A History of Gus Kuhn Motors Limited
The original Gus Kuhn Motors workshops in Paradise Road.  Gus is 2nd from left.
Following on from his career in trials, scrambles, TT and dirt track racing, in 1932 Gus founded his own business, Gus Kuhn Motors Limited.

Initially the premises consisted of a workshop (left) at 20a Paradise Road, Stockwell, London SW9.

A showroom (right) was soon added around the corner at 296 Clapham Road. Both these sites were demolished in the fifties and are now under a shopping parade and a block of flats.

 

Immediately after the end of World War II Gus purchased the premises at 275 Clapham Road (on the corner of Lingham Street), opposite his original showroom, where the company was to remain until its closure.

His daughter, Marian, joined the business, working in the office. Shortly after this, Gus's wife became ill and he decided that he wanted someone else to take on the day to day running. A friend of his in the motorcycling press recommended his son, Dick Hullett, and his chum, Vincent Davey, who had been working at Norton and BSA since they were both demobbed from the Paras. Of the two, Vincent showed the greater aptitude for business. The boss's daughter took a shine to him too - and they were married in 1950.

In the mid fifties Vincent completely re-vamped the premises as a purpose built motorcycle showroom with workshop at the back and an office and small flat above. Vincent, by now managing director, expanded the business, and Gus was happy to take a back seat and spend more time with his family.

Gus Kuhn Motors at 275 Clapham Road in the 60s.

In the sixties Vincent took on a Rootes car dealership to diversify the business, but eventually decided not to follow this trend and to concentrate solely on three British motorcycle marques: BSA, Triumph & Norton. In 1968, when Norton unveiled their new Commando, he spotted that this would be an excellent model to take racing. It coincided with a windfall as the company had purchased some houses in Lingham Street, behind the workshop, with a view to extending the premises, but the local council had other plans for the area and had compulsorily purchased the properties. Sadly Gus had died two years earlier so was never to see the achievements of the race team that bore his name.

An extensive customising service was offered for the Norton Commando and success in racing led to a greater international profile for the company. The export side of the business grew in the early seventies, fuelled by tax breaks for exported vehicles and the Americans' appetite for British and German motorcycles. Many young American servicemen returned from the Vietnam War via the Clapham Road. In the family tradition Vincent's daughter, Valerie, joined the company and later his son Vincent Jnr. too.

Gus Kuhn BMW Centre at 300 Clapham Road, London SW9.
GK Clothing Centre at 288 Clapham Road, SW9.

The company took on the BMW dealership in 1970 just as the marque was being marketed more extensively in the UK and Gus Kuhn quickly became the top selling BMW dealer in the country (and second in the world!). They expanded the premises by opening a BMW Centre (right) in 1971 at 300 Clapham Road in the parade of shops opposite the main showroom, a few feet from the ground where Gus's original showroom would have been. They also imported MV Agustas at this time. Later, there was the GK Clothing Centre (left) a few yards down the road at 288 Clapham Road.

By the end of the seventies racing was becoming too expensive and time consuming, and Vincent wanted to concentrate more on the business.

In the mid-eighties the business was consolidated and all activities were moved back into the main showroom, which was extended. By the end of the eighties Vincent was thinking of retirement and eventually sold the business to Wheels International in 1989.