The original W E Wassell Limited was established in 1946 by W E (Ted) Wassell after being de-mobbed from the Navy in 1945. The Company was incorporated in April 1956.
Originally, nearly all the parts sold were replacement spares for all the popular British motorcycles, but in later years, various spares and accessories for Japanese motorcycles were added.
During this period, the market was worldwide, though the majority of sales were actually in North America. The Company employed a full quota of 8 full-time sales representatives for the UK, with senior management facilitating the European, Australasian and North American markets.
The original rented premises were in Birmingham, where Wassell traded for several years before moving to its own premises in Springhill (Birmingham 18). In 1967, purpose built premises were constructed in Burntwood, Staffordshire covering 67,000 sq ft, as the Springhill premises had become far too small.
While the majority of the Burntwood site was used as warehousing, in 1976 a manufacturing division was also constructed, to begin the production of a comprehensive range of steel fabricated products and accessories. The site also compromised its own printing and marketing department.
Wassell's beautifully formed alloy tanks and fenders had for years been the chosen item for a generation of home built special and kit bike builders the world over and there wasn't a small production British trials or motocross machine that didn't possess some form of Wassell componentry.
At the 1972 Manchester Motorcycle show, for the first time Wassell showcased it's beautifully built trials and scrambles frame kits for the popular BSA Bantam 125/175 two stroke engine. The success of these kits prompted Ted to start production of complete motocross, enduro and trials bikes. With the help of ex-Dalesman engineers Jim Lee and Peter Edmonson, Wassell unveiled the 125 Sachs powered trails and motocross machines in late 1972. Both models were originally sold in the UK with a list price of £315.
1972 Trials Bike
The Company had built some 3000 off-road motorcycles, many of which were exported to the U.S. via John Penton under the Penton Mudlark mark and via Mitsubishi renamed as the Tyran Antelope. The Antelope featured Ceriani style 35mm forks, REH conical hubs, Dunlop chrome steel rims, Girling shocks, Doherty levers, grips and throttles, and Wassell's own 1.5 gallon alloy fuel tanks and fenders.
Children's motorcycles were also manufactured and sold through the retail trade, such as Woolworths. BMX style bicycles were also manufactured, though mainly for the Japanese market.
Wassell Antelope Sales Brochure
At the height of the Company's activities, the business employed over 100 people (40 of which worked in the manufacturing dept), and was capable of producing its own 300 page catalogues.
Wassell Catalogue Cover 1975
The Company was awarded the Queen's award for Export Achievements in 1973.
Queens Award for Export 1973
Ted died of a sudden heart attack in 1975, aged 52. The Company was subsequently run by former Sales Director Alex Haley, who was later awarded the OBE for services to the motorcycle industry.
From 1980 onwards, the Company experienced a serious downturn in business, which led to the eventual sale of the assets of the Company to MCE Birmingham Ltd in 1985.
The company was then bought by Lintek Gleave in 1996, who then sold the core Lintek business to the Frank Thomas Group in 2003. Since 1996, the company has focused on the core business that made it so successful in the 1960's and 1970's. Wassell is focused on high levels of customer service and long term product development. The Company is committed to investment in new tooling and technology, which enables us to meet our customer's requirements.
In 2011, the Company acquired the Hepolite brand, trademark and goodwill from the Federal Mogul Group. Originally Hepolite was a brand name of Hepworth & Grandage, who later merged with Wellworthy Pistons Ltd, to form A E Piston Products Ltd.
In 2013, the Company acquired the Jones brand, trademarks and goodwill. Originally, Jones were O.E. suppliers to both the Triumph and BSA factories.
In 2014, Wassell acquired the licence for the Lucas brand from Lucas Industries Limited, for Classic Motorcycle parts. In conjunction with Lucas, an extensive product development programme for Classic Motorcycle parts was initiated, to once again, establish Lucas as a market leader within the industry. Further information is available at www.lucasclassicmotorcycle.com
In 2019, Wassell acquired the extended licence for Lucas Classic products, and Girling products worldwide, for Classic motorcycles. The Lucas Classic programme launched in 2019, and included the Lucas Classic Car, Lucas Classic Landrover, and Lucas Classic Motorcycle divisions.
Hepolite Advert 1949
Wassell Catalogue Cover 2001
Wassell Catalogue Cover 2005
Wassell Catalogue Cover 2009