Vincent was born in Doncaster in 1926, the youngest son of a large family. His father was a coal miner, though he had to give up working on the coal face due to lung problems and moved to the pay office at the mine.
Vincent was described as a keen student at school. When he was about ten his father decided to moved Vincent and his youngest siblings to Barnet, where his oldest son was now living and working. He hoped that the move south would improve their chances in life. Unfortunately their father died soon after and so the children were taken in by their elder siblings.
In 1942 Vincent enrolled in the ATC, wanting to join the RAF when he would be old enough to play his part in beating Hitler. By 1944 the RAF didn't need him so he enlisted in the Army.
After officer training in Bangalore, India, he was granted an emergency commission in August 1946 and served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). He was in the battalion boxing and football teams and remained a keen sportsman all his life. He was promoted to War Substantive Lt in February 1947 and volunteered for airborne forces attending a Parachute Course at RAF Upper Heyford in June 1947.
He then went to Palestine, stationed at HQ 3rd Para Brigade. Faced with the unenviable task of upholding the law in a lawless country, the individual British soldier had to face continual opposition from a hostile Jewish community. The army was a major turning point in his life, both giving him the name Dave that most people will know him by, and his love for motorcycles which dates from his days as Transport Officer at Nazareth, Palestine.
As soon as he left the Army he went to work at Norton Motors at the Bracebridge Street factory in Birmingham. He stayed there for a year and then moved down the road to BSA where he remained for another 12 months.
Mike Jackson, Norton Villiers Sales Director,
remembers Vincent Davey.
I first met Vincent through Bob Manns soon after I'd joined Norton Villiers in 1969; from the outset it was clear he was a cut above the average motorcycle dealer. Unlike the majority of shop owners his concentration was primarily on spares and service. He'd regularly give us a 'hard time' if we failed to fulfil his spares orders and, whilst capable of solving 99% of the mechanical malfunctions suffered by his Norton customers, he was constantly in touch with Norton's service personnel in his endeavours to ensure the factory were fully aware of his current techno deficiencies!
Vincent's view was that if our machines performed satisfactorily in the customer's hands additional sales would automatically follow. Given the healthy market at that time his assumption was 100% correct.
Another of his many good points was that he did not subscribe to the blatant discount culture operated by so many of his contemporaries. Gus Kuhn Motors in fact were well known for unashamedly charging full price. Following the introduction of VAT one witty trader suggest that as far as S London was concerned the acronym stood for Vincent's Added Tax! Vincent, quite correctly, claimed that a price cutting dealer was incapable of holding a sufficient stock of spare parts, and that his workshop facilities were often suspect.
From a factory perspective, he was utterly straightforward to deal with, and it was always a pleasure to meet him at a race or exhibition, and particularly one-to-one when he visited. He was a man who raised the standard, he will be greatly missed.
In 1950 Dave joined Gus Kuhn at his south west London business. His association with Gus Kuhn came through his friendship with Dick Hullett, who was a fellow para. Dick's father was the advertising manager of 'Motor Cycle' and he knew Gus was looking for someone to manage his business. There Dave took a shine to the boss's daughter, Marian, and they were married in September.
He tried racing in the early 1950s. His machine was the 250cc Rudge on which Roland Pike finished fifth in the lightweight TT, though that was sold when he got married. In 1952 he had three outings on a 500 Manx Norton belonging to the firm.
As Gus took more of a 'back seat' at his company, Dave took the business from strength to strength, though he always found time for a round of golf or a game of tennis. Gus passed away in 1966, leaving Dave and Marian in charge of the company.
In 1968 three significant things happened. Norton announced their new model, the 750 Commando, Dave went to the Barcelona 24 hour race with his friend Stan Shenton (of Boyers of Bromley) and there he met a promising young rider called Mick Andrew. Dave wanted to go racing again! Stan gave him the idea, the Commando seemed an ideal model and Mick would ride it.
So the Gus Kuhn race team was formed. The first race at Lydden was a great success and he decided to buy 350 and 500 Seeleys to give Mick extra rides. Other riders joined the stable and the racing story is covered elsewhere on the website.
By the end of the 70s racing was changing and becoming too expensive. The publicity it had brought to the business and Dave's management meant that the company continued to be successful, but by the end of the 80s he was thinking of retirement (and golf!) and so sold the business to Wheels International in 1989.
Marian Davey died in 2003. Parkinson's disease took it's toll in Dave's latter years and sadly he passed away in January 2010.