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Villiers Classic Motorcycles

Villiers Engineering Ltd was a manufacturer of motorcycles and cycle parts, and an engineering company based in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton. In the 1890's John Marston's Sunbeam had become extremely successful, by relying on high quality of production and finish. But Marston was dissatisfied with the pedals on his machines, which he bought in. In 1890 he dispatched his son Charles to the USA on a selling trip but included in his instructions that Charles must discuss pedal engineering with Pratt and Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut and come back with a high class pedal and the machinery for making it. Charles said that the Villiers Engineering Co. was "the ultimate fruit" of his trip to the USA, being impressed by the production system and the labour saving devices. He pointed out that "it was not possible to develop these at Sunbeamland, which had long been working on another plan, but it was possible to start them in a new factory".

As a result of the tour, in 1898, John Marston bought a small Japanning works based in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton. Under the direction of Charles, the company made cycle parts for the Sunbeam company. As the factory was producing more parts than Sunbeam required, it sold components to other manufacturers.

1902 was a momentous year for Villiers. Firstly, John Marston sold the company to his son Charles for £6,000 on a loan against future profits. Secondly, it developed and patented the cycle free-wheel, which every cycle manufacturer required. The production of free wheels reached its peak just after World War II, as the company produced 80,000 per week or 4 million per year.

In 1911 engine production commenced, but sales were slow until 1913 when the first two stoke was produced. In 1956 Villiers produced its two millionth engine and presented it to the Science Museum in London.

In 1957 Villiers absorbed JA Prestwich Industries Ltd, makers of the J.A.P. engines. In 1962 the company were claiming that: "jointly the two companies produce a vast range of two-stroke and four-stroke petrol engines and four-stroke diesel engines from 1/3rd to 16 b.h.p. These are the engines which power many of Britain's two-stroke motor cycles, scooters and three wheelers and the great majority of the motor mowers, cultivators, concrete mixers, generating sets, elevators, pumping sets. etc."

In the early 1960's the company was taken over by Manganese Bronze, and in 1966 together with AMC became part of Norton Villiers. In 1999 Villiers Plc acquired the healthcare company Ultramind and renamed the company Ultrasis.

Bike Image Description
1923 Villiers Sparkbrook 257cc Mk6A Villiers Sparkbrook  
1958 Villiers Ambassador 1958 Villiers Ambassador 172cc villiers 2L engined, ambassador statesman motorcycle  first registered 23 april 1958, less than 100 manufactured.
1961 Villiers Gadabout, 50cc 1961 Villiers Gadabout, 50cc
1967 Villiers Sprite, 246cc 1967 Villiers Sprite, 246cc
1969 Villiers 4T Special 1969 Villiers 4T Special One-off twin top tubed frame, Norton Roadholder forks and wheel, BSA modified swingarm and rear wheel.

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