The world’s largest collection of Honda motorcycles on display to the public apart from the Japanese company’s own Collection Hall at its Twin Ring Motegi race track in Japan, is now open for visitors. Located in the UK 100 miles/160km northeast of London at Leiston, Suffolk, the David Silver Honda Collection’s purpose-built two-storey facility was opened on June 29 before a host of VIP’s and senior motorcycle industry figures, by TV celebrity and passionate motorcyclist, Top Gear co-host James May. Also present as guest of honour was the USA’s three-time World Champion road racer Freddie Spencer, who of course won all three of his world titles on Hondas.
The Collection’s owner David Silver’s love affair with two-wheeled Hondas began in 1977, when at the age of 16 he purchased an SS50 moped. Silver, now 55, founded the Honda parts business that bears his name 30 years ago, and has since built it up to become Europe’s largest source of NOS/new old stock genuine spare parts for Honda motorcycles of the Sixties and Seventies, all the way through to 2005 models, as well as commissioning authentic reproductions of parts that are no longer available. Silver began with the purchase of a couple of hundred pounds worth of obsolete petrol tanks and mudguards back in 1986, and now carries a massive inventory of spares for more than 1,000 different models which he has sourced from dealers and distributors all over the world, making David Silver Spares www.davidsilverspares.co.uk one of the world’s premier sources for vintage and classic Honda motorcycle parts.
Around ten years ago Silver began tracking down complete historic Honda motorcycles for his customers and, eventually, himself. “I guess the whole collection started as a parts resource,” says David. “Spares are our business, and having an example of a particular model is an easy way to see what goes where – and our own stock of bikes grew from there, really. What we’ve ended up with is a great collection of Honda machines that will take people down their own particular memory lane, so we decided to open it to the public. Apart from Joey Dunlop’s Vimto Honda and a six-cylinder 350cc GP racer [a George Beale replica – AC] we won’t have any more racebikes in the museum. The overriding theme is “Bikes I used to own” – it’s a museum of memories that’ll hopefully get people saying “I used to have one of those!” as they look around”
Silver expanded his operation into the USA two years ago with the opening of a warehouse in Pennsylvania, and shortly after doing so purchased the entire collection of around 120 Hondas dating to the 1970s, assembled by Honda main dealer Bob Logue in the northern part of that state. Shipping them over to the UK added them to the bikes he’d already collected himself, joined shortly after by a prized but smaller collection of rare 1950s Honda models sourced from a European collector. Many of the bikes purchased from the Pennsylvania dealership were low-mileage trade-ins with just a few hundred miles on their odometer, and all are in original condition. Altogether Silver now owns more than 200 Honda motorcycles built between 1951 and 1991, but for reasons of space in the new purpose-built museum only around 150 of these will ever be on display at any one time, with the exhibits rotated regularly to make it worthwhile for customers to return.
Starting with the historic Cub F-type and finishing with the iconic CBR900RR Fireblade, the David Silver Collection is a fitting tribute to the company’s founder and mastermind, Soichiro Honda, a fact with which James May agrees. “This tells the story of how Soichiro Honda built a great company by taking the visitor along a fascinating journey, often triggering their own individual memories. I’m lucky enough to own several historic Hondas, and I found myself dreaming about the next model I want to get just by looking at this wonderful collection. I’m sure bike enthusiasts from any country will be equally fascinated by what Silver has gathered together.”
American visitor Freddie Spencer agreed. “I’ve been very lucky to have travelled the world for my job,” said the three-time World champion. “I’ve seen some great bike collections in my time, both private and public, but I can’t remember ever seeing such a large and interesting collection of Honda road bikes, and it’s also been very well laid out, with so much thought. I was lucky enough to meet Mr Honda personally, and he was a brilliant innovator. This collection of bikes covering his lifespan illustrates his creativity superbly.”
Full details of the David Silver museum’s location and opening times can be found on www.davidsilverhondacollection.co.uk
Photo credit: Motocom