NotesTerry 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.