AJS 1939 500cc V4
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AJS Motorcycles

AJS 1939 500cc V4

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The Sammy Miller Museum is an historically important collection of road and competition motorcycles which focuses on the golden age of the sport in the 1950s and 60s. The collection includes some of the most outstanding machines ever raced, and almost all are in running order. Many have been lovingly restored, and some have been left with their original patina. More information here: The Sammy Miller Museum

The AJS V-4 seen here had its origin in the air-cooled 495cc 50 degree V-4 road going design first seen at the Olympia Show in 1935. A year later two race versions, now fitted with a supercharger, were raced at the IOM but retired with mechanical problems. After considerable modifications the V-4 was back at the IOM in 1938 but retired due to overheating. In 1939 AJS hired Matt Wright (ex New Imperial) to do a major redesign of the V-4. The individual cylinders were replaced by barrels & heads cast in pairs.

Most importantly water cooling was now employed. A new frame, suspension and brakes were fitted. This year the bikes did finish (11th & 13th) at the IOM but in the Ulster GP one of the new V-4s set the first lap of over 100mph (100.03) in a road circuit GP before a suspension link broke.

After the war the AJS finally won a race, the 1946 event at Chimay in Belgium. However a week later at Albi the bike seized a crankpin. It was still seized when the bike was purchased by Sammy over 30 years later. 55hp at 7,200rpm. Top speed of 217kph. Dry weight 234kg.
Text by Phil Aynesley

Fine photography by Phil Aynsley