Register / Sign in

UK

07/01/2022

1948-2021

Britain’s top BMW dealer and three times Isle of Man TT winner Tony Jefferies died on 29 December 2021 aged 73.

An engaging personality with a ready smile Jefferies was steeped in the motorcycle trade. The family business was started by his grandfather Joe in 1917.

Resilient and forward looking, Tony suffered terrible tragedies as well as topflight business success in his personal, racing and busy business life.

In 1966, aged 18, he joined BSA as an apprentice and also worked at the Triumph factory. This provided a firm foundation for a life in the trade and inspired him to take up road racing in 1968.

Not a fan of growing unionisation at the Triumph factory he left in 1970 to join his father Allan at Allan Jefferies Motorcycles in Shipley, Yorkshire. That year he scored his first significant road race win at Scarborough.

In 1971 he hit the headlines with two Isle of Man TT race wins – the 350 Junior (Yamsel) and the inaugural Formula 750 TT (Triumph Trident). He was second in the 750 production TT (Triumph Trident), and third in the 350 Ulster GP.

At the start of 1971 he had been appointed a works rider for Triumph and was a member of the victorious British team in the inaugural Easter Anglo-American Match races. This new glamour series for F750 machines kickstarted a new colourful era in British road racing. Jefferies – tall, easy-going and good looking – had acquired hero status aged 23 by season’s end.

On the business front Tony added BMW to the Jefferies’ multi-franchise portfolio in 1971... and was given the sack! His staunchly patriotic father Allan – recognised as Britain’s finest off-road rider in the pre-war era and twice runner-up in the Clubman’s TT (1947 and 1949) – did not approve.

They came to a truce and time would prove the prescient nature of Tony’s BMW decision, Meanwhile, in 1972 Tony was again a member of the winning British team in the Anglo-American series and was second in the F750 TT.

In 1973 his part in the Easter series British success was repeated, and he scored his third TT win, the 750 production on a Triumph Trident that he had so comprehensively mastered. He was also third in the F750 TT.

But this blazing glory was to end in a crash at Mallory Park. Tony suffered a broken back, aged 25, which left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But it didn’t break his spirit. He concentrated on business taking on Japanese marques and keeping pace in rapidly changing times.

Father Allan died in 1978, but his name would be perpetuated by Tony at the business reins assisted by younger brother Nick who would also become a TT winner and maintain Jefferies family high profile.

A brilliant all-rounder Nick rode the Island Mountain Course spanning 1975-2017 scoring 18 podium places and two wins: 1983 Manx GP Senior (Suzuki) and 1993 F1 TT (Honda).

Tony’s son David also took up road racing becoming a tour de force. He won nine TTs by scoring triple wins in 1999, 2000 and 2002. But another tragedy was waiting in the wings. David was killed in 2003 TT practice. The next blow was the passing of Tony’s wife Pauline in 2008.

In 1995 Tony had further committed to BMW by opening a solus agency in Otley Road Shipley. Never out of the top ten BMW dealers since then, Jefferies would become lead BMW dealer, daughter Louise taking over as general manager and director in 2000 and spurring the business on in its fourth generation of the Jefferies family.

Tony maintained his interest in Allan Jefferies BMW as it went from strength to strength, opening a new £1.7m state of the art premises in 2010 in Baildon, West Yorkshire, and selling more that 500 new BMWs in 2015 and 2017.

In 2017 Tony was honoured with the BDN Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2018 a second Jefferies BMW dealership was opened in Rotherham, formerly Rainbow Motorrad.

Suffering a series of ailments from 2019 including sepsis, pneumonia, aspiration and a broken leg, Tony was more or less bed ridden in 2019 but regained strength briefly in 2021, the 50th anniversary year of Jefferies BMW, the country’s longest serving BMW dealer.

Tony Jefferies took adversity on the chin and steered the great Yorkshire Jefferies motorcycling dynasty into the 21st with an ever-present smile.

“He was the eternal optimist and had the constitution of an ox,” said daughter Louise who gave Tony two grandchildren, Megan and Thomas.

“He was very brave with lots of new ideas,” added brother Nick.