University Honda/Yamaha

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Skagit Powersports


University Honda/Yamaha

So Long to a Legend…

Wow. Every now and then we're hearing about a store closing here and there. This one really hit home. Due to a tough economy and 14 days of ice in the streets of Seattle during December, University Honda Yamaha closed its doors January 15, 2009.

The dealership had quite a legacy. The official line goes like this:

University Honda was the first Honda dealership established in the United States and was started in 1959 by Gilbert Eaton. He ordered the bikes through an ad in Popular Mechanics magazine, two Cub 50s. His first retail outlet was on East Pike St. within a couple of blocks of its present location and was called Washington Honda at the time. He moved the store to NE 89th and Roosevelt Way prior to 1965 and from that location he moved it to NE 58th and Roosevelt Way in 1965, then to Roosevelt Way and Ravenna Blvd. in 1966.

In August of 1967 Pete Wicken started working at the Honda shop known as University Honda/Bultaco, later to add Kawasaki, Jawa/CZ, and Clews Stroka to their lineup. He started as a salesman and worked there for three weeks when James Tenneson, and Terry Saxlund started the process of buying the business from Gilbert Eaton, a process that took a little over a month. In 1981, Terry Saxlund sold his shares of the company to Pete Wicken; Jim Tenneson and Pete became partners for about three years when at that time Jim agreed to sell his shares to Mr. Wicken.

Pete kept the business at Roosevelt and Ravenna until 1995 when he moved it to its present location and added the Yamaha and now MZ lines of motorcycles to the mix. Pete's son, Tom Wicken purchased the business from Pete on September 1, 2004.

According to Pete, the original Honda dealer franchise number was #00001 and he has seen the documentation to confirm it. 49 years is a long time!

University Honda/Yamaha was a regular stop for me. I used them for service as soon as I arrived in Seattle back in 1997. In 2000, I purchased a used CB400/CB1 bike from them and in 2002, I bought my Honda Silverwing from the shop. They were always a regular stop for tire changes, warranty work and parts.

UHY was one of the first advertisers on Sound RIDER! and our parent company, Mixed MEDIA handled their website maintenance and updates from 1999 to 2004.

In 1999 I had the pleasure of interviewing Pete, Tom and Pete's wife, Karen, over lunch at the Six Arms Ale House just down the street from the shop. I could recite the highlights of that article, but you'd probably have more fun reading it all the way through. A link is included at the end of this article.

The dealership always scored well in our every-other-year dealer surveys and was lauded for their excellent customer service.

Winning Sound RIDER! dealer survey awards in 2004. L-R: Mike, Pete, Tom

Tom's sister, Sarah (above) worked at the dealership on and off and was an excellent source of product information. She knew her way around the OEM and parts distributors like few others. If I couldn't find a part at another shop, Sarah was always there to dig deep and often source parts. This became critical during a restoration of a 1972 Honda SL 350 I did several years ago.

And no regular customer will ever forget Monkey, Tom's faithful dog. There are those who say he is so ugly you just have to love him!

With the closure at hand there are a number of talented people available for hire. Contact our office if you'd like to reach any of them.

Tom Mehren/Winter 2009

To read the original SR! article done on the shop in 1999 follow the link below:


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