Our Company began trading in the summer of 1959 in Westminster Rd, Hoole, Chester. This is where probably one of the most famous independent family business started by Bill Smith who was all ready well known on the racing circuit riding for Honda in 1959 on the first Japanese imported bikes to the UK. He was riding a RC161 125cc race bike along side great legends such as AGOSTINI, SURTEES, HAILWOOD AND READ.
Bill won many accolades none more impressive as the 1978 formula 3 world title. Those that follow racing will know him as a TT legend with 50 replicas to his name. In the 60s motorcycle sales boomed and the business flourished. We were the first franchised dealer for HONDA and interest in the imported Japanese bikes was intense. The 70s and 80s saw the introduction of SUZUKI, KAWASAKI and YAMAHA. BILL SMITH MOTORS WAS BORN.
By the late 80s early 90s the company were stocking smaller dealers all over the UK and exporting to EU countries. Daughter Karen joined in the late 80s and the business truly was family.
It was summer 1959, the racing season was in full swing and Bill was concentrating on riding in GP's on works AJS and Matchless for the Arter team. In the IOM that year Bill had been introduced to Mr Kawashima, the new Honda team boss who subsequently went on to become Honda President. Bill could see the future of Honda and decided he was going to open a retail business.
Bill opened Bill Smith Motors Ltd in 1959 at the Hoole purpose built showroom Initially selling second hand cars. Bill was offered a ride on a works Honda 125cc at the British Championships meeting at Oulton Park. Finishing 2nd to Mike Hailwood made Bill even more determined to get involved with Honda and in 1961 became the 1st company to import the famous Japanese brand.
Still racing successfully Bill had been dropped from the Arter team as they didn't like him using Japanese bikes which featured left hand gear changes!! Honda business was booming and Bill was offered the UK consession in 1961, however Bill had to guarantee 5000 sales per annum and still racing full time Bill could not commit to such a total, so in 1962 Honda UK was formed and at the 1962 Earles Court show sold 26,000 bikes!
Bill was kicking himself but went on selling Honda at a great pace opening Honda shops in Liverpool, Warrington, Winsford, Rhyl and Bangor, with a Honda car garage at Two Mills on the Wirral. However Bill was always looking for opportunities, and in 1966 took on Bridgestone Motorcycles while racing at Suzuka in the Japanese GP. This blossomed for a couple of years and then he imported the first Kawasaki machines into the UK in 1968. Kawasaki went on in the 80's to form Kawasaki UK.
Bill won many accolades none more impressive as the 1978 formula 3 world title. Those that follow racing will know him as a TT legend with 50 replicas to his name.
Going along with companies specialised policies of selling Honda, in 1979 the Company sold 3280 New Honda Motorcycles which created cracks in the Honda relationship, which allowed other franchises to be taken on and since 1993 the Company has diversified.
In 1996 having both Daughter Karen and son Mark heavily involved in the business now a relocation was decided, and a ex Mercedes state of the art showroom on Tarvin Road was purchased and is where Bill Smith Motors has been ever since, this year 2009 celebrating 50 years in business...
50 years on, Bill Smith Motors is still going strong - find our more about Bill Smith Motors in the 21 century.