A UNIQUE ARIEL

Real Classic - - Letters -

Thought you might be in­ter­ested in my Ariel Spe­cial. It was bought in 1970 for £35, fol­low­ing a chain of events that started in the late 1950s. Back then, I needed a £35 de­posit for a rac­ing Ve­lo­cette and was short of funds. I was run­ning an AJS café racer that I’d built. A work­mate of­fered me the £35 for the Ajay; I bought the Velo which I raced into the 1960s.

Skip for­ward to 1970, when I needed trans­port into Lon­don for my work. I was us­ing an LE Velo which al­ways gave trou­ble. My work­mate friend of­fered me any­thing from his Ariel col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing Square Fours. I picked an all al­loy-en­gined sin­gle 500 which looked nice to me. It’s a 1952 VHA in a 1954 frame. He sold it to me for the price of the Ajay: £35!

The Ariel trans­ported me into Lon­don ev­ery day for ten years. Some­time along the way I had the big end re­placed by a well-known dealer… and then a cou­ple of years later it was re­placed again when it was found that the oil­way holes weren’t lined up. An ac­ci­dent put a dent in my con­fi­dence so I used the car for com­mut­ing af­ter that.

I got the Ariel up and run­ning, and binned all the de­sir­able bits like head­light na­celle, en­closed chain­guard and valanced mud­guards. Over the fol­low­ing years the bike de­vel­oped. The en­gine has been tuned and ported, with pol­ished in­ter­nals and pol­ished steel fly­wheels. The frame was re­painted, forks over­hauled and mod­i­fied. The rear sus­pen­sion uses rac­ing Gir­lings (left over from the rac­ing Velo). The ex­haust pipe is one I bought when I first had the bike; I had to adapt it and have it chromed as the stan­dard Ariel pipe won’t fit. My son (a pro­fes­sional car re­storer) painted the tank, oil tank and tool­box.

The Ariel has done over 200,000 miles dur­ing its time with me and has been re­bored twice. Un­for­tu­nately it doesn’t get run so much now as I like the elec­tric leg of my Honda. Dave Kidd, mem­ber 13,276

200,000 miles! That’s as­ton­ish­ing, and a real credit to both bike and rider. Does any­one else have a sim­i­lar story to tell? Frank W

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