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. This was only a couple of years after the earliest Bond Minicars had started to leave the production line at Sharp's Commercials factory in Ribbleton Lane, Preston.
At the inaugural meeting in June 1951, 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 1960s 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 Sharp's 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 factories in Preston, a small group of Bond three-wheeler enthusiasts formed 'BOND INFO' to continue the contact between the various remaining 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 1970s and early 1980s.
Several changes had to be made over the years to keep the organisation going during times of failing enthusiasm and poor attendance at both 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 had not been included initially, but they were welcomed into Bond Info in that same year, helping to boost the membership numbers.
These changes kept Bond Info and the few remaining local Bond Clubs alive during this difficult period, until January 1984 when a different organiser took over the running of the club.
Since then, these Bond sections, plus many individual members, have combined to become the National organisation we have today, THE BOND OWNERS' CLUB. It has grown and adapted to change through the 1980s and into the third millenium but has settled down to a steady world-wide membership of around 300.
The National Bond Rally at Morecambe in Lancashire (running originally from 1955 to 1967) was revived in 1986 and continued until 2003 when it was moved to more central locations.
The club produces 'in house' its own monthly magazine called 'Bond Info'. It also provides copies of various handbooks, parts catalogues and written guidance to assist owners with maintaining and keeping their Bonds on the road. (See "Club Services" in the header bar above.)
We are one of the longest-running car clubs in the UK and certainly THE oldest club for vehicles that are now known as 'microcars'. 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 and Lilliput.
Original Minicar Owners' Club badge introduced in the early 1950s
Later Owners' Club badge included Scooters and was introduced in 1958
Bond Info badge from the 1970s
Current Owners' Club badge adopted in 1984