A brief history of AJS motorcycles
A.J. Stevenson & Co. Ltd. produced cars and motorcycles under the name AJS between 1909 and 1931. With 117 motorcycle world records within a few years, AJS was undoubtedly one of the leading sports brands. Later in his life, the company was bought by the Matchless, then Associated Motorcycles, and then the Norton Villiers group. And AJS is one of the few surviving names from that time.
Joe Stevens built his own internal combustion engine in 1897, although his engines did not go into production until after 1900. In 1905 he built a motorcycle with JAP-V twin engines at the Stevens Screw Company founded by his father, in which all family members lived.
AJ Stevens & Co was founded in 1909 to manufacture motorcycles. In 1911, the earliest model was launched, a two-speed 292cc side valve, and AJS took part in the Isle of Man TT races, with AJ Stevens taking 15th place in the Junior TT.
The company, Albert John Stevens, was a family business until 1926, with Harry Stevens as an engineer, Joe Stevens junior as a production engineer, Albert John Stevens as a design manager and George Stevens as a sales manager.
AJS has always been closely associated with the Isle of Man TT. By 1914, the company had developed a 350cc motorcycle with chain drive and a four-speed gearbox. It took part in the Isle of Man TT race in 1914 and finished first, second, third and fourth in the Junior TT. In 1920 the chain primary drive and the internal expansion brakes were introduced. AJS won the junior again in 1920 (under Cyril Williams), 1921 (AJS secured the top four places on Isle of Man TT, Howard R Davies won the senior on 350cc AJS) and 1922 (the junior was won by Manxman) Tom Sheard and G Grinton finished second. In 1929, Wal Handley finished second in the Junior TT, while Jimmy Guthrie won the Lightweight TT in 1930 with an AJS.
In 1916, the Ministry of Ammunition banned non-military motorcycle production. Russia placed an order for military vehicles with the Ministry in 1917, and part of it was contracted with AJS to keep it busy until the Ministry restrictions were lifted in early 1919.
In 1928, AJS launched two chain-driven racing models with overhead camshafts, namely the 498cc K10 and the 349cc K7. In 1929 the 498cc M10 and 349cc M7 were launched. A 496 cm3 V-Twin with primary shaft drive was launched in 1931.
However, at the end of 1931, the company ran into financial difficulties as it took out loans to build its auto, bus, and coach manufacturing business. The motorcycle assets were purchased from Matchless, which is operated by the Collier brothers in London. In 1938, AJS was acquired by Associated Motorcycles and shared models under various badges. The AJS racing heritage was used by Colliers for innovative racing machines to keep the AJS name alive.
Finally, in 1966, Associated Motorcycles together with the name AJS were taken over by Norton-Villiers. The name AJS was used for an off-road machine, the AJS Stormer, which is based on a two-stroke engine. Today AJS has a range of four-stroke motorcycles with a displacement of 125 cm³ for both off-road and in-road vehicles, as well as cruisers with 250 cm³, 125 cm³ and 50 cm³ parallel double engines.