This is an article by Neil Kidby from a recent issue of TANSHA the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club Magazine see www.vjmc.com
The recent purchase and consequent restoration of a 1964 Honda C100 has unearthed quite a story. A chance conversation with a friend about the bike pointed me in the direction of a local motorcycle dealer, namely Davey Brothers motorcycles here in Ipswich. The bike carries a registration number local to Ipswich and the friend suggested that Davey Brothers may have sold it when new as they were one of the first Honda dealerships in the country.
The friend was right, they did sell it new. Davey Brothers were in fact the only Honda dealer in East Anglia at the time and were one of the first 20 initial dealers appointed by Honda. This was even before the days of Honda UK being founded. Back then the bikes were supplied by a company trading as Hondis who were actually a German company called Maico. The bikes were supplied in wooden crates and were assembled in house. Davey Brothers opened for trading in Ipswich in 1959 and opened the Alan Road premises in 1960. The Honda dealership was granted in 1961. The first picture shows a Honda factory race bike (RC161) loaned to Davey Brothers for the launch of the franchise. Mr Honda had removed the ignition coils so it couldn’t be fired up. In hindsight this may have been good for neighbourly relations! Pictured from left to right are; Keith Hammond, Brian Markin, Peter Davey, Brian Welham and Brian Davey. Peter Davey’s Son Paul now runs the Business. At this time the upstairs area of the premises was used for storage of the new bikes and an in house constructed winch was used to raise and lower the bikes.
In the early days of the franchise people were saying don’t get involved with these type of bikes, they are “Jap Crap” I am sure we have all heard similar things in our time. But get involved they did and sure enough people did buy the bikes, the first to arrive being the C92’s, CB92,s and C72,s
Fifty bikes came in the first shipment and sold well, shipment two came and went and by shipment three there was a waiting list.
The picture above was taken in 1963, the man who parked those that close deserves a medal!
The bikes were becoming popular, reliability playing a large part in this, at this time Ipswich was a town of great manufacturing. Companies such as Cranes, (pipe fittings) Ransomes (lawnmowers), Ransome and Rapiers (cranes, walking draglines etc.) Cocksedges (engineering) Reavells (compressors) Cranfields (millers) Burtons (millers) Magnesese Bronze (car components) Bull Motors (electric motors) all employing huge numbers of people all wanting their own transport to get to work. This really was the age of the small commuter bike. This must have played its part in helping Honda becoming established certainly in this town, and indeed the success of Davey Brothers themselves. Sadly all but two of the manufacturing companies listed above have now disappeared.
Honda set up a competition program for dealers, if you achieved the set targets you won a place on a trip to Japan. In the modern world it is easy to think this is no real big deal but, in 1963 this really was the other side of the world, air travel being quite different to what we see now. Davey Brothers did achieve their targets and won a place on the first ever dealer trip to Japan which took place in 1964.
Pictures three and four were also taken in 1963, more sales meant more stock needed so the wall had to go!
Almost inevitably really the Alan Road shop became too small so a piece of nearby land (which was at the time home to a blacksmiths shop) was purchased and picture below shows the new showroom which was built on said land.
This was opened in 1964 by Jim Harrison the then Managing Director of Honda UK. Look carefully in the picture at the step through on the left, Davey Brothers sold a little luggage bag which sat in the legshields. The shop eventually grew and ended up being part of the house on the left of the picture. At the time of building the house on the left of picture was a hairdressers. I remember visiting this shop in the 70’s getting bits for my steed of the time. In the early 90’s Honda thought the way forward was with bigger dealerships and therefore terminated the Honda dealership, the showroom is now a model shop. Davey Brothers still had the Alan Road premises and simply carried on trading from there and where they still are to this day. They are Peugeot Scooter dealers these days but still do repair and maintain many older machines. Salesman Rueben was telling me the last C100’s he sold were £65 on the road for which he got £1 commission, he has worked at this dealership since 1966. It was rather nice to be able to take my newly restored C100 back there for an mot. It was a strange thought really that 44 years ago almost to the month this bike was new and in the very same workshop being prepared for its working life.