Remembering a fine sidecar business

Mick Payne looks back fondly on the years of Charnwood Classic Restorations of Hugglescote, Leicestershire – once known as the ‘one-stop sidecar shop’.

Last month I mentioned those sidecar makes that didn’t make it into Geoff Brazendale’s The Sidecar, a History. This was never meant to be a slight on the book but rather to point out how very difficult it is to compile a definitive list of anything.

One that does slip the net is a make that I had a lot of contact with in my days writing for Motorcycle Sport. Jim and Rose D’Arcy ran Charnwood Classic Restorations from a shop and extensive workshops attached to their home in Hugglescote, Leicestershire.

Jim D’Arcy with a beautiful vintage outfit.

If ever there was a ‘proper’ sidecar dealership since the heyday of the 1950s and 60s, it was this one. Most sidecar sellers and builders were pretty much hidden away in industrial units, often in rural locations, but if not exactly in a town centre location, CCR was at least among other shops and businesses.

They even had a showroom with everything you might need for a restoration or simply fitting your own chair, and this was also where Rose worked on the ‘software’ – nothing to do with computing, but rather all the seat coverings, hoods and trims that makes a sidecar interior.

The old Charnwood Classic Restorations shop in Leicestershire.

Meanwhile Jim, along with Steve, worked out at the back restoring, building and fitting sidecars to a multitude of machines from tiddlers to superbikes. I well remember the sweaty palms caused by riding his Honda Blackbird fitted with one of his own Charnwood Sports chairs. This was around 1999, so it’s not too far off being eligible for VMCC events. The mind boggles!

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