Tributes paid to Exmouth’s ‘remarkable’ vintage vehicle enthusiast

PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 April 2017

Popular Exmouth figure Reg Imray celebrated his 90th birthday at the Royal Beacon Hotel on Sunday. Photo by Rob Davies Photography Ref exe reg imray 90

Popular Exmouth figure Reg Imray celebrated his 90th birthday at the Royal Beacon Hotel on Sunday. Photo by Rob Davies Photography Ref exe reg imray 90

Robert Davies Photography 2012

Tributes have been paid to intrepid deaf pensioner Reg Imray, who died at his Exmouth home aged 94.

Over the years, the vintage vehicle collector built up an impressive array of classic cars and motorcycles, which he displayed at World of Country Life, at Sandy Bay and Bicton Park Botanical Gardens.

In 2003, Reg and his vehicle collection appeared on See Hear, a BBC magazine programme for deaf people. He was stunned to learn his motorbikes alone were worth £100,000.

But Reg, of Hulham Road, who said his hobby had become his life, was most proud of his record of never having an accident after more than 70 years behind the wheel. He said he received a letter from Buckingham Palace congratulating him on his safe driving record.

Reg, who had been deaf since birth, was born on April 8, 1922. He died at home aged 94 on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

His sister Janet Dodge, of Seaton, said: “I feel very, very proud to have called him my brother. What he achieved being deaf; all his life he achieved so much, he’s a remarkable man.”

Born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Reg became interested in vehicles from the age of eight after his school teacher told him he would never own a motorbike because he was deaf.

Reg remembered spotting the vehicle while walking along the street with his class and teacher. Stopping to look at the motorbike, he was told to ‘get a move on’. Reg explained he wanted to look at the motorbike; the teacher said he would never have one because of his deafness.

Reg said his teacher’s dismissal ‘made me determined to get one!’.

Between 1940 and 1945, Reg worked in an RAF factory to support the war effort; he made De Havilland Mosquito aeroplanes.

His wish to become a pilot and fly a Spitfire during World War Two was thwarted because of his deafness.

Instead, his services were rewarded when Geoffrey De Havilland presented him with a medal for his work.

Around the same time, he got his first motorbike, a BSA, worth £10, which he got from his dad.

From there his passion for vehicles, two- and four-wheeled, blossomed, and Reg’s collection began to slowly gather pace.

In 1962, he raced at Silverstone and in 1949 was a speedway rider – known as the Raleigh Rocket.

In 2003, Reg and his vehicles appeared on See Hear. During the filming, Reg was astonished to learn his motorbikes alone were worth £100,000.

“I was shocked,” he said at the time. “I only thought they were worth about £50,000.”

In 2006, an 84-year-old Reg took his passion for cars one step further, driving from Morocco to the Sahara Desert.

In the same year, he yearned to own a quad bike, but was told his age was against him.

In 2011, he realised a dream to ride a motorcycle on a public highway without a crash helmet while holidaying in Hawaii.

His passion for driving took him on adventures to most of Europe and North Africa.

His extensive car and motorbike collection boasted an Austin Healey Sprite, a Harley Davidson, and an Aprilla scooter. Also in the collection was a 1961 BMW Isetta, better known as a bubble car, a 1957 two-seater Messerschmit KR200, which he found in a barn in Derbyshire and a 1922 McKenzie Hobart motorcycle.

Among his favourite items were a 500cc Royal Enfield and a 1942 Harley Davidson.

He also owned a Los Angeles Police Department uniform and bike, inspired by the 1980s show Chips; Reg was regularly seen in this guise around Exmouth for many years.

The keen amateur mechanic, who bought and restored all the vehicles in his collection, won more than 200 trophies from exhibiting his vehicles.

In recent years, Reg added a Smart car and Suzuki Grand Vitara to his collection.

Other News Stories


An ‘invaluable’ hospital volunteer – who lives in Budleigh Salterton – has been honoured with a long service medal.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:15

Exmouth’s Urban Earth, in Pankhurt Close, Littleham, last week attended the Bradstone Assured Awards 2018, held in Manchester, and won the overall title of installer of the year, plus the award for best patio transformation using traditional products and also the best patio transformation using 2017 products.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:55

Plans to turn Budleigh Salterton’s disused sorting office into a pub have been turned down.

Read more
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Head nurse and practice manager at East Devon’s Raddenstiles Veterinary Surgery is taking on a 15,000 foot skydive, in which she will freefall for around two miles, to help abandoned and unwanted dogs find their new forever homes.

Read more
Sunday, January 21, 2018

A trio of fundraising events have been announced for this year in the build-up to 2019’s Budleigh Salterton Food and Drink Festival.

Read more
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Don’t miss this week’s gallery of readers’ photos.

Join in at and send us your East Devon pictures.

Read more
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Curator Neville Evans explained that many botanical gardens were closing and giving away their collections due to funding issues – despite their conservational value. He added that Bicton’s 300 year-old landscape was ‘pretty special’, with ‘plants here that you will never see anywhere else’.

Read more
Friday, January 19, 2018

Guest of honour Conrad Humphreys said: “I very much enjoyed the Exeter College awards evening and celebrating the success of the students.

“As a former student and rugby player at the college - I have very fond memories of my time there before heading off to sail around the world in the 1993/4 Whitbread.”

Read more
Friday, January 19, 2018

Our Devon quiz is back for another round!

Read more
Friday, January 19, 2018

Exmouth Town Council will be temporarily closed from January 29-30 while office equipment and phones are moved to its new home.

Read more

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Local Weather



max temp: 10°C

min temp: 11°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Photo Orders
Family notices
Google Plus
Reader Travel

Read Online

Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Local business directory

Exmouth's trusted business finder

Show Job Lists

Find planning applications