AJS – Albert John Stevens – set up shop in 1909, in Wolverhampton, England. Though the firm bore Albert’s initials, it was in fact a Stevens family concern. In its own right, it lasted until ’31. After that, the AJS brand-name went through several changes of ownership. Please pay attention, as this gets a little complicated. First off, AJS was subsumed into Matchless – based in Plumstead, London. Then, in ’38, the AJS marque merged into AMC – Associated Motor Cycles. In ’67, AMC were taken over by Norton Villiers – along with AJS. Two years later – in ’69 – the ‘classic’ period of the AJS timeline came to an end. So – in the sixty years since its founding – AJS lived through a substantial chunk of modern British history. Because of its connections to several other big British brands, it can be seen as something of a hybrid. The Model 30 was released in ’56. As a result of all the marque-mixing, it was in many ways the exact same machine as the Matchless G11! Well, apart from the AJS livery and exhaust set-up. Matchless were keen to keep AJS devotees onside. So, the ‘two’ bikes were effectively twinned. In like manner – following the AMC takeover – some ‘AJS’ stock had Norton parts fitted. Classic bike nerds never had it so good!
At the circuits, though, things were much simpler. AJS won a lot of races! In 1914, its race team took the Junior TT title. Finer feats were to follow. In ’49, AJS made racing history by winning the first 500cc World Championship. Les Graham rode a Porcupine twin to the title. Was that painful? He had previously been an RAF pilot – in World War II. One cannot help but wonder which was the more exciting! Arguably the most iconic AJS competition bike, however, was the ‘Boy Racer’. A single-cylinder machine, the 350cc 7R hit the grid in ’48. The 7R’s motor was subsequently enlarged to 500cc – to power the Matchless G50 racer. So, it was not just AJS roadsters which mixed and matched with sibling marques, so to speak.
The Model 30’s 593cc engine powered it to a top speed of 95mph. The bike handled well, into the bargain. It was also comfortable, reliable and economical. In other words, the Model 30 was a paragon of motorcycling virtue. Entirely fitting, then, that a company of the calibre of AJS was the source of its two-wheeled excellence. Saying that, AJS did make cars as well. Though not, perhaps, to the same standard. In the opinion of Model 30 owners, that is!