from how to keep their scooters in tune, to where to go to get the best haircut".

Terry Mooney only ever used his scooter when he was doing "mod stuff". He also owned a car (an S series Valiant). He used the scooter to ride to the pub and for numerous long distance scooter runs, a popular past-time within the Mod scene. He lived in the western suburbs of Sydney but had many Mod friends in inner city suburbs such as Glebe and Newtown. While the nexus of the Sydney scene shifted and changed over time, Terry recalls he was part of the second wave of Sydney Mods (the first wave of the late 1970s centring around the Hosie brothers) and hung out mostly at the Sussex and Royal George Hotels in the city. He and his group of Mod friends also frequented the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown, the Palisade at the Rocks and the Quarryman's Hotel in Pyrmont, a later centre for the Mod scene in Sydney. Terry recalls scooter runs to Canberra, The Royal National Park and Palm Beach in particular. Flyers for these scooter runs can be found in the mod archive donated to the Powerhouse Museum by Kirstin Sibley.

The 1980s Sydney Mod scene was well documented photographically, with scores of photographs recording almost every aspect of the Mod lifestyle. Pictures of scooter runs, socialising in pubs and groups of Mods gathered around lines of parked scooters feature prominently. Amongst the photographs in Kirstin Sibley's archive there is a single image of Terry Mooney sitting outside the Quarryman's Hotel prior to a scooter run to the Royal National Park in 1984. Another photograph, by Cathy Farlow shows both Terry and his scooter before a scooter run to Canberra, Australia Day 1983.

Rebecca Bower, Assistant Curator, Australian History and Society, 2011

References: Terry Mooney interview, June 2011
Klepac, A and Posters W., Stark Raving Mod, A K Publishing, Sydney, Australia, 2010.
Simpson, Lindsay, 'The Mods Ride Again', The National Times, Feb 8-Mar 6 1982.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2011

Acquisition Date

20 July 2011

Cite this Object

Harvard

Vespa motor scooter and helmet 2023, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 7 February 2023, <https://ma.as/416919>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/416919 |title=Vespa motor scooter and helmet |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=7 February 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}