:"AJS is also an abbreviation for the
American Journal of Sociology."
AJS was the name used for cars and motorcycles made by the
Wolverhampton, Englandcompany A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, from 1909 to 1931, by then holding 117 motorcycle world records, and after the firm was sold the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcyclesand Norton-Villierson four-stroke motorcycles till 1969, and since the names resale in 1974, on light weight, two stroke scramblers and today on small capacity roadsters and cruisers.
Joe Stevens, father of Harry, George, Jack, and Joe Stevens, first built an internal combustion engine in 1897, although his engines did not enter production until after 1900. His first engines, of 125 cc, were sold as proprietary engines to other manufacturers. In 1905 the Stevens built a JAP V-twin engined motorcycle, with leading-link front forks and a swinging fork at the rear. This was done at the father's Stevens Screw Company, where the family were all employed. Title: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles, Editor: Erwin Tragatsch, Publisher: New Burlington Books, Copyright: 1979 Quarto Publishing, Edition: 1988 Revised, Page 70-71, ISBN 0-906286-07-7]
A new company, A J Stevens & Co (AJS), was founded in 1909 to manufacture motorcycles and the first model appeared in 1911, a two-speed 292 cc side-valve. One was entered by AJS in the
1911 Isle of Man TTraces and A J Stevens came 15th in the Junior TT.
Albert John Stevens had his name on the company, but it was really a family company, with, in 1926 for example, Harry Stevens as Engineer, George Stevens as Chief Salesman, Joe Stevens junior as Production Engineer and Albert John ("Jack") Stevens in charge of the design office. [http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/Motorcycles/ajs4.htm] WolverhamptonLocalHistory "AJS" (Retrieved 28 November 2006)]
By 1914 the AJS motorcycle had grown to 350 cc, with four-speed gears and chain final drive. AJS won first, second, third, fourth and sixth place in the Junior
1914 Isle of Man TTrace that year. Internal expanding brakes and chain primary drive were introduced in 1920. AJS went on to win the Junior again in 1920, 1921 and 1922, and won the 1921 500 cc Senior TT on 350 cc OHV machines. An 800 cc V-twin was also produced.
3 November 1916the Ministry of Munitionsprohibited the production of non-military motorcycles, but in early 1917 the Ministry received an order from Russiafor military vehicles, and AJS was given a contract to produce part of the order. This kept AJS busy until Ministry of Munitions restrictions were lifted in January 1919.
In 1920 Cyril Williams won the first post war Isle of Man Junior TT on an AJS. AJS took the first four places in the
1921 Isle of Man TT, and Howard R Davieswon the Senior on a 350 cc AJS. This was the first time a 350 had won the 500 cc Senior TT race.cite web|url=http://www.iomtt.com/TTDatabase/Riders.aspx?ride_id=285|title=IoM tt.com Howard Davies|accessdate=2007-01-15] In 1922 Manxman Tom Sheard won the Junior on an AJS, with G Grinton, also on an AJS, taking second.
In 1928, AJS introduced two new chain driven overhead camshaft racing models, the 349 cc K7 and the 498 cc K10. In 1929 there were again two machines with an overhead cam, this time the 349 cc M7 and the 498 cc M10.
Wal Handleycame second in the 1929 Junior TT for AJS. The following year Jimmy Guthriewon the 1930 Lightweight TT on a 250 cc AJS.
In 1931 the AJS S3 was released, a 496 cc transverse V-twin tourer with shaft "primary" drive [ [http://www.classicissues.com/bidetail.asp?AutoNo=178] ClassicIssues "The Classic MotorCycle, December, 1985, Feature List" (Retrieved 28 November 2006)] and alloy cylinder heads. [ [http://www.motorbyte.com/mmm/pages/mchistory/mchistory6_98_b.htm] Motorbyte "Uncle Paul and his 1931 AJS S3" (Retrieved 28 November)] It had been expensive to develop and was slow to sell. Even though they held 117 world records, the AJS company was now in financial trouble.
Automobiles, Omnibuses, and Coaches
Although best known for their motorcycles the company made a few experimental cars with Meadows engines in 1923 but decided not to go into full production.
AJS had manufactured car bodies for Clyno, but in 1929 Clyno went under. AJS returned to car making in 1929 with the Nine powered by a 1018 cc side valve
Coventry-Climaxengine producing 24 bhp and driving through a three speed gearbox. The cars were quite expensive at £210 for the two seater and £320 for the fabric bodied saloon. About 3,300 were made.
The company also started making buses and coaches. The first model was the Pilot with a Meadows engine. This was followed by the Commodore with a
Coventry ClimaxL6 engine and finally by the Admiral. Just over 200 buses were built.
In 1931 A. J. Stevens & Co went bankrupt. The motorcycle assets were bought by the Collier brothers London company
Matchlessand the car manufacturer Crossley Motors. Crossley incorporated some improvements such as a four speed gearbox and using parts acquired from AJS built about 300 cars between December 1931 and May 1932. Assembly took place in the Stockportfactory used by Willys Overland Crossley. Motorcycle production moved to Plumstead.
A 1½-litre model was planned, but failed to materialize except to appear on the Willys-Overland-Crossley stand at the 1932 London Motor Show.
In 1938 AJS became part of a group called
Associated Motorcycles, formed by the Colliers as a management company for its various interests. After this Matchlessand AJS shared models using different badging.
The Stevens brothers tried again and started a new company as Stevens Brothers (Wolverhampton) Ltd to make 3 wheel delivery vans. (They could not call them AJS, as that name belonged to the Colliers.) These used a 588 cc single cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through a 3 speed gearbox and chain drive. The van could carry 5 cwt. It was improved in 1935 with shaft drive and uprated to 8 cwt. The last ones were made in 1936. In 1934 they also produced a new range of motor cycles under the Stevens name. These were made until 1938 after which the company continued until 1956 as a general engineering business .
AJS Racing under AMC
Under AMC the AJS badge may have been put on the "bread and butter" Matchless motorcycles, but the Colliers were mindful of the AJS racing heritage, and used the name on some innovative racing machinery. These racing bikes kept the AJS name alive.
In 1935, at the Olympia Show, an air cooled SOHC AJS 50° V4 was shown, a fully equipped road going version, which did not make it into production. In 1936 Harold Daniell rode a supercharged race version in the Isle of Man Senior TT, but despite its high top speed, it lacked acceleration. [ Title: "Classic Racer" magazine, Issue: 121, Article: Ahead of the Game Pages: 34 - 40
ISSNISSN search link|1470-4463]
In 1939 a water-cooled and supercharged version of the 495 cc
AJS V4was built to compete against the supercharged BMWs then dominating racing. In 1939 the dry sump V4 was the first bike to lap the Ulster Grand Prix course at over convert|100|mi/h|km/h|-1.6|abbr=on. It weighed Auto lb|405|0. and its top speed was convert|135|mi/h|km/h|0|abbr=on. Then World War II intervened. [ [http://www.motorcycle.com/mo/mcfrank/sammymuseum.html] Motorcycle "The Sammy Miller Museum"(Retrieved 25 October 2006)]
At the end of the 40s and start of the 50s, the
AJS Porcupine, a 500 cc forward facing parallel twin, and the AJS 7R(32 bhp, 350 cc OHC single) were being raced alongside their AMC stablemates the Matchless G50(effectively a 500 cc 7R) and by 1951, the Matchless G45(a 500 cc vertical twin). [ [http://www.jampot.com/History.asp] Jampot "AMC" (Retrieved 25 October 2006)] The AJS Porcupine had been designed for supercharging, before the rules changed banning supercharged racing motorcycles, but even so, Les Graham won the 1949 World Championship on an unsupercharged AJS E90 500 cc Porcupine. [ [http://www.teamobsolete.com/nmm/nmmrev.html] "Goodwood Revival Meeting, September 2000" (Retrieved 25 October 2006)]
In 1951 AJS development engineer Ike Hatch developed a 75.5 mm bore x 78 mm stroke, three valve head version of the 7R making Auto bhp|36|0. It was called the AJS 7R3, and was Ike's response to the Italian multi-cylinder racers. They did well enough in their first year, not as well the second. For 1954 Jack Williams, the works team manager, developed the bike further, lowering the engine in the frame, and making some tuning changes that gave Auto bhp|40|0 @ 7800 rpm. It immediately won the first two rounds of the World Championship and took first at the Isle of Man TT. These were factory specials, but one has survived, and a second has been reconstructed from spares. [ [http://www.realclassic.co.uk/news030522.html] RealClassic "AJS 7R3 Racebike Revival" (Retrieved 25 October 2006)]
AMC withdrew from the world of works and one-off road racing at the end of the 1954, with the death of Ike Hatch, and in the face of fierce competition from the other European bikes. After this AJS made a production version of the standard two valve AJS 7R, for privateers. In 1954 Norton was also moved to the Plumstead works.
With the G15 line, AMC had built on the merits of the G12 but there were numerous changes to frame, forks, swinging arm, primary chaincase, transmission, cycle parts and lubrication system. The P11 was the last line of bikes with bonds to AMC. It used a modified G85CS frame but there were stronger forks, completely new cycle parts (making some was rather costly), altered lubrication and modified primary chaincases, to mention a few.
The G15 series was offered as 3 brands: Matchless G15 comprising G15Mk2, G15CS and G15CSR; AJS Model 33 comprising M33Mk2, M33CS and M33CSR; and last not least Norton N15CS (no Norton-branded roadster made as it would compete against the Atlas). The G15 series was produced from 1963 to 1969. They were initially for export only, but by 1965 these models were available in UK and Europe too.
Associated Motorcycles and the AJS name eventually ended up with
Norton-Villiersin 1966. In late 1968 the Plumsteadworks at Burrage Grove, where engines from the Wolverhamptonplant and frames from the Manchesterplant were assembled into complete machines, were presented with a Greater London Councilcompulsory purchase order. The Plumstead works closed in July 1969. It is believed that production of the G15 series was halted late in 1968 (model year '69) with unsold samples on offer through 1969. The AJS Model 33 was the last AJS badged four-stroke produced.
A Government subsidy allowed assembly to move to a factory at North Way, Andover, with an aircraft hangar on nearby
ThruxtonAirfield housing the Test Department and Moto-X competition department. Manufacturing was concentrated at Wolverhampton.
AJS, Villiers and Cotton were linked through competition development ties. Development was carried out by an enthusiastic team which included Fluff Brown and Peter Inchley. Fluff Brown was a competent scrambles rider and enthusiast where Peter Inchley favoured road racing. Peter developed and successfully raced the prototype AJS 250 6 speed Starmaker engine road racer. Unfortunately, the road racer never made it to production.
The AJS name was used for the off-road two-stroke scramblers, produced by Norton Villiers. AJS scramblers were produced from 1968 until 1974 in 250, 370 and 410 guises. The early 250 was designated the Y4. In 1969 The 370 (Y5) was added and the name changed to Stormer. The 410 followed in 1972. Famous British riders included Malcolm Davis, Andy Roberton, Vic Eastwood and Roger Harvey. Fluff Brown (formerly of
Cotton (motorcycle)s) was the competition manager.
A little known motorcycle was the 37AT Trials bike which was partially built by Cotton Motorcycles using some AJS parts and Villiers's 37A engine. A pretty bike, of which probably 10 or so have survived.
When Norton Villiers hit financial problems the rights to manufacture AJS motor cycles was purchased by Fluff Brown who moved operations to Goodworth Clatford near Andover, Hampshire during September 1974. Fluff Brown continued to produce AJS Stormer based motorcycles under the FB-AJS name. Later models used Rotax 250 & 410 engines.
AJS Motorcycles Ltd. (Today)
company_name = AJS Motorcycles Ltd
company_type = Private
slogan = Powered for Adventure
foundation = 1974
location_city = flagicon|UK
key_people = Fluff Brown and Nick Brown
homepage = [http://www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk]
AJS Motorcycles Ltd was established in the early 1970s when the AJS name was acquired by Fluff Brown who transferred the business to Hampshire in 1974. [cite web|url=http://www.cybermotorcycle.com/euro/brands/ajs.htm|title=AJS Motorcycles|accessdate=2008-08-26] The business continues with a range of motorcycles from 50cc to 250cc and has a UK wide network of dealers. [cite web|url=http://www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk/new_AJS/docs/main.htm|title=AJS Dealer Network|accessdate=2008-08-26]
After a long and successful history of AJS was bought by the Norton Villiers Group. In 1968 Villiers developed the "Stormer" Motorcross motorcycle the Y4 on which
Malcolm Davieswon the 1968 British Championship. In 1970 the government provided a special subsidy that enabled AJS to open a new factory near the famous reace track at Thruxton, Andover, where they produced AJS Stormer off-road motorcycles with two stroke Villers"Starmaker" 250cc enginer and also developed a 370cc version the Stormer 'Y5'. In 1971 the 'Stormer 410' was introduced. [cite web|url=http://220.127.116.11/H_TwoStr.asp|title=AJS Stormer|accessdate=2008-08-26] There were quality control and relability problems with the old Villiers engine but producton continued for four years. [cite web|url=http://www.motorcycle.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6793|title=The AJS Stormer|accessdate=2008-08-26]
By 1974 Norton Villiers were having financial trouble and Fluff Brown purchased the rights to manufacture the Stormer under the AJS name banner and moved the business to
Goodworth Clatfordnear Andoverin September 1974. Initially selling spare parts for existing motorcycles, the business expanded to produce complete motorcycles under the AJS name from 1981. [cite web|url=http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/wiki/FB-AJS|title=FB-AJS|accessdate=2008-08-26]
AJS Motorcycles Ltd. is now headed by Nick Brown (eldest son of Fluff Brown) and is an enthusiastically run family business. Since 2002 AJS have had a range of 124cc to 300cc road bikes in trail, roadster and custom cruiser styles. Their main market is Learner Legal 125's. Bikes. AJS Motorcycles Ltd. also sell Stormer/Villiers Starmaker spares and Classic Competition Accessories.
List of AMC motorcycles
* [http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/Cars/ajs.htm Wolverhampton AJS history]
* [http://www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk/new_AJS/docs/main.htm AJS Motorcycles web site]
* [http://www.cybermotorcycle.com/gallery/ajs-matchless/AJS%20Stormer%201972.htm 1972 AJS Stormer]
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