David Silver Opens Honda Motorcycle Museum

Parts tycoon David Silver opens museum of 150 historic Hondas.

Among David Silver’s massive collection, a gaggle of four-cylinder bikes, like the CB750, that turned Honda into the superpower it is today.©Motorcyclist

The world’s largest collection of Honda motorcycles on display to the public is at the Japanese company’s own Collection Hall at its Twin Ring Motegi race track in Japan. The second largest collection, however, is now open for visitors. Located 100 miles northeast of London at Leiston, Suffolk, the David Silver Honda Collection’s purpose-built, two-story facility was opened on June 29. On hand for the opening were a host of VIP’s and senior motorcycle industry figures, namely former co-host of Top Gear and passionate motorcyclist James May, and a certain “Fast” Freddie Spencer, who of course won all three of his world titles on Hondas.

How bigtime is David Silver? When 3-time World Champion Freddie Spencer (middle) and global TV star James May (seated) show up, your museum must be good.©Motorcyclist

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 Silver, now 55. “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] 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’s collection is vast, and houses everything from superbikes to minibikes.©Motorcyclist

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. 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.

Joey Dunlop’s SP1 racer
One of the few racebikes in the collection is this gem of an RC51: Joey Dunlop’s SP1 racer from 2000.©Motorcyclist

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.”

Honda museum
One of the themes of Silver’s museum is for visitors to find their own slice of motorcycling history in the rows of machines.©Motorcyclist

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.”

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. David Silver founded his Honda parts business (David Silver Spares) 30 years ago, and has since built it up to become Europe's largest source of new old stock genuine spare parts for Honda motorcycles of the Sixties and Seventies, all the way through to 2005 models. 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 (davidsilverspares.com) one of the world's premier sources for vintage and classic Honda motorcycle parts. Full details of the David Silver museum's location and opening times can be found on davidsilverhondacollection.co.uk.