AJS, also known as the A.J. Stevens & Co. Ltd., began its existence in 1897, in Wolverhampton, England. Although famous for Motorcycles, AJS was an automotive manufacturing company, producing automobiles, omnibuses, and coaches, but began their popularity during the 1930s for holding 117 motorcycle world records.
Joe Stevens, along with his 3 other brothers, Harry, George and Jack, built their first internal combustion engine in 1897, based on a proprietary engine which they considered to be inferior. The Stevens brothers, sons of a blacksmith, had long indulged themselves in a melee of various hobbies which included bicycles and other means of mobilisation.
This advancement into internal combustion engines, led the Stevens Brothers to build their first motorcycle, a Japanese V-Twin powered motorcycle, in 1905. Their motorcycle featured leading-link front forks with a swinging rear fork and was produced in their father's screw factory, where their entire family was employed.
Realizing that their motorcycle had no protection from design theft, the A.J. Stevens & Co was founded. In deciding the name in which they were to call their company they finally fell on their brother, Albert John "Jack" Stevens, the only one of them which had 2 Christian names, and decided on A.J. Stevens in 1909.
In 1911, AJS released their first production motorcycle, a two speed 292cc motorcycle. With this new production motorcycle they managed to take 15th place in the Junior TT division of the 1911 Isle of Man TT race.
By 1914 A.J. Stevens & Co, motorcycles managed to grab first through fourth place as well as sixth place in the Isle of Man TT, with their newly released 350cc four speed chain driven motorcycle. AJS continued to win the race throughout the early 1920's with their 350cc and 500cc models, of which the 350cc was an over head valve engine.
The A.J. Stevens & Co. Ltd., survived the first world war, while other motorcycle manufacturers in the UK and Europe had to shut down production due to the Ministry of Munitions Non-Military Motorcycle Production Ban. This however had no effect on AJS as they had the contract to produce military motorcycles for the Russian Military, until the ban was released in 1919, allowing the A.J. Stevens & Co to swing back into production of their own lines.
By the end of 1931 the A.J. Stevens & Co. had fallen into a financial crisis. Unable to escape, AJS was bought out by 3 other companies, Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers, but the three companies still maintained the AJS name badge and lines until Norton-Villiers was bought out by AMC and AJS in 1968. Associated Motors maintained control over the AJS name badge until 1974, when they sold it to a privateer.
AMC, Associated Motorcycles, utilized the AJS Name badge for racing throughout the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, until AMC had to withdraw from off-road racing in 1954 due to the death of Ike Hatch. Ike Hatch was the AJS development engineer for AMC from 1951 to his death in 1954.
In 1974 The AJS name was purchased by Fluff Brown and moved to Andover, Hampshire. Under the new ownership of Fluff Brown and the growing fans of the AJS name badge, AJS continues to produce a variety of models ranging from 50cc to 250cc parallel twins today. AJS still sells one of the AMC models, the AJS Stormer, and the Villier models, the Starmaker, as well as spare parts for almost all the AJS heritage lines.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 11/06/2007