AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 4

The Big Vs Continue

A.J.W. had now been established for two and a half years and was building a large range of big V twins that were sold through agents that John had built up around the world. He said he had a very active agent in Vienna and Budapest, whose first order was for five machines.  His agent in Switzerland ordered two very special racing machines. He also had an agent in Johannesburg. Odd orders were supplied all over the world. One 1000cc model went to Lithuania, others to Australia and France and eventually he sent machines to Canada and the U.S.A.

Left Austrian A.J.W. agent, Hanns Funke’s stand in a Salzburg show. An A.J.W. can just be seen to the rear of the stand. Right. A picture taken in Vienna in 1929 showing Mr Funke second left, and far right Mr E Brull owner of the A.J.W. Anzani racing combination shown

Left Austrian A.J.W. agent, Hanns Funke’s stand in a Salzburg show.  An A.J.W. can just be seen to the rear of the stand.  Right. A picture taken in Vienna in 1929 showing Mr Funke second left, and far right Mr E Brull owner of the A.J.W. Anzani racing combination shown.

One of the many machines on offer in 1929 was the Two-Port Sports. Its Summit 78mmx 104mm 996cc twin-cylinder, overhead-valve four stroke engine, was lubricated by a Pilgrim mechanical oil pump with sight feed.

Two Port Sports

Two Port Sports

It was fitted with a Jardine four speed gear box with clutch and kick starter, a Binks two lever carburettor, internal expanding 9in front and rear brakes and 26in x 3.25in tyres. It weighed 420Ibs and cost £145 (without equipment).

Harry Marks at speed on Mamhead Straight Devon Anzani 996 c

Above Harry Marks at speed on a two port sports on the Mamhead straight outside Exeter in July 1928. He frequently test rode for John Wheaton in the early days.  Harry, a post office official from Exeter, also undertook a lot of the development and demonstration work. The picture, below right, shows the controls on this machine. Note the sophisticated braking system used at the time, not just the normal foot and hand brake, but also a hand ratchet on the right hand handle bar that controls both front and rear brakes.

Two Port Sports

The Two-Port Sports was tested by The Motor Cycle in July 1928 and it commented that the A.J.W. was a high speed sporting machine that gave a remarkable performance, with low fuel consumption and in great comfort.

Another machine available at this time was the A.J.W. 497cc Double Port with the following specification .

ENGINE. J.A.P. 497cc ohv Double Port Special Racing, having a bore of 80mm and a stroke of 99mm. Fitted with roller bearing big-end, roller bearing both sprocket and timing case side. Fully floating gudgeon pin, special aluminum alloy pistons. Large valves and quick lift cams, specially strong valve springs. This engine is specially tuned and is guaranteed the same in every detail as those which competed in the Tourist Trophy, at Brooklands and other racing tracks. The ports and cylinder head are highly polished and the bore carefully lapped to ensure the least possible amount of friction. The whole engine is carefully tested and is compelled to develop a given B.H.P. before leaving the works. Push rods and rocker gear are totally enclosed and lubricated by oil mist.

FRAME is a specially low built cradle type, giving an exceptionally low saddle position. The frame protects the engine from any possible damaged due to large rocks or projection in the road, which are often met with in competition work.

WHEELS AND BRAKES. These are built up with Dunlop rims, nine gauge spokes, Enfield 8in hubs and brakes front and rear. The rear wheel is fitted with the famous Enfield crash drive. Both wheels are quickly detachable,

Tyres are 26inx3.25in  Dunlop Cords, wired on type, fitted on Well Base  rims.

FORKS. Druid O.E.S. triangulated girder with enclosed centre coil spring. A large adjustable shock absorber is fitted and the Druid Steering Damper is incorporated as standard.

TANK. Welded steel saddle type, finished in black cellulose with a nickel plated nose. The tank is designed to allow the easy access to the tappets. While the method of fixing makes it very simple to remove. A separate oil tank is fitted under the saddle. The petrol tank holds 2 ½ gallons and the oil tank ½ a gallon. Both have quick action filler caps.

SADDLE. Terry Heavyweight de luxe.

EXHAUST SYSTEM. Two heavy gauge 2in  diameter pipes with pleasing curves lead into carbjector silencers.

MUDGUARDS. These are particularly effective, being of 7in section beautifully shaped and finished.

HANDLEBARS made from high quality steel, and are adjustable to suit all riding positions.

CHAIN CASES are quickly detachable and extremely light and strong.

TOOLBAGS. Two large pannier bags of pleasing and original design are fitted to the rear mudguard, while a comprehensive tool kit is provided as standard equipment.

STANDS are fitted for both front and rear wheels, the rear wheels (spring-up type), being fitted below the gear box.

FOOTRESTS. These are pneumatic and fully adjustable.

FINISH. Best quality bright black enamel and nickel plating. Chromium plating may be had as an extra.

EXTRAS for unequipped machines.

MAGDYNO Electric Lighting with dipping beam.

MILLER Separate unit with extra large size projector.

BONNIKSEN Time Speedometer  fitted with front wheel internal brake drum drive.

JARDINE 4-speed gear box in place of Sturmey 3-speed.


The big Anzani and J.A.P. engined A.J.W.s were performing very well in 1929.  Just a few of their successes were.


A. L. S. Denyer  (680 ohv)                  GOLD MEDAL.

W.  Stephens     (980 ohv s/c)              SILVER MEDAL.


A.L.S.  Denyer   (680 ohv)                   GOLD MEDAL.


J. W. Beare    (500  ohv)                      1st CLASS SILVER CUP.


Miss Una Chick  (350)                           1st CLASS AWARD.


Miss Una Chick  (350)                            LADIES CUP and 1st CLASS AWARD


A J W with trials combination FJ 5968 -31

John Wheaton leaving the grounds of Exeter’s Imperial Hotel on his Anzani engined A.J.W. combination. He was probably on his way to one of those trials.


By this time A.J.W. were getting along quite well for a small firm, but it was obvious that the big twin market was becoming very limited. A large V twin in those days cost from £95 to £170.  A small car cost only £110, so a motor cyclist had to be very enthusiastic to spend that much money on a motor cycle.

Another negative factor was that most young women of the 1930s definitely preferred sitting in a comfortable car to being perched on the pillion of a motor cycle, so it would not be long before the keenest enthusiasts would be persuaded to give up motor cycling all together.  In view of this John decided to make another model which might appeal to  a wider field.  The 350cc and 500cc machines seemed well provided for, so it was not worth going into that market.

After some thought he decided to build a range of two-stroke machines, from 150cc to 350cc.  Although these machines did have one or two special features, it was difficult in this class to make them exclusive or unique.

A.J.W. was back at the Olympia Motor Cycle Show (stand no 61) at the end of 1929, with an improved range with some new features and the first of their new small capacity two-stroke models.

The machines on show were.

  • 172/342 cc T.S. VILLIERS. £31 to £43. Utility, Black Fox, Silver Fox,
  • 497 cc ohv J.A.P. at £95.  Double Port Special Racing,
  • 680 cc ohv J.A.P. at £89.
  • 996 cc ohv J.A.P. at £125.  “8.50” Long-Stroke  Single-Port with Side Car.

Below. Model “850” J.A.P. 996cc 80×99 mm V Twin ohv with a Sturmey Archer three-speed gear box. Cradle frame. Magneto ignition. 26inx3in tyres. 2 ½ Gallon petrol tank. 3 Pint oil tank and Electric Lighting £6 extra.

 Model “850” J.A.P. 996cc

The novelty for this year was that A.J.W. had mounted the speedometer in the top of the headlamp.  John Wheaton stated that not only was he the first to fit the enclosed speedometer drive into the front hub, he was also the first to fit the speedometer into the top of the head lamp.  Although this practice had been used in motor cars, it was the first time it had been incorporated in motor cycles and it was soon to be copied by other manufacturers.

This Single-Port 8-50 model is shown with the new spring frame, which can be fitted to all four-stroke models. This suspension was an extra, which was claimed to be well worth the cost.

Sprung frameThe rear sprung rear wheel works on a principle which gives very little unsprung weight and is unobtrusive in appearance.

The rear fork ends are altered to take two vertical tubes one on each side of the rear wheel. These tubes carry large phosphor bronze bushes in which slide two further members with forked bottom ends to take the axle. The movement of these inside sleeves is controlled by two main and two rebound coil springs, which abut against a solid block contained inside the sliding sleeves (these latter are slotted vertically so that this block can be pinned in position through the outer casing). The tops of the sliding tubes are bridged by a heavy cross-piece which is concealed by a metal cover made in one with the rear mudguard. The brake anchor arm is taken from this bridge piece.

The rear wheel has a maximum vertical movement of 1 1/2in and the tensioning of the chain is automatically controlled by a spring loaded jockey sprocket mounted on the lower near side chain stay. Grease gun lubrication is provided for all moving parts.