Victor Toogood
March 22, 1914 - December 15, 2010

Very, very sad news, we lost a true English Gentleman on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.  Victor died peacefully in his sleep.  He was a great man who achieved much during his full life. There was a gravesite memorial service Sunday, 19 December at 2PM at the Restland Funeral Home. The service was at Veterans 4, lot 61D.

Victor Toogood's donated Norton

On July 14, 2012 Clay Walley and George Tuttle drove out to Garland to pick up one of Victor Toogood's vintage bikes which was donated to the NTNOA.  It’s a ’53 Norton Dominator Model 7.  It was donated by Ibrahim Kuzu.  Ibrahim was Victor's very good friend and was instrumental in moving Victor's warehouse full of motorcycles and parts to a new storage facility three years ago.  We took it to Big D and Jerrett Martin made a list of things missing and things needing to be fixed.  Ibrahim said we could come back and get whatever parts we needed for the bike.  He took us to one of his storage facilities which was packed full of Victor's old Brit bike parts.

The Norton Dominator was Norton’s entry into the vertical twin market. The Model 7 has a 497cc iron head and iron cylinder. It is a parallel twin with a plunger frame and Lucas magneto.  The original Dominator was designed in 1947 by Bert Hopwood, who had been on the Speed Twin design team at Triumph.  It was developed to steal sales from the trend-setting Speed Twin.  This design set the pattern for Norton twins for the next 30 years.  In 1953 the Model 7 was upgraded with a single downtube and a swing arm, a 19-inch front wheel and 'pear shaped' silencers.  The Model 7 continued in production through to 1955 and was often used with a side car as they could not be fitted to the Featherbed frame Dominators.

The plan is to auction the bike at the Lake O' the Pines rallye in October, 2012.

Click here for A True English Gentleman
By Joe Tokarz

Godspeed Victor

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Sir Victor Toogood at the 2007 LOP Rallye - courtesy of Bob Cox

Victor at the 2005 rallye

Victor at 'the 1999 LOP Rallye Registration Desk
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A True English Gentleman
By Joe Tokarz

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The first time I met Victor "Vic" Toogood at an NTNOA meeting, I was intrigued with his personality. Over the last few years I was able to pick up bits and pieces of Vic’s life history and love of British motorcycles. But connecting the bits was like trying to sort out the leads and connections in a Lucas wire harness. To put things in proper order, I had to go to the source. Vic was kind enough to spend a couple of patient hours with me while I asked more questions than deserved answers. Here’s what came out of that encounter.

These few words are by no means meant to be the complete Vic. At best, it’s a thumbnail sketch of a very interesting and engaging man who’s been around the horn in more ways than many of us can even imagine. What I found in talking to Victor, is an English Gent who was a pretty good dancer, never married and has a finely tuned memory for the important events in his past. He has astonishing recall for names, dates places, spelling and events, spanning decades. His wit is clearly British and story telling style vivid. He’s a man of character and who is a lot tougher than he looks. Life hasn’t always been kind to Vic and he’s had his share of challenges to overcome.

According to Vic, the Toogood name dates back to around 1548 with the family crest showing a caltrap. At that time, the family name was Thorgod, a takeoff from Thor, the god of thunder. While Vic had some ancestors in the 2nd Crusade, having god in your name at that time, was not very desirable. So for preservation sake, it changed to Toogood in the 16th century.

Vic was born in the town of Hackney, an East suburb of London on March 22, 1914. He entered the world with the help of a mid-wife at the Salvation Army Mothers Home, since the hospitals were taken over to support the war effort. Vic’s family consisted of mom, and dad who was an insurance company manager, two older brothers and a sister. Vic eventually grows up to become a RAF pilot serving about 6 years, with assignments in England, Burma and India. But the early years of his life were not easy. Due to a severe speech impediment, his mother would write notes for him. Vic would be almost 21 years old before he learned to speak with confidence, and it would be his life long love for motorcycles that would help him cope.

Vic’s first encounter with 2 wheeled freedom was in his home town at the age of 9.

A man was selling rides on a 1914 Douglas for about 3 pennies, as a promotion to purchase. Vic got some money for the ride but his speech problem required that he communicate in a kind of sign language to the owner. In minutes, he was motoring about the park like a natural. Vic knew he had to have the bike and set out to save for a purchase. The money came from finding miss-hit golf balls at the local course. He had help from Judy, his black cocker which he trained to retrieve balls in the thick bushes. He saved intensely for a year and was able to buy the Douglas. That was only the beginning. His folks didn’t approve of him and a bike so he kept it a secret for a year, storing the Douglas in a friends shed.

When Vic grew up he attended a private college, all the time developing his aptitude for mechanics. By 1940, he was in the Royal Air Force and it was during the Battle of Britain that Vic’s mechanical abilities came into play for the war effort. He worked in the ground staff supporting the aircraft. By 1941, Vic was sent to the US for flight training at Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama. Brit pilots were trained in the US for two reasons. First, the States had better weather for flying and second, the Luftwaffa couldn’t swat those pilot trainees out of the air like in England. Vic received his wings in 1942.

The caltrap consists of four nails forged together in such a way that one of them is always pointing upward when placed on the ground. It was a weapon used during the Middle Ages to wound horses and the feet of foot soldiers.

On the trip over to England he and 2400 other freshly minted pilots were on a ship that was built for the Mediterranean, so the Atlantic had its way with the ship and passengers. To ensure the ship arrived safely with its cargo, it was escorted all the way back to England.

Vic was assigned to the Hurricane Squadron. One of their tasks was to escort the D-Day gliders. Vic was shipped off to Asia and there he flew out of Burma behind the Japanese lines running what he calls a taxi service for 250 pound bombs. In time the Hurricanes were dispatched to Europe but Vic stayed behind and flew P-47’s. After Hiroshima, the Allied Forces had driven the Japanese out of Malaya, Burma, Borneo and Sumatra. What was left of the Japanese army together with the very large number of prisoners had retreated to the island of Java. Only four RAF squadrons were equipped with P-47 aircraft due to the spare parts availability. These were selected to go to Batavia (now Jakarta) Java to take over and rehabilitate the prisoners. These four squadrons had the doubtful honor of being the last RAF operational squadrons in the War. Vic was released from Her Majesty’s Service in early 1946 and returned to Southampton. He took a civilian job with Marconi EKCO as a material’s buyer.

About 1947, Vic returned to the US with the help of a friend who assisted in the Green Card paperwork. Vic found his way to Texas because of another good friend whose folks were here. This pilot friend met an untimely death while flying. In Dallas Vic started to work for the Dallas newspaper then moved on to an oilfield equipment company as an inventory clerk. Opportunity knocked and Vic applied for and was accepted in an accountant position. He stayed with this company until 1971. This company was the largest oilfield company in the world but went bankrupt 10 years later.

Vic always had a love for the open road and Canada. Around 1961 he rode his Vincent to Canada and claimed to be the first person to cross the Canadian Rockies on a motorcycle. During that time Vic kept his 1948 Norton International and made 8 trips to and from Canada on it. He’s proud to say that he had the trip down pat, taking only 2 days each way.

At the ripe old age of 57 he joined Vernon Hardwick’s BSA shop as a parts man. However, when his mother passed away he needed to return to England for the services. His employer promised to keep his position open but when he returned to Dallas, he found that he had been replaced. After that he opened a small shop on 10th street in Dallas near Davis street. There he charged his clients $5 per month for bike storage and work shop privileges. This worked out quite well for Vic.

Well, that’s about it. By this time I was mentally exhausted. Vic on the other hand seemed to be getting warmed up. I had taken in so much of Vic’s life, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to decipher my own chicken scratching and keep the details straight.

Composing this brief essay about Victor Toogood has been a great experience for me and I hope for the NTNOA members as well. We are extremely fortunate to have a member like Vic to tell us first hand about motorcycling in its infancy, how it influenced his life and the resulting memories. So the next time you see Vic, take a few moments to introduce yourself, and shake hands with the NTNOA’s one and only English Gentleman. It’s a privilege to have Vic as an Honorary Member and one of the very early members of the NTNOA.

[John Cary Yuill's tribute to Victor Toogood]
[Toogood: A Story - By Bev Bowen]

The Houston based classic motorcycle enthusiasts, including members of the BMOA, and BRMC will always have fond memories of Victor. For many years he attended the Annual New Ulm Rally. Victor always camped out and was open to developing new friends while offering his intellect and wisdom for those within his presence. I will remember Victor as a kind man that always offered inspiration. He will undoubtedly be remembered and missed by the many that were fortunate enough to make his acquaintance.

Posted by: John Martin Houston/Segui, TX - friend Dec 19, 2010

From: James Ingram
Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010
Subject: Victor Toogood Remembered

It is with great sorrow that I heard about Victor Toogood’s passing. I wanted to relate a small story to you that happened at last year’s 2009 LoP rally. It was said the Vic had an exceptional recall of faces and names. This is very true.

In the 1990s I was riding and hanging out with Jerry Hubbard. At some point (I am not sure exactly when) Jerry and I paid Vic a visit at his place down on Davis. We got the grand tour and as both Jerry and I were mad for old British bikes, we were enthralled with everything he showed us. Fast forward to 2009. I was walking along the rows of bikes set up for judging that the 2009 LoP. At the registration tent sat Mr. Toogood. He was alone so I thought I would go and renew old acquaintances. I said “hello” and shook his hand. He smiled, looked intently at my face and said “I know you. You came to my shop with that other fellow several years ago.” I was dumbfounded. I can’t remember what I did yesterday much less the people I met ten years ago. After that we chatted like old friends.

Victor Toogood was a true gentleman and I grieve his passing. We need more gentlemen of his caliber and now we have one less.

James Ingram
Ingram And
Leonard, TX

Vic’s Quotable Quotes

* From racing at Brands Hatch on an AJS R8: If its not raining, it’s a good day for racing.

* On Vic’s decision to return to the States after the war: Well, I saw how bloody much money you Yanks are paid for such bloody little work and so I decided to get in on it.

* On Vic’s planned retirement to Barbados someday: Barbados because there are beautiful sandy beaches full of lovely young ladies in bikinis, they speak the Queen's English, and there are damn few Yanks!

* On when he will retire: Why, when I get old of course!

Some Memorable Times with Vic (from Dave Howe a.k.a. Flat 2)

* Vic once worked for Doc Storm, organizing all the bits in the attic. Vic was a sight blaring down Chalk Hill in his old Hillman with no top. When it rained, he still blared down the hill, having donned his only proper rain gear - an old pair of goggles. When the Hillman expired, it was the same drill, rain or shine, on his trusty bicycle!

* In the late 60's, I met the other bikers at work and immediately began hearing about "the old Englishman". At that time, his shop was down a dirt alley in Oak Cliff. My friend had an old Matchless 500 single he was trying to keep running and had lost a weird little shoulder bolt in the rear end. We went to Vic's and he was very polite and cordial. We described the odd bolt and he said, yes he thought he had two of them. He dug around in bins, boxes, tins, nooks and crannies for a while and came up with the badly needed part. Cost – 35 cents!

* The first several LOTP rally's were held at "The Cove". There were several small cabins, one which had a nice porch that overlooked the entire rally area. Vic was appointed the Grand Marshal and received a cottage for his trouble. A large Union Jack was placed on the porch railing and each morning Vic would come out, stand there by the Jack and survey his domain. Quite a sight, the Englishman standing up there, waving to his court, and in his best high-tea English, delivering greetings to NTNOA from Her Royal Majesty, The Queen of the British Empire, complete with anecdotes from the Queen Mum and Maggie Thatcher, all of whom he claims to know quite well, of course.

* Vic has always been happy to take on any task for NTNOA at the rally. His main station is at the sign-up table working all day until late in the night. Then going off to sleep wherever he could find - one year on the ground with only a single thin blanket!

* The last motorcycle Vic rode, I am proud to say, was my BSA M20. This was at the last LOTP at The Cove. Vic sheepishly came up and asked if I would mind terribly if he road the M20 a short ways down the road. So with the W.W.II British India Campaign pith helmet as a topper, he motored down the road. What a sight! The English gentleman, riding British ramrod straight in the saddle, a dignified smile on his face, probably reliving fine memories of riding all types of bikes over the decades. The M20 was given the name "Victor" on that day. Vic seemed pleased and I certainly was.

 Examples of Some of Vic’s Bikes

1914 Douglas

Flat twin, belt drive with carbide headlamp. Vic’s first bike. Acquired at the age of 10. License plate LO 218



680cc JAP V-twin side valve. Same engine as placed in a Brough Superior.

1923 Raleigh
350 side valve. Originally owned by Lord Petre.

1913 Brown
3 speed in the rear wheel with oil lamp.

1928 BSA
Round tank 250

1929 BSA

497cc BSA (ohv 'Sloper')

1933 Royal Enfield Bullet
4 valve, 4 speed

1930 AJS
R-8 500cc racer

1936 Norton Manx

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500cc single, fine racer but not a road bike.

1947 Norton

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Model 30 500cc

1951 Vincent Black Shadow

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Purchased for $400.


RIP Victor

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