The vintage motorcycling community lost a good friend on November 16th when Bill Ford suffered a fatal heart attack on his way to a British & European Classic Motorcycle Day meeting.
Bill will be remembered for his involvement in organizing, informing, and connecting with people who share enthusiasm for classic British and European motorcycles.
Bill helped the Mid-Atlantic vintage motorcycling community to grow and thrive through his passion and his gift of communicating with people. He knew lots of folks (locally, nationally and internationally) in the classic and vintage bike world, and could strike up a conversation with anyone.
Bill was the driving force behind the British Bike Club (BBC) and Classic and Vintage Motorcycle Association (CAVMA) in the early 1980s. I first met him at a BBC meeting at his place near Damascus, MD. He had a BSA twin and a BSA single cafe project at the time. I found out that we had a common bond, as he did the outstanding newsletter and graphics for the CAVMA-BBC group, and I was doing the same for the newly formed Nation’s Capital Norton Owners.
Bill had a dirt bike as a child that he rode around his parents yard, which turned into his lifelong passion. In his youth, he worked at Blalock Cycle in Wheaton as a bicycle and motorcycle mechanic. Bill’s full-time job for over 24 years was Art Director for the Air Line Pilots Association magazine. Bill’s dad worked at National Geographic, and Bill learned from him, as well as his eight years in the USAF as a photographer and contributor to Airman magazine.
Bill got in touch with me in 1984 to spread the word to the Norton club about an All-British Meet that was being planned in Rockville in July. Little did I know that this would be the start of our involvement together in British Motorcycle Day and British & European Classic Motorcycle Day over the next 29 years. 1984 was also the year he first organized a large display of vintage motorcycles for the winter International Motorcycle Show in Baltimore, getting the CAVMA group and NCNO to set up displays.
When British Motorcycle Day had their last event in 2001, he organized a meeting in the summer of 2002 to form a new committee to continue the event as British & European Classic Motorcycle Day. Although he ‘retired’ as president of B&E CMD a year ago, he was still involved and willing to help out where he could.
Bill wrote the ‘Classic Column’ for the Motorcycle Times regional free motorcycle magazine for over 20 years. Through his friends and connections, he would interview, photograph, and write interesting articles about classic and vintage machines and the people that owned and built them. Many of his photos ended up on the cover of the magazine. He also wrote articles that were published in England.
Bill ran the Nostalgia Run, a road riding event for vintage bikes, held in Thrumont, MD every September, put on by the Western Maryland Motorcycle Association. And he helped the Virginia British Motorcycle Club put on their first show in Richmond.
Bill’s memorial service was well attended, with a handful of people riding their motorcycles despite the damp November weather. Bill is survived by his wife Lana, his two children Ryan Ford and Lyndsie Strange, and grandson Dean Strange. His remains were interred at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, VA.
Bill Ford will be missed by all who knew him. He will no doubt be remembered fondly whenever people talk about the classic motorcycling community.