Back at the end of June of 2016 a new and very special museum opened, deep in darkest Suffolk.
The David Silver Honda Collection was quite possibly the biggest collection of historic Honda motorcycles and memorabilia seen outside of the Honda Collection Hall in Japan: maybe so much so that even founder Shoichiro Honda himself would have been proud.
While the Honda Collection Hall in Japan contains restored examples of almost every machine the factory produced, Silver’s museum looks at the other sorts of machines: many of which may be unrestored or almost unused; machines from the 1950s all the way through to the 1990s – and more machines and museum features are being added to all the time.
The museum itself was opened with much fanfare on June 29th 2016 with special guests Freddie Spencer and TV’s James May – a man who has had dealings with David Silver and purchased many bikes and parts from him over the years. At the opening, May said: “This is a great history story of how Soichiro Honda built a great company taking the visitor along a fascinating journey through their own individual past. I’m lucky enough to own several historic Hondas and I found myself dreaming about the next bike I wanted by getting lost in my thoughts in this wonderful collection. I’m sure bike enthusiasts will be equally fascinated by what Silver has gathered together. I worthy trip to the depths of Suffolk I’d say.”
or David, this was a logical step from forming his Honda parts business back in 1986/1987… He recalls: “I started ‘tinkering’ with parts, buying up unwanted stock from Honda dealers and selling the bits piece by piece through the weekly bike paper. I worked out there were parts distributors in the UK and they had to sit on a huge amount of stock. If you were a Honda dealer then you had to go to a parts distributor, not from Honda direct, so they had to service all their customers and keep huge volumes of stock. Very quickly – when new models came out, seats and tanks that insurers were not prepared to cover with the cost of write offs and things – there were lots of parts that were obsolete. They were still available; everything was back then but at a hell of a price exceeding the value of the bike. So I would just buy all the stock for a few pence on the pound. Then I’d work out what I had, make up a list and put it in MCN. The rest is history, some aftermarket parts now – like 750K2 tanks – are selling at more than three times whatever a Honda one ever cost.”
David Silver Spares eventually went from being a home-based operation to being bricks and mortar, now having a huge comprehensive warehouse for parts as well as an expert sales team based in the office, which is on the same site as the museum, in Leiston, eastern Suffolk.
David explained that many of the original machines which began the collection came from the USA and former owner Bob Logue, a Honda dealer in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This collection was acquired after a long period of negotiations by Silver’s US spares business run by his brother in law David Currie in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and brought to the UK. Over the years David and his US-spares business have sourced more and more machines.
Says Silver: “Over a period of 35 years, Bob would take Hondas in part exchange, many with just a few hundred miles on them, dust them off and put them in his own collection: so many of them are almost as if they had come from the showroom floor. One of my favourites is a 1969 CD175A K3 twin with frame number 20000122. It’s so original, and with a number that means it must have been made on the first day of production.”
By the time the collection opened its doors in July 2016, more than 150 historic Hondas filled the two-storey museum, along with Honda memorabilia and a unique series of ‘sound and vision’ displays which give visitors the story of Honda motorcycles. The bikes include CB750 fours (OHC and DOHC), CX and CB500 twins, CB500 fours, CB250 and 350 twins, CB72 racers, trail bikes and many other lightweights as well as an early Cub F-type from 1951 through to a Honda CBR900RR FireBlade of the 1990s…
All the time the number of bikes is steadily climbing as well as being added to by David’s own collection. Over the last two years many more have joined the fold – including a number of police bikes, leading to the creation of a ‘Cop’s Corner’ where five pre-used Honda Police bikes from the 1960s, 70s and 80s reside. They are a 1960s CP450 Police model, a 1964 CYP77 Police; 1970s CB550 Police; 1970s CB750 Police; 1970s CB650 Police and a 1980s CBX750P Police. Also introduced has been a ‘Honda Reading Room’ which is fully open to all museum visitors and is growing in content with over 200 model Fact-Files and other interesting publications to study.
Regular events are also held at the museum, including the recent 50th Anniversary of the Honda CB750, which saw a number of rare and exotic models and variations of the first ‘superbike’ come to the museum for everyone to see and enjoy.
The David Silver Spares Museum collection is still being added to and we did hear that he’s on the prowl for a number of excellent condition Hondas, so perhaps pop by and haggle? For more information on how to get there, opening times and ticket prices, go to: www.davidsilverhondacollection.co.uk.