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AJS (ALBERT JOHN STEVENS) was a cornerstone in the history of the British motorcycle.The story began in 1897, when the Stevens brothers first began their interest in motorcycles, though the first AJS was not marketed until 1909. From then on AJS built up an enviable reputation not only for high quality but also for great successes in all forms of competition, notably the Isle of Man TT, scrambling, trials and the ISDT. The AJS name also loomed large in the field of speed records: in 1929, for example,AJS held no fewer than 117 world records!
In 1931 AJS was taken over by Matchless, and moved from its original Midlands headquarters to south-east London.
During 1938 AJS, Matchless and the newly acquired Sunbeam marque were incorporated into Associated Motor Cycles (AMC) and, as if to prove the worth of AJS in the organization,Walter Rusk, riding a liquid-cooled, supercharged V4, became the first to lap the Ulster GP circuit at over 100mph in 1939.
After the war the new Porcupine twin became the first holder of the 500cc world road-racing championship title in 1949, while the marque enjoyed a terrific run of victories in the Scottish Six Days Trial. On the series-production front the ohv singles and vertical twins became firm favourites both at home and abroad, with their excellent finish and reliable performance.
Then came the I 960s and AJS went into steep decline, with ever-increasing competition from foreign manufacturers, notably the Japanese. But as Mick Walker reveals, although AMC went into receivership during 1966 this did not signal the end of AJS – with a new range of two-stroke dirt bikes it had considerable success well into the 1970s. And thanks to the efforts of a former company engineer AJS has not been allowed to die, and survives into the 21st century.
In this highly illustrated book Mick Walker tells the complete story of AJS and its motorcycles, from the early days in the Midlands to the end, as part of the AMC combine.