The simple answer to that question would be: to be different. It’s undeniable; Mods are sometimes contradictory in their way of thinking. We want to be noticed but still want to be an underground subculture. We want to stand out but we can’t stand being mainstream. We are all about the “Modern World” yet this generation of Mods exclusively rides vintage Vespas and Lambrettas.
So why all the shinny accessories and chrome? Back in the early sixties, the Mod scooter was a lot less extravagant. Paint seemed to be the main focus. Relatively cheap to do, you could easily customize your ride. The two-tone scheme was a popular choice, usually a light color with a dark one. It was easy to just take the side panels off a Lambretta and paint them.
By ‘63-’64, mirrors and fog lights were added on and soon every conceivable, bolt on accessory became part of the Mod myth. Spare wheels, wheel covers, cowl protectors, pennants, aerials, seat covers, back rests the size or ironing boards, fly screens, whip antennas, fox tails, automotive badges, jag lights, bumpers, Florida bars, baskets, side panels embellishers, headlight peaks, fork covers, crash bars, spinners, mud flaps, flashes, grips, lever covers, leg shield trims, tassels, horn covers, floorboard extensions, leg shield toolboxes, air horns, mats were all part of the arsenal.
Companies like Vigano, Ardor, Biemme, Ulma, Falbo, Super, Feridax, Stadium, Cuppini, Metalplast specialized in personalizing your ride. Since a Mod’s scooter was his favored accessory, you ended up with tons of accessories for your accessory.
The chrome luggage rack is probably one of the most convenient and practical aftermarket accessory a scooter can have. Toss in a few bungee cords and you can carry a spare scooter with you. But not for a Mod! A leg shield rack is just another excuse to strap more stuff to your 2-stroke machine. This is where you basic ten mirrors and six spotlights are secured. Where would we be without those trusty front racks?
When I cruise along the downtown streets of Montreal on my ‘59 Vespa VNB, with its nine mirrors and nine spotlights, I have my fair share of comments. But what I mostly get are smiles. The majority of people might not get it but their faces light up. And when a smart ass asks me sarcastically why I have so many mirrors, I usually respond: “I just love to look at myself.” Now that’s being a Mod!