Real Classic


For many ariel enthusiast st, he company' s four cylinder tour er would be pretty much perfect if only it had improved rear suspension­s. ur ely it can'tbe too tricky to combine a Hunt master chassis with a Square drive train? stuart francis finds out


For many Ariel enthusiast­s, the company's four cylinder tourer would be pretty much perfect if only it had improved rear suspension. Surely it can't be too tricky to combine a Huntmaster chassiswit­h a Square drivetrain? Stuart Francisfin­ds out

Back in the 1970s my old mate Tuck had an old grain barn in the village of Holt in Wiltshire that attracted motorcycli­sts from far and wide . Tuck's barn was a cornucopia of British motorcycle­s and parts, with a number of interestin­g machines and rolling chassistuc­ked away in the dark recessesun­der the floor. As one oftuck's minions, I spent some time under that floor moving machines around. I was always intrigued by what looked like an Ariel Huntmaster but with a bent top tube, and parts of the front down tubes missing. It turned out to be a Huntmaster frame modified to take an Ariel Square Four motor and gearbox. I helped Tuck move his collection, six Hgvs'worth, to Devon in the late 1980sand remember wheeling the Ariel rolling chassis under a bench in his new shed, where it remained for the next three decades.

Some 30 years later I'd moved to New Zealand and was pondering my next project. I was looking for a larger machine that was useable, not too demanding to ride, but sufficient­ly different to make it stand out. My thoughts turned to

Tuck's modified Huntmaster rolling chassis, concluding it shouldn't be that difficult to get a Square Four engine and gearbox. How na'ive I was. Separating surplus Square Four engines and gearboxes from their owners is like trying to peel super glued limpets off the bottom of a ship. I was looking for the late Mk2 engine with the better cylinder head and four pipes and later gearbox. After some very frustratin­g false starts I had to settle for a rather expensive, partly dismantled two pipe Mk1 and an earlier gearbox.

Visiting the UK in 2016, I tried to buy the rolling chassisfro­m Tuck. He refused to negotiate and just gave it to me, another act of kindness for which I will always be grateful! Iattacked the rolling chassiswit­h a high pressure steam cleaner to meet Nz'sstrict importatio­n requiremen­ts. Yearsof grease,gunk and debris melted away, revealing a fairly sound frame. The cleansed rolling chassis,plus a hoard of bits acquired on my travels, were boxed up by Oakwood Logistics, and shipped to NZ. My confidence in Oakwood Logistics soared when the packing agent turned up on a very tidy Panther Model 75...

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