An introduction to the Bond Owners' Club
The original Bond (Minicar) Owners' Club was formed in June 1951 after a letter suggesting such a club was published in "The Editors Correspondence" in Motor Cycling magazine on 22nd February 1951. The letter praised the Minicar for its amazing qualities and suggested that as greater numbers of Bonds reached the hands of the public, a new "clan" of motorists, halfway between motorcyclists and car owners, would emerge. It was felt some sort of contact - an organisation such as a Minicar Club was desirable, and also asked if the manufacturers would perhaps sponsor such a venture. This was only a couple of years after the earliest Bond Minicars had started to leave the production line of Sharp's Commercials' factory in Ribbleton Lane, Preston.
At the inaugural meeting, the various details were sorted out for dividing the country into five regions, and Sharp's Commercials showed their support for the new National Club, by agreeing to supply members with a free badge and a periodical bulletin.
Very soon, club sections were springing up all over the country and at the peak in the 1960's there were over 40 different clubs. They covered an area from Edinburgh to the Isle of Wight and from South Wales to East Anglia. Some had just a handful of members whilst others in the south-east could boast over 100.
These clubs organised their own regular events, such as camping weekends, day trips, treasure hunts, picnics and rallies during the summer months, often travelling in convoy to meet up with other Bond Minicar Owners' Clubs - and many of their members attended the hugely popular annual Bond Rallies at Morecambe and Clacton, sponsored by Sharps Commercials Ltd. The winter months were occupied with social evenings, quiz nights, dances, film shows and even maintenance classes provided by representatives from companies like Villiers or local Bond Dealers.
All the Bond Clubs were individually organised but kept in touch with each other via the BOND MINICAR NEWS, a club magazine sponsored by Sharp's Commercials. This provided a means of advertising a club event to other interested Bond Owners and enthusiasts up and down the country, but more importantly, it also allowed the company to keep in touch with its customers. This feedback from owners through the magazine, via articles and the letters pages, was not wasted, and Sharp's Commercials responded to its customers' comments and criticisms. Over the years, vehicles were steadily improved and new models incorporated better lighting, electrical charging and starting, more doors, bigger interiors, better braking, more powerful engines, wind-up door windows, improved suspension, bigger wheels and so on.
In 1970, at the time of the closure of the Bond Factory, a small group of Bond three-wheeler enthusiasts formed "BOND INFO" to continue the contact between the various Bond Clubs and to be a central source of information on all aspects of Bond ownership. Where groups of owners were seen to be geographically close to each other, Bond Info encouraged them to form new Bond Clubs. The organisers enthusiasm combined with dedication and hard work in producing a monthly newsletter and an annual National Rally certainly kept Bonding alive in the 1970's and early 1980's.
Several changes had to be made over the years to keep the organisation going during times of failing enthusiasm and poor attendance at National and local events. The original idea of a free newsletter in return for a 12 month supply of self-addressed stamped envelopes proved not to be very cost effective over the years and a £1.00 subscription was introduced in 1979. Equipe and Bug owners were not included initially, but they were welcomed into Bond Info in that same year, helping to boost the membership numbers.
Since then, these sections, plus many individual members, have combined to become the National organisation we have today, THE BOND OWNERS' CLUB. It has grown and changed through the 1980's and 1990's but has settled down to a steady world-wide membership of around 300.
The National Bond Rally at Morecambe (running originally from 1955 to 1967), was revived in 1986 and continued until 2003, when, due to financial cut-backs at Lancaster Council, their sponsorship of the Bond Rallies came to an end and it became too costly for the club to continue holding a rally there, so our main annual event was moved to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
The club also produces "in house" its own monthly full-colour magazine and copies of various handbooks and parts catalogues to assist owners with maintaining and keeping their Bonds on the road. (A list of current club services and publications can be found on the next page.)
We are one of the longest running car clubs in the U.K. and certainly THE oldest club for vehicles that are now known as "Micro-cars". Within our membership every model of Bond is represented: Mark A to Mark G Minicars, Equipes, 875s and Bugs. The club has members who own the rare Bond Scooters and Bond Trailer Tents and it also acts as an unofficial register for the Lawrie Bond designed B.A.C. Minibyke.
Celebrating 61 Years Of Bonding