Hongkonger Martin Lever - stylish, chic and adventurous on a Vespa

Just all part of being a Mod, along with fashion and music.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 8:21pm

Hong Kong-based artist Martin Lever says his Vespa is more of a cultural icon than a mere two-wheeler

A Mod is for life, not just for Christmas. And I guess it’s my (almost) lifelong love of Mod music — Small Faces, The Jam, to name just two — and fashion such as button-down shirts, Sta Pressed trousers and desert boots that fuelled a desire to one day own a Vespa.

Not just any Vespa, but one that combined my musical tastes with another great passion of mine, Sunderland Association Football Club (SAFC). Which is why I’m now the proud owner of probably the world’s only SAFC Vespa.

It’s a nine-year-old PX-200 pizza delivery Vespa, lovingly restored and customised by Chris Keith of #HK2Stroke. He’s a fanatical scooter boy from Boston who customises vintage scooters (Lambrettas, too) from his treasure-trove Kwun Tong workshop.

I’ve never been what you would call a petrol head. While I’ve always loved cars, I was probably more passionate about my extensive collection of Dinky Toys as a boy than I’ve ever been about the real thing. And I’ve never had a yearning to own a motorbike, either. But a Vespa is different. It’s more of a cultural icon than a mode of transport to me.

My Vespa is primarily designed for pleasure. Although I have, however, been using it lately as part of a mobile art project, recording some of lovely Lantau’s most iconic locations, and helping showcase some of the scenery we are in danger of losing if the concreting of Hong Kong continues unchecked.

A love of this city that I’ve called home for almost 40 years runs through all my artwork. And I’m working on incorporating new pieces inspired by my Lantau Vespa adventures into my Above/Below collection to be exhibited at the Asia Contemporary Art Show at the Conrad Hotel from September 15 to 18.

Being more right brain than left, I know pretty much nothing about how things work. So owning a scooter will probably prove to be a challenge from time to time. But my trusty Haynes manual is already well-thumbed and I’ve managed to remove dodgy starter-motor gear and change a wheel without calling 999.

The other challenge to being on two wheels is obviously everyone else on the road. I have reprogrammed my brain to assume that every other vehicle out there has no mirrors or indicators. Beyond that, I’m in the hands of the almighty SAFC Vespa God.

As told to William Wadsworth