The Real Mod Ride

October 24, 2010

 When most of us think of motor scooters the Vespa brand comes to mind, and often in the media we see this brand celebrated as the hip ride of the cool and young in crowd. As some of my countrymen would say, “Bollocks!”. This was not the case when the scooter first became popular in the UK.

 Having lived through the sixties in and around London I can tell you without any doubt that the ride of choice for any self-respecting London ‘mod’ was a Lambretta. Not a Vespa.

In 1965 I had the dubious honor of sharing a rented room with Eddy. Eddy was several shovels short of a load, but friendly and worked hard at his job. He fancied himself as a mod. He had his hair short and defined, cut in the style favored by mods. He wore the pastel shades of Fred Perry shirts, he thought amphetamines to be acceptable driving aids, and yes, he wore a huge army surplus fur trimmed anorak. He had done everything right but for one crucial detail. By some misfortune or other had chosen to ride a Vespa instead of the standard mod ride, the Lambretta. Many were the nights that he came home to our digs depressed after another night of ribbing at the coffee bar where he and his mod crew hung out. “But the Vespa has more horsepower, and is easier to start” he would whine. Many were his justifications for his choice. But it made no difference. As any mod with slightly more smarts than Eddy knew the Lambretta was The Ride.

Vespas were for the commuter, the students, or worse. The Innocenti Lambretta was the cool ride of mid-sixties mod world.

Not a Vespa to be seen!

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