Book Review


“Colin Seeley 1936-2020”
The machines – the magic – the man
Celebrating an industry great
Written and edited by: James Robinson
Available from: Mortons Media Group, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR
Tel: (01507) 529529
Hardback, 240 x 170, 50 pages with over 35 photographs
£7.99 (UK) $11.99 (US)

Welcome to this celebration of the life, times and works of Colin Seeley, and for whom the expression ‘human dynamo’ could’ve been coined.

He was a most energetic and enthusiastic person who experienced huge highs and mighty lows, both professionally and personally, but who always projected a professional – and immaculate – appearance to the world.

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While not a biography, this small appreciation describes the life of Colin who passed away shortly after his 84th birthday in early 2020.

However, whilst very good, this little book goes nowhere near to giving the full picture of the extraordinary experiences of a man who lived a life out of the ordinary.

Born in Kent in 1936, the only child of Percy and Hilda, Colin left school with no qualifications but a noted aptitude for things mechanical and metalwork.

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His first job was with Harcourt Motorcycles, in his native Bexleyheath, before working for numerous businesses, including Halfords. Young Colin, always a man of style, passed his motorcycle test on his father’s Series A HRD Rapide and sidecar.

Aged just 20, with the unwavering support of his parents, Colin opened his first business, in Belvedere, Kent gaining the agency for Matchless/AJS and Greeves – machines on which he showed great promise as a scrambler.

With the business going well, he realised his ambition in 1960 to go sidecar racing, with a well-worn Manx Norton outfit, and partnered by old friend Wally Rawlings.

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For 1961, a brand-new Matchless G50 was acquired and modified for sidecar racing on which the pair made their TT debut – a sensational sixth place was the result.

The 1962 TT was even better, coming third and finishing the season as British sidecar champions. Colin finished his racing career on a high note by racing his FCS-BMW into third place in the 1967 world championships.

At 30, he became a motorcycle manufacturer – the halcyon days of the Seeley G50/7R era – joining Bernie Ecclestone in 1971 in his car racing effort.

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There was tragedy too in the period though, with the death of Joan, Colin’s first wife, who died in 1979. In her honour, Colin set up the Joan Seeley Memorial Trust.

Joining auctioneer Bonhams as a consultant in 1999, he published a two-volume autobiography in 2006 and 2008.

With its many emotive photographs, this little book is, indeed, a collectors’ item.
Book reviewed by Jonathan Hill.

Read more Reviews, Letters, Opinion, News and Features at and in the September 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle – on sale now!

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