Fred Warr 1929-2022: One of Harley-Davidson’s most influential UK figures has died

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MCN is saddened to report the passing of one of Harley-Davidson’s most influential UK figures, Frederick Howard Warr, who died at home peacefully on August 11 after a battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Known to all as Fred, Warr dedicated his working life to the Milwaukee brand and was responsible for bringing the first customer Harley-Davidsons into the UK since 1939, selling new machines from the Warr’s dealership on Kings Road in London from 1956.

Born on January 3, 1929, Fred was surrounded by enthusiasm for the V-twin brand. His father, Captain Frederick James Warr founded the Warr’s H-D Kings Road dealership in 1924 and was joined in business by his son in 1949, after a stint in the British Air Force.   

Before being granted the right to sell new Harleys to the public, the pair worked on ex-military WL750s, which Fred would buy in bulk from Government auctions, before repainting in striking designs.

It was also in 1949 that Fred became a founding member of the Harley-Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain, which continues to this day. He ran events like rallies and gymkhanas, as well as overseas trips from Lydd in Kent to Le Touquet in France.

Despite all this, motorcycle imports were not allowed in post war Britain, and it was only after a boat trip to Milwaukee to meet the then company president William H. Davidson, plus extensive lobbying of the UK Government and US Senate, that Warr was granted a restricted import licence to sell new Harleys. The family remained the only UK H-D representation until the early 1970s.

Fred’s deep involvement with the American brand also made him a draw for film makers and he would often be asked to supply bikes for scenes, as well as step in for riding roles. This included doubling for Marianne Faithfull in the 1968 flick, Girl on a Motorcycle.

In 1974 he also won the prestigious RAC National Rally and, in the 1970s, helped prepare of the winning Trans-Atlantic match race bikes for rider Cal Rayborn and Evel Knievel’s Harley to jump over 13 London buses at Wembley Stadium.

Fred is survived by daughters Patricia and Theresa and two sons John and Robert.