Cars

The story of AJS begins with Joe Stevens, father of Harry, George, Albert John ('Jack'), and Joe Stevens Junior, an engineer who owned the Stevens Screw Company Ltd, in Wednesfield, near Wolverhampton. The business already had a reputation for quality engineering and as his sons joined the business and Harry developed an interest in petrol engines, the sons turned their attention to road going vehicles. They produced their first motorcycle in 1897, using an engine imported from the USA. Before long, Stevens began making their own engines, developing their own designs and by 1910 they were producing their own motorcycles, designed by eldest son Harry Stevens and AJS was born.

Looking to diversify, in the summer of 1927 AJS secured a contract to build bodies for the new Clyno 'Nine' Light series. This started well, but the car proved unpopular and in 1929 Clyno went into liquidation. 

The demise of Clyno came at a bad time for AJS, who had just began producing a  commercial vehicle chassis' and so the company decided to produce its own light car. Designed by Arthur G Booth, the designer of the original "Clyno Nine", the chassis was built by John Thompson Motor Pressings in Bilston, the bodies were made in Lower Walsall and the final assembly took place in Graisely Hill. THe car was fitted with a four cylinder side valve Coventry Climax engine with a capacity of 1018cc (60mm x 90mm bore and stroke) and an RAC rating of 8.92 h.p. which put it in the £9.0s.0d tax class. 

The car was launched in August 1930. It was received well by the motoring press and sold well, despite a comparitively high price. 

Sales were enhanced when the car was exhibited at Olympia the following October. Four models were exhibited

  • a black fabric 4 door saloon with a sliding roof (an optional extra) priced at £237. 10s. 0d
  • a coachbuilt saloon with aluminium panels and finished in royal blue at £240.0s 0d
  • an open 2 seater with dickey at £210. 0s. 0d
  • a chassis devoid of bodywork

Initial sales were good, but the car was a little expensive compared to the competition and so in February 1931 prices on all models were reduced by £11.0s. 0d on all models and a cheaper 4 door fabric saloon, the Richmond, was launched priced at £197. 0s 0d. Although similar in overall appearance, the cost of the Richmond was reduced by replacing the hide interior with leather, and simple horizontal sliding windows replaced vertically opening side windows. 

In an attempt to reduce the price further AJS decided to build its own engines, but to no avail. In October 1931 the company became a victim of the depression and went into voluntary liquidation.

It is not known how cars AJS built in total. The highest surviving chassis number is 1064 so it could be that just over a thousand were made, but the late Geoff Stevens , the last member of the Stevens family to work for the company, thought the total number should be nearer 1,300.

The right of AJS passed to Willys-Overland Crossley in January 1932 for £9,500.0s.0d. "The New AJS Nine" was relaunched in March 1932. This differed from the original AJS in two main respects

  • only 1 body type was offered, a coachbuilt 4 door saloon with either 3/4 or 1/2 pannels and a fabric covered top
  • the 3 speed gearbox was replaced by a 'silent 3rd' 4 speed unit 

Priced at £229. 0s. 0d the company soon realised it was in competition with its other vehicles and the price was reduced to £189. 0s. 0d. Despite the price reduction, expected sales did not happen and only about 300 cars were produced before the company went into liquidation.

For more information on AJS cars click on the link below

https://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/Transport/Cars/ajs.htm