Looking to diversify, in 1927 AJS gained 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.
This came at a bad time for AJS, who had just began producing a commercial vehicle chassis' and so they decided to produce their own light car.
The AJS car was designed by Arthur G Booth, who also designed 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. It was exhibited at Olympia in October 1930.
Four "models" were on display
- a black fabric 4 door saloon with a sliding roof (an optional extra) priced at £237. 10s. 0d
- a coach-built saloon with aluminum panels and finished in royal blue at £240.0s 0d
- an open two-seater with dickey at £210. 0s. 0d
- a chassis devoid of bodywork
Initial sales were good, particularly following the Olympia exhibition, but the car was expensive compared to the competition and so in February 1931 prices on all models were reduced by £11.0s. 0d 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. The picture below shows Millie Stevens in the first AJS Richmond.
And one of our members cars, an AJS Richmond with the optional sliding sunroof, pictured in Ashdown Forest in 1965.
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 many cars AJS built in total. The highest surviving chassis number is 1064 so it could be that just over 1000 were made, but the late Geoff Stevens, the last member of the Stevens
The right to produce AJS car 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 coach built 4 door saloon with either 3/4 or 1/2 panels and a fabric covered top
- the 3 speed gearbox was replaced by a 'silent 3rd' 4 speed unit
Initially 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.